Your puppy’s development includes critical socialization periods, during which you have the best chance to help him become a confident, social adult. This is done through exposing him to appropriate types of stimulation and positive social experiences. These critical socialization periods lay the groundwork for your puppy’s social life but end very quickly–at about 16 -18 weeks of age. However, most puppies will not be fully immunized until after this critical period has ended. Waiting to socialize your puppy until after all vaccinations have been completed can contribute to a lifetime of problems for your dog. In order to balance the urgent need for early socialization and the risk of infection for developing immune systems, we require that the puppy has its second set of vaccinations to start classes. To ensure that there will be space for you in the class when you are ready to begin (after the second set of vaccinations are completed), we suggest calling to register for puppy classes once you have scheduled the vaccinations with your veterinarian.
To ensure that you are building a strong foundation for your dog’s obedience skills and that you understand the important concepts at work in training the dog, it is helpful to start at the beginning with thorough explanations and professional advice. Many dogs will be able to perform some skills at home with little distraction, but need to learn how to focus on the owner in a more distracting setting, as this is what they will encounter in real life situations. If your dog has taken a Beginner level class at another facility using positive reinforcement-based methods and can demonstrate competence with the skills taught, you may move ahead into the Better Obedience skills course.
Generally, dogs who are over-stimulated or uncomfortable around other dogs/people will find a regular class setting overwhelming and stressful, and this may worsen their reactive behavior. Happy Tails Dog Training is experienced in working with special needs dogs, with careful consideration paid to the safety and quality of class for our other students. Our specialty behavior class, “Settle Down Spot”, is designed specifically for dogs who are over-excited, fearful, reactive, or aggressive, as it allows us to carefully manipulate the dog’s exposure to their triggers and to teach owners the necessary behavior modification and handling skills. Please be sure to provide detailed information about your dog’s specific issues before registering for a class, so we can help you choose the right class for your dog and make your class experience as positive as possible. If found to be necessary, we reserve the right to remove the dog from class, and will provide other options for working with the dog such as private consultations/sessions.
We encourage other interested family members to take an active part in the dog’s training, as consistency between family members is essential. If possible, please try to avoid having a person fill in for a class if they have not been keeping up with the dog’s lessons, because continuity is very important to your dog’s learning. A big part of dog training involves “training” people—the ones who will be receiving the instruction and then teaching the dog. For your dog training to have the best results, the trainer must be capable of understanding the instruction and applying it with their dog. For this reason, your child should not be the primary trainer. Your well-behaved and interested children are welcome to attend classes and work with your dog, but there are special safety concerns and responsibilities for parents who choose to include their children in their dog’s training. Parents are directly responsible for helping their child understand the instructions and apply them with the dog. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult and children under 8 years of age should be accompanied by 2 adults (to ensure adequate supervision for the child and to make sure the dog is getting the attention it requires for proper training). Children must behave calmly during classes to avoid distracting/confusing or stressing the dogs (the class environment is distracting enough for the dogs without a little person bouncing around and talking to them while they are trying to concentrate!).
NOTE: Children (under 16 years of age) are not permitted to attend the behavior class, “Settle Down Spot”, for over-excited, fearful, reactive, or aggressive dogs.
Class registration must be done by phone, as we believe it is important to discuss your dog’s needs/behaviors in advance, so that we can help you choose the best option for your dog. Depending on the class you are interested in, there may be special handler requirements and registration procedures applied. We do require a non-refundable credit card deposit to hold your spot in the classes. Classes fill up early (usually about one month in advance), so please register early to avoid disappointment.
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