What is Puppy School?
Puppy school is the first step of your puppy's journey to being a happy, healthy dog with the skills to fit in to the often-complicated lives that they share with us.
Puppy school can be likened to preschool for children where the foundation is laid for a lifetime of learning, creative thinking and good habits. When puppies leave their moms between 8 and 12 weeks of age, they are in the stage of their brain development known as the socialisation period. This socialisation period starts when they are approximately 4 weeks old and lasts until they are approximately 16 weeks old. During this time, puppies are open to meeting other dogs, animals, people, places, situations and things. They are inquisitive and friendly and are generally not fearful of novel things. This is also an ideal time for them to start learning the many important skills they need to thrive in our humancentric world. Learning to be handled and touched in certain ways prepares them for vet visits and grooming, learning to tolerate frustration prepares them for things like waiting for food, walks or playtime, learning to control their impulses helps them develop good manners and learning to understand basic commands like sit prepares them for a lifetime of communication with humans.
All of these things sound quite simple but they are so important for the prevention of behaviour problems which can end up affecting the bond we share with our dogs. Meeting other dogs and honing their body language communication skills helps to prevent problems with aggression. Meeting different people and experiencing a variety of different sights and sounds helps to prevent the development of debilitating fear conditions such as noise phobia and separation anxiety. Our puppies will be faced with choices every day (like whether or not to chew our possessions) and it is important that they learn to how to make good choices while they are still young.
Puppy school is generally held over the course of a couple of weeks to match this sensitive period and so puppies 8-20 weeks of age should be attending puppy school during this time. These classes are held in a clean, safe environment which is so important when our puppies are still young and susceptible to infectious diseases. Classes are generally an hour long and puppy parents are expected to attend with their puppies. There are important skills for you to learn too! Potty training, basic training techniques and how to deal with those little piranha teeth are skills we all need when starting our journey with our new puppy and even people who have shared many years of their lives with dogs will benefit from the new knowledge and skills that our Hill's puppy school trainers are eager to share. Some puppies might even be attending puppy daycare but this is supplementary to and not a replacement for puppy school.
Puppy school is an investment in your life with your new puppy!