Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Puppy Class

Melissa has started puppy class! The class I am attending is taught by using the most up to date techniques based on scientific evidence. No yelling, jerking on leads or choke collars are allowed; positive reinforcement abounds. The atmosphere is stress-free. The setting is conducive for all the puppies to learn because they want to, not because they are intimidated. The instructor takes care that each dog has their own space to work in. No other dog can intrude on Melissa's space while she is trying new skills. She also has opportunity to show off the skills we worked on at home during the previous week. Training in a classroom situation teaches her that the skills we learn at home can follow over to different places. What good would it be if Melissa could only sit, stay and come at home? We learn in a quiet environment at home, then slowly increase the distractions in a class room situation, and then we take it on the road.

I want a dog who is able to follow my cues in all situations. Melissa is learning to focus and follow my cues no matter what is going on around her. She is learning self control skills, along with basic manners that will make her a pleasure to live with in the years to come. The classroom situation is just a tiny part of her continuing socialization. We go to different places and see different people every day. And we practice our new skills where ever we go. This photo shows my friend practicing with 3 dogs we took on a hike. Melissa is learning to come when called; it means run to the person who called and get rewarded with the best of tasty treats. Note that the other two dogs are patiently waiting their example of great self-control! No pushy rude behavior here! All taught by using positive reinforcement techniques.

But what about vaccinations? Melissa had her first vaccine before I brought her home. All the puppies in her class also are required to have at least one vaccine. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has issued a statement on the importance of socialization. ' should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated'. For more info on how the benefits of early socialization out weigh the risk of waiting until the full series of vaccinations are completed:

Have fun with your puppy!

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