Most of the new puppy owners ask themselves a very elementary question shortly after the little dog child moves in: “Should I go to the puppy play group with my puppy?” To answer this question, I would first like to answer a few important learning objectives of a puppy group.
The size of the puppy group is crucial
One of the most important learning goals of a puppy group is the further learning and practicing social competence. The point is that the puppy has as much good experience as possible with other puppies or adult dogs. If a dog has the opportunity to find out that his attempts to communicate with other dogs are worthwhile, an important cornerstone is laid in dealing with fellow species. The smaller the puppy group, the better the trainer can supervise game units. The game partners should fit together well in size and temperament. A good game is always balanced and reciprocal.
In puppy play the rule is: less is more!
Puppies are quickly tired and often overwhelmed by many impressions. Playing is also very tiring. If the dog’s arousal level increases during a long game phase, the likelihood that undesirable behavior will occur, such as strapping around, several dogs chasing a dog (bullying) or excessive pinching and biting. Negative experiences can be avoided in advance: good observation of the dogs, anticipatory action by the trainer and short, high-quality play units. Game and training sessions should alternate.
A good learning atmosphere is important
All participants in a puppy lesson – whether human or dog – should feel comfortable during the lesson. A friendly tone, a sympathetic trainer and a lot of fun with the training create a good learning atmosphere. It is also important that each human-dog team is dealt with individually so that the training can be designed to be highly effective and targeted. In addition to learning a high level of everyday practicality for the dog, theoretical learning content is also important for the dog owner: How do dogs communicate? How do you correctly assess the body language of the four-legged friends? How do I intervene in time if my dog feels uncomfortable in the game? Ideally, people and dogs learn together.
Stay away from training methods that cause fear in the dog
Imagine yourself in a state of stress and fear: learning is very difficult at such a moment, is it not? In the worst case, learning cannot even take place. The learning behavior of our four-legged friends is the same. If the dog is under the influence of fear or stress, learning becomes almost impossible. If, for example, punishment by intimidation (alpha throw, snout handle, splashing water), pinching, kicking, loud scolding, leash pushing, spiked collar, spray collar, throwing chains, training discs and electric collars are used during the training session “for education”, not only the trust between humans and dogs sustainably damaged but also favors fear and stress. Find out specifically whether your selected dog school has been tested in accordance with Section 11 of the Animal Welfare Act, because the above-mentioned training methods are not only counterproductive but also relevant to animal welfare.
Should I go to the puppy playgroup with my puppy?
Many factors play a role in finally being able to answer this question. How big is the puppy group? Are the dogs encouraged according to their age? What experiences can the puppies have in the puppy group? Is there a good learning environment – for humans and dogs? What training methods are used? Before the puppy moves in with you, you should look at different groups in advance. So you can get a comprehensive picture in peace, after all, not only should your four-legged friend be well. You too should feel comfortable and have fun while learning. Not only the dog learns in the dog school.