Those of you whom have known me for a while know that I’ve advocated against traditional puppy preschools. So much in fact that I used to run the Puppy SuperPowers Program in people’s homes rather than subject their pup to flooding and the evils of diseases like parvovirus.
Puppyhood is a crucial period in a dog’s life when they absorb information like sponges and form the foundation for their future behaviour and social skills. Choosing the right training program for your puppy is essential. Little Angels Dog Training’s Puppy Academy offers an alternative, that I believe, is a really valid alternative to traditional puppy preschool. In this blog post, we’ll explore why I finally took an opportunity to host Puppy Academy.
Vaccinations: Ensuring Your Puppy’s Safety
At Little Angels Dog Training’s Puppy Academy, I prioritize the safety and well-being of your furry family member. Having worked in rescue for a number of years I fully understand the importance of vaccinations to protect your puppy from potentially life-threatening diseases like parvovirus. Unlike some puppy preschools, which might be less stringent in enforcing vaccination requirements, I prefer that all our pawticipants be 7 days post their second vaccination. This is the advice from the veterinary hospital where I conduct Puppy Academy. Occasionally, I will make an exception to this rule after discussion with the Pawrent and putting extra safety measures in place to protect the pup. This ensures a safer and healthier environment for all puppies, reducing the risk of disease transmission.
The Socialization Window: Maximizing Learning Opportunities
The socialization window in a puppy’s life, typically between 3 and 14 weeks of age, is a critical time for their development. It’s when they are most receptive to new experiences and people. Puppy Academy is designed for pups aged between 8 and 14 weeks to take full advantage of this prime period once they have been placed with their new family from 8 weeks old. We safely introduce your puppy to other people and pups in their class, and curate experiences to foster positive socialisation. Puppy preschools are often just a puppy free for all play date with other pups who are also not fully vaccinated. They focus purely on play and miss key learning opportunities. At Puppy Academy my aim is to safely introduce puppies to sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures in a controlled environment.
A study by Dr Dennis Wormald (Veterinary Behaviourist and researcher) and his colleagues called Analysis of correlations between early social exposure and reported aggression in the dog, found that for every week a puppy parent delayed taking them out into the big wide world there was a 4% decrease in reactivity as the pup got older. He speculates that the reasoning behind this is that most puppy pawrents unknowingly “flood” their pup instead of gently exposing them to new things (my words, not his). Flooding is a dog training technique that is not dissimilar to Exposure Therapy in humans, except that with Flooding the dog has no opportunity to give consent. They are forced to confront something that might be scary to them with no say in how close, how loud, how interactive the stimulus is. There’s also the risk of hyper-socialisation which is when we overexpose and over stimulate our pup so that they become hypervigilant or over the top friendly. Many of you will have heard me say that the bane of my dog training life is “It’s OK, My dog is friendly”.
Controlling the Environment and Germs: A Clean and Safe Space
We know how important it is to control the environment in which your puppy learns and plays. In Puppy Academy, I maintain a clean and sanitized space to minimize the risk of infection and exposure to harmful germs. I take every precaution to ensure your puppy’s safety and well-being while they’re in my classes.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been offered venues where I can control the environment. Hard floors and surfaces that can be fogged and mopped with veterinary disinfectant. Equipment that can be washed, fogged or wiped down between each class. Like-minded Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses who provide information and support to keep your pup safe.
So, that’s why I finally started hosting Puppy Academy! I was confident that I could provide age-appropriate learning for my client’s puppies in a safe environment and at a cheaper price. To me that is a win/win.
What was your experience with puppy preschool. Tell me about your experience in the comments.