Thankfully, with the right training, dogs can grow out of this stage relatively quickly, but if you want some help teaching your pup good behaviours and learning to socialise during its early development, then puppy school may be an option to consider.
What is puppy school?
Puppy school, also known as puppy preschool, is typically a group class for puppies aged 8-16 weeks. It is generally geared towards teaching pups to socialise and instilling some basic obedience techniques.
From an owner’s point of view, puppy school is fun because you can watch a group of tiny pups playing rough and tumble together, but you can also expect to learn some tips and tricks about new pet ownership.
Generally speaking, most puppy school programs run for 4-5 weeks, over a series of one-hour sessions. Many vet clinics will offer puppy school classes, while the RSPCA and some major pet retailers will also hold them.
How much does puppy school cost?
The price of puppy school will depend on the provider and how long the sessions run for, but the average cost of puppy school in Australia is between $100 and $250, according to OneFlare.
You might expect a group class run by a pet shop or vet to cost between $100 and $150 for a block of 4-5 sessions, while sessions with a private trainer may be more expensive.
What will your dog learn at puppy school?
Puppy school is an opportunity for your new puppy to begin socialising with other dogs and humans in a safe environment, and learn appropriate behaviours for living around humans. While attending classes, you might expect to learn:
- Basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘shake’ and ‘stay’.
- Techniques for walking your dog with a lead.
- Toilet training techniques.
- ‘Recall’ techniques, or teaching your dog to come when called.
- Techniques to settle your pup for sleep.
- Techniques to prepare your pup for handling by vets and groomers.
- Information about diet and feeding.
- Tips for managing problem behaviours in pups.
Generally speaking, most training that your dog will do at puppy school is based on the principle of positive reinforcement, which is to say that he or she will be rewarded with treats for learning to respond to commands and displaying desirable behaviours.
When can you sign up for puppy school?
Most puppy school programs will welcome your dog once it has received its first vaccination against parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis.This occurs between the ages of 6-8 weeks and is generally considered the point when it’s safe to begin interacting with other dogs.
Puppies typically receive their first booster vaccination at 10-12 weeks, and some puppy schools may require you to wait until this point to enrol, so it is important to check the individual rules before signing your dog up.
Does your puppy need puppy school?
Puppy school is completely optional, however, there can be a number of potential advantages. According to RSPCA Pet Insurance, puppy school can:
- Help teach your pup to socialise with other dogs in a controlled setting.
- Help familiarise your pup with attending the vet.
- Provide a more cost-effective alternative to individual dog training sessions.
- Help owners make friends and share knowledge with other owners.
- Help limit problem behaviours in dogs later in life – a 2021 study found that dogs that attended puppy training classes before six months of age were less prone to aggression, compulsive and destructive behaviour than dogs who did not.
If you want to give your puppy a strong start, instil techniques for socialising with other dogs and humans, and learn some useful training tips and techniques, then puppy school may be a worthwhile consideration.
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