By Karen A. Soukiasian
The first 20 weeks of a puppy’s life are crucial to how they will develop. Dogs learn by association. The more positive their associations are, the faster they will learn whatever it is you want to teach them.
It is all about setting a solid foundation. Puppy kindergarten will play a vital part with bonding, self-confidence, and good manners. It is an important part of increasing their willingness to be biddable, developing their coping skills and honing their social skills; such as their behavior in public and their interaction with adults, children, other dogs and other animals.
BONDING – Bonding with your puppy is what creates the groundwork for a solid relationship of mutual trust and respect. It is every dog owners wish, to have that special connection with their dog. Bonding is what makes that happen. The time and effort invested in your puppy in those first 20 weeks, is worth more than you realize. It is at this point, both you and your pet, learn to work as a team.
SELF-CONFIDENCE – A self-confident puppy will grow up to be a self-confident adult dog. That means they will have the coping skills to handle anything life throws in their direction, without being fearful or over reacting. Puppy kindergarten helps develop the coping skills that teach them to work through a new situation, without freaking out!
A fearful dog is a dangerous dog. When asked which they prefer to work with, a fearful or an aggressive dog, most dog trainers would answer the latter. An aggressive dog is predictable. With an aggressive dog, you know what you are working with and can take necessary precautions. A fearful dog is unpredictable, therefore more often than not more dangerous.
MANNERS – Puppy kindergarten sets the foundation for a well-mannered adult dog. It is a sort of prerequisite for Basic Obedience. Here a puppy is given more wiggle room to make mistakes, because even mistakes are something they can learn from. They also learn in life there is no such thing as a “free lunch.”
BIDDABLE – A biddable dog is one that wants to please you. In puppy kindergarten, your puppy begins to associate they have to earn what they want. They make the connection all good things come from you, and before they get what they want, you have to get what you want first. They learn there are boundaries, and if you overstep them, there are consequences. They also learn there are great rewards, for appropriate behavior and good manners.
SOCIAL SKILLS – A well-mannered, well-behaved, sociable dog is a pleasure to take anywhere. You will never worry or be embarrassed how they will behave. By attending puppy kindergarten, they have learned to interact in a positive, self-controlled way with new situations, new people, other dogs and other animals.
A dog with quality social skills knows what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, because their behavior has been modified through positive reinforcement and punishment-free training.
Bottom line: A puppy is a clean slate. How they mature and what type of adult dog you will end up with depends on the enthusiasm and commitment you are willing to make while they are young.
Training never ends. A dog never stops learning. If you are willing to make the investment when they are a puppy, you will collect enormous dividend for the rest of their life. Find a local trainer who applies positive reinforcement, punishment-free training methods at the puppy kindergarten level. You’ll be glad you did!
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