Is my dog ready to participate in dog training classes is a frequent question we entertain. The first consideration is, how old is your puppy or dog? If you have a young puppy, 10 to 16 weeks of age, then puppy training classes are crucial to provide appropriate socialization, puppy raising tips and puppy obedience skills.
The socialization is much more than just with other puppies. It also includes being introduced to friendly strangers (parents of the other puppies), varying floor surfaces and environmental obstacles. Studies have shown that the optimum time to build confidence and socialize your puppy is before 16 weeks of age. After that, the window of opportunity for socialization begins to close. Â Afterward, you can make things better but the optimum time is before 16 weeks of age.
Unfortunately, some people are still told that one shouldn’t start training their dog before six months of age. This faulty advice comes from harsh training methods used in the old days. They wanted the dog to be tough enough to accept corrections as the dogs were taught new behaviors utilizing leash corrections.
Modern dog trainers know that puppies and dogs should be taught similarly as children are taught. You reinforce desired behavior so it happens again by either surprising them with a reward for good behavior which is referred to as “shaping behavior” or show them what you want them to do (luring) and then reward them for their good intentions. Fair corrections have a place in training but only after a dog clearly knows what is expected and has practiced the skill thousands of times.
The other rationale for it was to ensure all the vaccinations were complete including the rabies vaccination. However, more dogs are put down due to behavioral problems than due to infectious disease. Years ago, Dr. R.K. Anderson’s DVM Open Letter to his colleaguesÂ recommended that puppies start classes at 8-9 weeks of age as they would’ve had their first vaccination by that time.
To ensure the pup has had the benefit of the vaccination and beginning enhanced immunity, Michigan Dog Training allows puppies to enter classes one week after the first series of shots. Thus, puppies are generally ready to start puppy classes at 10 weeks of age. Though there may be other reasons why your puppy should start later such as depressed immunity. In those cases we defer to the advice of your veterinarian.
It’s also important to note if your dog is friendly toward other dogs and people. I like to compare a dog’s temperament to the color of traffic lights. If you would describe your dog as being friendly to all dogs and people, then he is a “green light” and a “go” for group classes if desired. If you can hang onto your dog but he is a little reactive toward other dogs but safe with people, then he’s a yellow light dog. If he’s aggressive toward people and/or other dogs, then he’s a red light dog. Â Yellow Light and Red Light dogs should start with private training lessons.
If you’re interested in group dog training classes, they start again soon, the beginning of December. If interested in our other services, please schedule a free meet and greet so we can evaluate your dog and explain the services that would best fit your dog in detail.