I’m no expert when it comes to dogs, puppies or animals in general. Whilst I am studying a degree that interacts with native wildlife, I have never studied anything along the lines of dog behaviour or veterinary science. What I do have though is a whole crap load of firsthand experience that I want to share. In my adult years I have raised or helped to raise eight puppies, four of which I personally took to puppy pre-school from the age of eight weeks old.
You might think that I am over reaching myself by caring for eight dogs in the last four years, but I can assure you they are not all mine, I only have the two, Charlie and Theo.
While I have always loved dogs, and grown up around dogs my whole life, not all dog interactions in my life have been positive. And because of this I have learned how important the correct training and interactions with your pup can be from day one!
Most recently, in April and May of 2017 I fostered 4 border collie cross pups from near death at the age of 3 weeks old. Thankfully all survived and I found them all loving homes, but my darlings, Badger, Zara, Terra and Odin will forever be in my hearts. Two of these pups I took to puppy pre-school on my recommendation and the new owners request until they were able to be taken by their new families.
Before that I raised Theo, my beautiful red spoodle, since he was 9 weeks old, he is my perfect, gentle soul and of course, I took him to puppy pre-school as soon as I was able to!
Before Theodore, we raised Charlie, we brought Charlie, an apricot Spoodle, home at 10 weeks of age, and Charlie too went to puppy pre-school from the first week we could take him.
I also helped to raise Kody’s family dog, Archer. While he wasn’t my dog I did live in the home when he was brought home as a pup and I was active in his life. Archer is in every sense a gentle giant, from day one, 10-week-old Charlie bossed him around, and the big goofy Ridgeback just took it in his stride!
And finally, the eighth dog was my Darcie girl. Unfortunately, she is the reason I have had to be so careful with all my future fur babies, she was my bad experience. I am sad to say that we had to give her up due to some serious aggression issues. And part of me feels that this might have been prevented with correct socialisation as a puppy!
Now that you can see my puppy filled past, and perhaps see where I’m coming from I’ll get into the pros and cons of starting puppy preschool as soon as possible, and giving your new pup the best start to his/her life!
The biggest factor is a no brainer, socialisation; for both yourself and your new pup. From about 8 to 16 weeks old your pup is basically forming an opinion about everything it interacts, and this opinion could be held for the rest of its life. You should try to introduce your pup to as much as possible, but be aware that exposing them to anything too frightening or traumatic may have a lasting impression. Different veterinary clinics have different guidelines for when your pup can be exposed to the outside world. My vet recommended taking my pup out to experience as many new things as possible as soon as possible, but do not let them walk on the ground or meet other dogs until 10 days after their third and final vaccination to keep them safe. Since your pup can’t meet any other dogs in this period, puppy pre-school is their only safe interaction with other dogs until after their final vaccination.
- Basic Training:
These classes provide the perfect space and instruction for basic puppy training. Your 8 old pup isn’t going to turn into Lassie, but you can set the groundwork for an obedient and attentive dog. The vet nurse running your class should instruct you how to train your dog basic commands such as; sit, drop, stay, come etc.
- Owner Training:
These classes are also a perfect opportunity to fit in a little owner training too. The vet nurse will use this time to go over important information that could be vital for puppy. They may also show you how to interact with your pup (anxious new fur parents tend to be very quick at picking their pup up at any chance of a negative interaction, however you should let the pups work it out, and the vet nurse will intervene if they think it is required. If your hovering over your pup then you may actually be causing your pup undue stress and anxiety, which may lead into aggression issues in the future). My favourite of these talks was what was and wasn’t poisonous, what human foods could potentially kill your pup if fed to them, very useful information to have! They also like to talk over future vaccinations and check-ups as well as warning signs for injury and disease.
- Fur Friends:
Where else will you meet other gorgeous puppies the same age as your pup? Puppy pre-school can be a great place to swap numbers and plan future play dates. Dogs love socialisation, and it is great to have regular puppy play dates and catch ups!
- Regular Vet:
I took both of my boys to the same puppy pre-school, run through my regular vet. The boys both loved the experience so much that they are ecstatic every single vet visit we take. Charlie was still keen to go back after he was neutered there! It can really help you out down the track.
- Pass the Puppy:
And the ultimate reason for going to puppy pre-school? They play this delightful little game called ‘Pass the Puppy’ and it is exactly how it sounds. You all pass your puppies around in a circle so the pups can get used to lots of people touching and stroking them, while you get to snuggle a whole pile of adorable puppies! What more reason do you need?!
- Exposure Risk:
Of course, while all the pups are vaccinated to a certain point (and need to show proof of this to the vet nurse), there is always the chance that someone has done the wrong thing and had their pup interact with another dog who may be carrying a doggy virus. The likeliness of this happening and then infecting your own pup is however incredibly slim.
- Negative Interaction:
As I said earlier, the first 8 to 16 weeks of a puppy’s life are the most crucial in regard to exposure. Although you want to expose your pup to as much as possible, be aware that any negative interactions may have a lasting impression.
Puppy pre-school isn’t especially cheap, even compared to other, adult dog obedience classes. It roughly costs $70-$90 for a 4-week enrolment, with classes running for one hour per week. But it is the cost of safety for your pup, and in my opinion completely necessary!
Now, I’m sure you can guess that I think the pros far outweigh the cons, and I feel that it is vital for a happy, healthy and well-adjusted pup to attend a puppy pre-school before he or she interacts with other dogs and the outside world!
I really hope this post gave you a little insight into why you may or may not enrol your pup into puppy pre-school, and I hope you give it serious consideration if you have a new fur addition to your family!
Have you taken your puppies to puppy pre-school in the past?
What are your thoughts on this subject, are you pro or against?
Did this post help you make a more informed decision for your pet?
Thanks for stopping by.