Puppy obedience classes are not perfect. You don’t always get the one-on-one attention you want. You may not agree with the trainer’s methods, and there’s a good chance you know more about puppy training than everyone in the room.
Still, even professional dog trainers take their puppies to obedience classes.
Dog obedience classes are not about teaching a puppy to sit and stay. Sure, you’ll cover that, but the classes are really about socializing your puppy to people and dogs. The classes get your puppy used to focusing and working around distractions. They give you an excuse to work with your puppy on a daily basis and to surround yourself with other responsible and slightly obsessive dog owners.
My mutt Ace is almost 5 years old, and we have taken at least one obedience class every year for the last four years. The majority of the people who take these classes are not there to learn how to train their dogs. They are there because they are experienced dog handlers and they understand the value of a well-behaved dog.
I will take every dog and puppy I ever own to obedience classes.
Why should I take my puppy to an obedience class?
1. A puppy obedience class provides endless distractions for your puppy.
You can teach your dog to sit in your living room, but it’s not easy to set up real-life distractions at home, especially in the winter when you won’t be out walking as much. At an obedience class, your puppy will learn to sit and to heel with all kinds of distractions such as other dogs walking by and different people coming and going.
Hopefully your trainer will intentionally bring out additional distractions such as strollers and bikes or even a cat.
2. Puppy class can help other family members learn about training.
If you know how to train a dog but your husband is not quite as confident, puppy class is a great way for him to train and bond with the puppy. Or maybe you have a daughter who would like to handle the puppy during class.
3. A puppy obedience class will help your puppy socialize with other puppies.
It’s important for your puppy to meet other dogs so she can develop her social skills. My dog has met dozens of other dogs, so it’s not an “event” if we see one on a walk. A lot of dogs never get to interact with other dogs, so they become overly excited when they do see one. This is when problems such as leash aggression develop as the dog lunges and barks in a desperate attempt to meet another dog.
4. You sill learn something new about dog training.
You will never know everything about dog training. Every time I take an obedience class with my dog, I am reminded about something to work on. Every trainer and every dog has something to teach me, whether it’s a heeling exercise to consider or a way to avoid tension in the leash or a way to keep my dog focused.
5. A puppy obedience class allows puppies to meet lots of new people.
Some puppy kindergarten classes will involve games like “pass the puppy” where the owners literally pass the puppies around so the dogs can get used to meeting and being handled by different people. The puppies also learn that it’s OK to temporarily be apart from their owners.
6. Puppy classes are a great way to train in a different environment.
Dogs are contextual. Just because your puppy knows the command “sit” in your kitchen before she gets fed doesn’t mean she understands the word “sit” in your living room or out on a walk. She needs to learn the word in many, many environments. The same goes with commands like “come,” “down” and “stay.”
7. Puppy classes give you an excuse to train.
Sometimes it’s not easy to fit training into your schedule. Attending a class every week will help motivate you to work on training while you aren’t in class. If you’re competitive like me, you’ll want your dog to be better than the other dogs 🙂
8. Puppy classes will make your puppy tired!
Ace is just as tired after an hour of training at his dog obedience class as he is after an hour of running. It’s mentally stimulating for a puppy to interact with 10 other dogs and 10 different people. Your puppy will be learning, socializing and exercising. She’ll be ready for a nap when you get home. That’s always a plus!
9. Puppy obedience classes will introduce you to other dog owners.
Got an embarrassing question like how do I stop my puppy from eating her own poop? Other dog people will not be fazed by these types of questions! Someone will have a helpful suggestion. Or, if you are wondering about a good dog daycare or a good vet, the other dog owners will give you their honest opinions. Dog lovers will talk nonstop about their dogs!
10. You will get a head start on more advanced obedience training.
Most people don’t bother to train their dogs at all, and if they do, they wait until the dog is a year old and “suddenly” out of control. By the time your puppy is a year old, she will be better behaved than most dogs because of the time you have invested into training and socializing her. If you are interested in further training, you will have a much easier time.
Perhaps you would be interested in obedience competitions, rally, agility or therapy work. Another option is to take the Canine Good Citizen test designed to prove that your dog is well behaved and under control in various public situations.
11. You get to play with cute puppies!
Come on, we all know puppy kindergarten is partly for the owners. We all love to see all kinds of different puppies and dogs playing together.
Do you think puppy obedience classes are worth the investment?
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