How old should my puppy be to start training?
The younger the better! The ideal age to separate a puppy from his mother and litter mates is between 7 and 8 weeks of age. Start crate training immediately; give him 2 to 3 weeks to adapt to his new surroundings and enroll him in a Kindergarten Puppy Training course a.s.a.p. This early training has the following advantages:
You can nip bad habits in the bud or prevent them altogether. His smaller size and weight will allow you to control him a lot easier. Puppies are like little sponges you will be amazed how much and how fast they learn!
My puppy has not finished all the vaccinations recommended by the vet.
The ideal period to socialize your puppy is from 2 to 6 months of age. Once this window of opportunity passes, it will be a lot harder to socialize your puppy. He might grow up lacking confidence, being scared of noises, people, other dogs, act shyly when in new surroundings or around strangers. In severe cases, aggressive issues might also develop.
There is a big disagreement between the veterinary community and dog trainers and behaviorists on this matter. The latter believe that there is a much higher risk of your puppy developing behavior problems because of lack of adequate socialization than of contracting Parvovirus or other diseases. Even immunized puppies are not 100% protected, having a 24 hour animal hospital contact can become handy in case of emergeny. Use your common sense. If your puppy is healthy, well fed and dewormed, and you socialize him with other well-cared and vaccinated dogs the risk will be lower.
If you have adopted a puppy from a shelter of have picked up a stray that seems malnourished or has health issues, you should nurture him back to health before you expose him to other dogs.
Private or group classes. Which is better?
There is no definite answer, it really depends on your and your dog’s individual needs.
A private session offers the following advantages:
Distraction free environment for the dog.
The class can be tailored toward your most pressing issues.
You can ask as many questions as you want.
If you are a first time dog owner, have young children attending the class, or if you are extremely concerned about how your dog will react around other dogs, a private setting will probably work best for you.
Group lessons have the following advantages:
Ideal for socializing dogs.
Your dog will be able to perform around distractions.
Group classes have a fun social component with the camaraderie and friendships that develop in classes. If you have an average dog with no particular issues, you will do well in a group class. You can also learn from the mistakes and questions of the rest of the group. I often find that groups share their common training challenges and people often feel better by realizing everybody is working through the same issues.
If you enjoy training your dog and mingling with other like-minded people a group class will be very enjoyable. All of my students report they really look forward to “Training night” and that heir dogs know when it’s class night as well.
Do I need to enroll my dog in an obedience course before starting Agility?
Not necessarily. If your dog has basic commands like walking on a loose leash, sit and come when called, he does not need to enroll in an obedience class. We will practice any obedience skill that you need for agility during class.
What happens if my dog just wants to play with the other dogs?
During the Basic agility class your dog will be running towards the instructor or towards the owner. Each dog will take a turn and no two dogs will be off leash at the same time.
Because the dogs are working for a high value treat or toy, they usually stay focused with the task at hand and ignore the other dogs.
If I am transferring from another school, how do I know in which course I should enroll my dog?
We recommend scheduling a 30 minute private session where the instructor can asses your present level and place in the course that best suits you.