How to get the most out of puppy class?

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How to get the most out of puppy class?

This is a discussion on How to get the most out of puppy class? within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Hello all, So Lila and I went to the pre-puppy class "puppy party" last night and it was so much fun. I mean, it was ...

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Old 08-15-2014, 04:15 PM
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How to get the most out of puppy class?

Hello all,
So Lila and I went to the pre-puppy class "puppy party" last night and it was so much fun. I mean, it was a room full of like 10 puppies, so how could it not be

I also loved the trainer. I stayed after and asked her to give Lila a couple treats since she takes a little while to warm up to new people an the trainer just did some target training to her hand with the clicker and immediately one Lila over.

My question is, since Lila's basic obedience is well established, and the other dogs not so much, how can I get the most out of puppy class? Last night, we worked on "watch me" (by calling their name) and "sit" with a clicker but Lila was just confused for a chunk of it since the cues were all different (didn't help that if Lila doesn't know what I want she just tries a bunch of stuff at random). I really want her to get that awesome socialization in and I want to practice her basic cues around the other dogs for distraction, BUT I don't want to have to go over a ton of stuff she knows really well in new and confusing ways. For example, I also use a lot of hand signals for Lila since I like that they force her to keep her eyes on me and that I can do them silently so we can work in public w/out drawing attention. Since we had to keep out hand behind our back, Lila assumed I was asking for "speak" since it doesn't have a hand signal and was barking randomly.

Has anyone had a similar experience in puppy class? I'm looking at you @cookieface, I'm sure Tyson had some basic obedience when you started
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:30 PM
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Why not tell the trainer that you're using different cues/methods? She shouldn't have a problem with that. I'd use the cues or methods you've been using to avoid the confusion. I used to teach puppy classes many moons ago. I didn't care what cue words or hand signals people used. The goal was to teach a behavior and the owner was free to use whatever they wanted. The key was being consistent.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:36 PM
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Great advice! I'll talk with her. She said that I'm free to remove Lila whenever we do an exercise that she feels uncomfortable with (involves other people touching her, although she did GREAT with someone else holding her, although their puggle mauled my face...). I think she knows I'm a dog person
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Old 08-15-2014, 06:46 PM
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I agree with Grabby - explain that you've used different cues and hand signals and would like to continue using them with Lila. Our puppy class trainer didn't care what we named a behavior as long as we were teaching using R+ methods and weren't inadvertently training the wrong thing (e.g., reinforcing leash pulling or jumping).

Working near other dogs, keeping her attention in a busy environment, introducing her to novel objects in a safe manner are all things a puppy class should offer. At our classes, there was always at least one new object or sound - table, bike, wheelchair, low plank, mini-tunnel, flattened A-frame, vacuum - that we allowed the pups to investigate.

Puppy classes should also help you with your technique. You know the basics of R+, but getting your timing right, knowing when to move forward and when to continue building a new skill, and learning how to introduce new experiences safely are things you should learn, too. Of course, a puppy class won't make you an expert, but it should help.

Mostly though, puppy class should be fun for you and Lila.

Tyson and I just finished puppy class. He's still shy, but getting better. He knew sit, had the beginning of down, and sort of had a recall (mostly because he stuck to me like glue) when we started, but honestly, most of my time was spent supervising him and Katie so we didn't get much actual training done.

I'm eager to get him into a basic manners class, but I'm waiting for the advance schedule to be posted. There are far more "pet" classes than advanced classes, so it will be easier to work around Katie's schedule.


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Originally Posted by cbarkerb724 View Post
Great advice! I'll talk with her. She said that I'm free to remove Lila whenever we do an exercise that she feels uncomfortable with (involves other people touching her, although she did GREAT with someone else holding her, although their puggle mauled my face...). I think she knows I'm a dog person
One of the puppies in our class bit into my thumb. OMG! Now I know why people complain about puppy biting so much. I bled all over the place and my thumb throbbed for a week.
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:19 PM
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One of the puppies in our class bit into my thumb. OMG! Now I know why people complain about puppy biting so much. I bled all over the place and my thumb throbbed for a week.
Oh no! I think Tyson and Lila are both pretty well-mannered for puppies which is unique; seeing some other pups her age really made me appreciate Lila! I mean, they'll all be great dogs, but I'm grateful that my road to a great dog is less blood-stained than average...

The recall practice is GREAT! We have to stay at "arm's length" from our dogs during free-play. Lila is fast and I'm a klutz so I was having trouble chasing her. I eventually just started just doing recall when she got too far away and I felt like it really helped proof it.

I hope the instructor can make a little time to work one-on-one with me during class on timing and such, but it's a huge class which is good in a lot of ways I guess. I'd really love her input on Lila's "watch me" and "stay," she has trouble with both and I would love to find a way to explain them to her better (so to speak, well, no trouble with "speak" actually ).

I will talk to the instructor before next class about using my hand signals and vocal cues for stuff Lila knows! Very exciting!
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