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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Puppy Graduation

One of my regular readers posted this comment on my entry about Training Techniques...

I would really urge you to find a good trainer rather than rely on books.
The reason for this is because it takes allot of time and patients to really help a dog learn. A good trainer creates a plan and then re-enforces your training again and again and again. ( notice I said your training)Most of this is about training you and you pass that onto the dog.

I think that's an excellent point, and one I also believe in.  In my own practice I always recommend group training classes rather than books.  First, socialization is vitally important to a dog's development.  You need to do this in a controlled setting with proper guidance and training.  Failure to socialize your puppy by four months old (yes, studies have shown it needs to be by this young) then you could risk behavioral issues for the rest of the dog's life.  Also, as Rockjdog pointed out, learning proper training can take a lot of time and the classes are as much about training the owner as about training the dog.  So yes, I firmly believe that if given a choice someone should pick a class rather than a book.

And I try to practice what I preach.  My own puppy, Yvaine, has been in a group puppy class for the last eight weeks.  I started her at 10 weeks old, and this past weekend she graduated.

My wife went to the classes with her and continued the training at home.  Yes, I know the basics of dog training and could do much of it myself.  But we really wanted to give Yvaine the best chance for great behavior, and knowing what I know of mental development in dogs we decided to enroll her.  It's been a great bonding experience for Yvaine and my wife and a great start in good behavior.