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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're bringing home our first puppy in a few weeks. We've been reading a lot about dog training, and we've got some good ideas about what to do.

However, we've been wondering about obedience school/puppy kindergarten. Does anyone recommend or not recommend? What should we be looking for in an obedience class?
 

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I have recently put both my pups through "Basic Obedience" classes seperately, 8months old at the time of admission. The content was not much different than what I run them through, but having a structured environment of training around other dogs and LOTS of distractions has vastly improved my dogs attentiveness. I have since enrolled them both in the next level Intermediate course (together this time OMG!).

I find it completely worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Aussie,

Now I'm playing neurotic mom, trying to decide which puppy school is the absolute best for my little one!
 

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I have recently put both my pups through "Basic Obedience" classes seperately, 8months old at the time of admission. The content was not much different than what I run them through, but having a structured environment of training around other dogs and LOTS of distractions has vastly improved my dogs attentiveness. I have since enrolled them both in the next level Intermediate course (together this time OMG!).

I find it completely worth it.
Agreed. Start training from day one, build a good bond and then take a class to add the distraction element and some good socialization.
After having taken the rescue sponsored Canine Good Citizen course with the foster dog, I've actually signed up Chester for the same class- even though he's nearly 5 years old and basically solid in his training. It will fix some rough edges, give him some focused attention and let him enjoy the social aspect and the attention from others (trainers and other owners).
training is fun and tires a dog's mind out as a bonus!
 

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I can easily train all the obedience stuff at home, but as mentioned, classes provide structure and distractions. Usually I just go to the classes to see what we need to work on more, then go home and train that until the next class.

To me it doesn't really matter if the class is poorly structured or the instructors are bad (which they happen to be at my local club), as long as they don't demand that I train a certain way (e.g. you HAVE to use corrections or luring). I do prefer a club that recommends reward based methods though. It means they at least try to make training fun, there is no prejudice against us for using reward based methods, and my dogs don't have to be around potentially very stressed dogs from overuse of corrections.

I wouldn't be doing advanced obedience with a puppy though. The most important thing for a puppy is socialisation, which means exposing him to many different situations and environments, as well as people, and also teaching him that not every dog/person he sees is to be played with. I would also be working on basic manners and really basic obedience stuff, like sit/stays and recalls. Puppy classes are good, but they shouldn't be a free for all playgroup, they should be more about teaching the puppy to focus and obey even around distractions.
 

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I didn't do a formal obedience class with Luke until he was a year old, mostly money issues as well as we were moving all over the place the first year we had him. I had do all of the training with him and it was going great. He had been extensively socialized, knew all the basic commands, was fully house trained, crate trained, etc. I decided to take a basic obedience class with Luke because he always got so excited when we were anywhere with other people or dogs. The obedience class helped so much for his focus and getting him to chill in exciting/distracting situations and even though he already knew the commands we went over in class (he was the class show off) it was so worth it, plus it was fun.

With our new puppy Zoey, we signed up for puppy socialization right away and she's doing great. I am working full time now (was only working part time when Luke was a puppy) so this helps me make sure she is getting enough and proper socialization. Plus, it's fun!! Zoey has almost an opposite personality of Luke and I kind of struggled with that at first, trying to figure out how to teach her and motivate her, and being in this class with someone who has more/different experiences really helps.

I totally recommend a class!
 

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Unless you've done a lot of training with dogs and are comfortable, I would take a class. If nothing else it gives you a chance to work in a new place with distractions and other dogs.
 

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I agree with everybody else....do the classes. You don't have to do them right away, but I highly recommend it. Caeda is a pretty awesome dog at home, but in public, especially around other dogs she is absolutely crazy. She still is far from perfect, but after classes (learning stuff she already knew at home) her behaviour improved in so many ways, at home, out of the house, around other dogs. Best thing I ever did with her.
lil_fuzzy has a great point though about the trainers....if you don't agree with what they are doing, go elsewhere, if you aren't sure about what they are doing, ask them (or you can come here and ask for opinions on the methods). I will say if you do a lot of the training at home yourself after a fair bit of reading up, you'll have a good idea of what you do and don't agree with by the time you get there.
 

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Yup, highly recommended for a first time owner, and I'd encourage anyone else to go, too. My first obedience class saved my relationship with my dog...without it, she would have landed back at the shelter where she came from.
 

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I took my now 2 year old golden through 3 classes and he got his canine good citizen at about 8 months. I now have a 6 month old shepherd and she is in her 3rd class working toward canine good citizen and agility. I never took my dogs to school until the golden and I seen the difference. I will always take any dog I have to school. The socialization alone is enough to do it!!
 

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I have taken all the dogs I have now to at least one Obedience class. You can do all the exercises on your own at home but they do not get the socialization they get doing a class. Even though I do not agree with the way they do the training at the one class we have here, as long as they let me do it my way, I will continue to take pups to it. (they don't use treats, use choke collars or prong collars and the trainer uses a shock collar on his dog) Everything you shouldn't do!!

I use a leather collar, take treats with me and have usually ended up tops in their class at graduation. It is really hard to not say anything.

Our classes started on Thursday night, both Obedience and Agility. I don't have anything in the obedience and just used the Agility equipment while they were doing the Obedience class. There was a FOUR MONTH old Border Collie pup waiting for the Agility to start. I asked how old the puppy was and said they really should not be starting Agility with it yet and why and was informed by them that it was a very smart puppy and they were told they could do it with the puppy!!
 

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There was a FOUR MONTH old Border Collie pup waiting for the Agility to start. I asked how old the puppy was and said they really should not be starting Agility with it yet and why and was informed by them that it was a very smart puppy and they were told they could do it with the puppy!!
That is so wrong, I would have told them to research it more and get advice on how old to start the dog with agility.
 

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Puppy classes are great for socializing and teaching your pup that you are of high value. I find that it helps with that ever elusive "off switch" and teaches them to focus on you instead of the environment when it's appropriate to do so.

Even if you use aversive techniques, stay away from any class that will be teaching you how to issue physical corrections on your pup. They are puppies! Have fun and don't take things too seriously.

I prefer clicker training. My pup is almost 5 months old and he can do all sorts of neat tricks. He is well mannered and is the star of the dog park with his good recall. Of course he has moments where he is a fluff-brained maniac, but that's to be expected and I can always get his focus back on me with a sit cue. Clicker training is easy and sooo much fun. I highly suggest you look into it!

When choosing a puppy class, make sure the dogs are all of a similar age, that the workload is secondary to socialization, the class sizes relatively small and that the environment is safe, clean and secure. I would look for a trainer you can advance with (basic puppy socialization and manners class, then a puppy obedience class...etc) Bonus points if you can find a place that has an indoor AND outdoor training area. Make sure the trainer is CERTIFIED. The dog training industry is unregulated - anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, even if they've never owned a dog. Look for credentials and experience from your trainer. Ask for references. I like going to trainers who specialize in one area or another and can prove they are worth my money. I look for trainers who are active in the dog community and are competitive in some kind of sport, like obedience, agility, rally-o....etc.

^ That's just what I look for though, not written in stone or anything lol. Good luck with the new pup!!
 

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I strongly recommend puppy kindergarten if your puppy is fully immunized. This can provide a head start for socialization.... any training you get is a bonus. You can train your pup basic behaviors before he's old enough for going outside, and continue while in kindergarten. Then, you can go on to obedience or agility etc. as decided.
 
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