So we have had Lexie over a month now! What a whirlwind! We’ve had somewhat epic problems with toilet training, as less than a week after we got her she developed a UTI which led to her toileting far more frequently than usual for a puppy and without any warning. This meant the usual rules of going outside every hour on the hour etc went out the window! We were left firmly in ‘management territory’, restricting her access to a couple of rooms, no crate training (she had accidents in the crate which shows you how little bladder control she had due to the UTI) and just praising and rewarding wees outside. Several weeks of antibiotics later (it appeared her rapid growth rate made our initial dosage of antibiotics ineffective) the clouds finally parted and one day she just woke up able to hold her bladder for at least an hour, often longer, yeay! We are now starting over and she is doing really well.
She had all her vaccinations over 3 weeks ago now, and last week we went to a puppy class. Actually we went to a puppy class the week before, but it really didn’t suit us. As you can imagine I’m quite fussy when it comes to training classes! So I called up Canine Kids who offer puppy classes for 6-7 puppies at a time, for an hour long class of positive reward based training. That my friend Sarah takes the class was a bonus too! I was very lucky and managed to get a spot that someone had pulled out of at short notice.
Some people have asked why I would go to a puppy class when I’ve just got my IMDT membership as a dog trainer! Well there are three main reasons.
- Firstly, puppies are wonderful, but they really are busy work! It isn’t easy to create a structured training plan and follow it at home, when you have lots of different distractions. The Canine Kids classes have you working on several specific behaviours each week and then you go home and practice in short regular sessions, until the next class, when you review your progress, raise your criteria and new things get added in to work on for next time. Having homework to do for the next class (practicing at home!) really focuses you and makes you make time to train your puppy.
- Secondly, it is also not easy to see or correct the mistakes you are making in training your puppy at home, even if you know you are doing them! Having a trainer there to watch you and point out what’s working and what isn’t, is a huge help and ensures that you make the most of your young puppy’s ability to learn.
- Lastly, socialisation! How many times do you hear people say ‘he’s fine at home, but the moment he sees other dogs he goes deaf’? Puppy classes allow you to train your pup with the added distraction of lots of other puppies. It makes it harder, but you learn how to get and hold your puppy’s attention when it is distracted, a very valuable skill! Your puppy learns that other puppies are great, but that it is not always ‘play time’ when it sees another dog. Also, if the class is positive one for your pup, then more positive associations are made between it and other dogs. All good building blocks for the future.
As an added bonus, Pete and I love going to the classes! They are great fun and you get to see lots of other gorgeous puppies, chat to other puppy owners about how you’re all getting on and see some real progress with our pup week by week. Sometimes it’s very easy for the weeks to tick by and you don’t see how far you’ve come! Not to mention how tired she is after the classes... a guaranteed sleepy Lexie!