How to choose a good puppy class:
- The instructors should be qualified and use best practice methods, which means positive reinforcement and not punishment. Professional Members of the Delta Institute (https://deltainstitute.edu.au) or The Pet Professional Guild Australia (http://ppgaustralia.net.au/) are a good starting point. Trainers who call themselves balanced use positive reinforcement as well as punishment based methods. This is not best practice.
- The class should provide a safe and stress free place to meet new and different people including children and men. ’Pass the puppy’ is not an appropriate way of introducing strangers.
- It should provide opportunities to socialize with a range of stimuli the puppy is going to have to deal with in life.
- Recommended class size by Delta is 6 puppies maximum with two instructors.
- There has to be off leash interaction in class but controlled and strictly supervised, only two puppies at any one time.
- The class teaches basic manners, at least name recognition, attention, sit, lie down, come when called, exchange toys and food and a few tricks.
- Puppies are not forced into interaction or specific behaviour but can learn in their own time.
- The instructors provide alternatives for ‘normal’ but not appropriate behaviours such as mouthing and chewing, house training, chasing the children, digging and general exuberance. Yelling ‘no’ at the puppy will not solve the problem.