...we don't need training classes!!! Oh, how this statement gets me going. I am not really an "in-your-face" trainer -- when you need me, I'm there for you with advice, classes, information, support. But I am not out stopping people while their dogs are pulling them down the street and handing them my business card. Just not my style.
But I KNOW, without a doubt, how important puppy classes are for ALL puppies!!! The socialization, the opportunities, the experience, the one-on-one time, the support system. So many reasons to take puppies to puppy classes and yet, most people don't do it. They see their compliant, easy-going, smart puppy and they decide that puppy classes are not necessary. Then they wake up and they have an adolescent puppy -- chewing, biting, pottying in the house, barking, acting stupid, teenaged, almost full-grown adolescent puppy. What happened?!?!? They are growing up. That's all. They are growing up. But we have missed a chance to lay a really firm foundation and have nothing to fall back on when this crazed adolescent time creeps up on us.
When we get a dog, it comes with a commitment to the dog's well-being for the rest of his/her life. Training is part of that well-being. If I choose not to train, so many things can and will happen that will diminish not only the quality of my dog's life, but could actually shorten his/her life. If my dog doesn't know not to bolt out the front door when it opens, then one day he is going to do just that and end up hit by a car. But if I had trained him as a puppy to wait at doors, this is not a problem. If my dog doesn't know a "leave it" cue and I drop a prescription medication all over the floor, she may ingest a dangerous, potentially toxic and lethal substance. But if my dog started learning "leave it" when she was a puppy, I will have a dog that backs away and lets me clean up my mess without interference.
I have heard the average age of dogs in rescue is 10 -- 24 months old -- rock solid teenagers. They are not so little and cute and compliant and end up in rescue because their families can't handle them anymore. If more people realized the value of puppy training and classes, maybe we could reduce the number of dogs in rescue...definitely food for thought.
I had a dog come to our basic class a few years ago. This dog was nuts!!! She was a year old and the family had heard you don't start to train a dog until they are at least one. So, here they were. So many issues, so many obstacles, and so much training to do. This dog had never had any boundaries set for her in her entire life! It took over a year of various classes, but she's doing okay now. She still has her moments and she still is very wary of other dogs, but she has come a long way and has become the dog they wanted in the first place. Puppy training would have changed things for this family.
If you know someone with a puppy, encourage them to find a positive reinforcement trainer and take puppy classes!!! Tell them it's a good thing to share their wonderful puppy and to take classes. You just might save a puppy's life.