Puppy school is so much more than dog obedience training. It’s also a way for your dog to recognise and understand other dog’s body language and social behaviour. Then there’s no misunderstanding down the line. Plus, it’s an outlet for your pup’s boundless energy reserves, helping them be better friends to us.
So, of all the puppy schools in New Zealand, how do you find the one that’s right for your pup?
Find out here.
What makes a puppy school good?
The puppy school industry is not regulated, so anybody can start up one. Check each out thoroughly before enrolling.
Research facts and opinions
Sound research will help you find a trusted puppy school that treats your pup well and helps them realise their potential.
A good starting point is a recommendation from your vet or friend whose pup is already enrolled at one. Look at online reviews too. A school with a good reputation among dog parents is more likely to give you what you need.
Then, make a list of puppy schools near you and check out their website and/or social media pages. Check the instructors’ qualifications and speak to them to see if you like their approach to teaching. You’ll also want to know how long the school’s been in operation, what accolades it’s received and what their top classes are.
A good puppy school will ask you questions too, like if pup is vaccinated and about their history and personality.
Find out if you can do a trial class and see if your puppy gets on with the instructor – because just like humans, having a teacher you get on with can go a long way! While you’re there, walk around the premises to see if they’re clean and puppy safe and meet your expectations.
Observe how the dogs at the school behave to see if they’re anxious and afraid or happy and engaged. Read is my dog scared to find out how dogs show signs of fear.
Keep a close eye on your own dog while there too, to see how they feel about it.
Is puppy school worth it?
Yes, unless you have ample time to train your own pup regularly (here are our puppy training tips), dogs need lots of controlled stimulation every day. Dogs are highly intelligent with the capacity to learn hundreds of commands, from sitting and staying to retrieving and rescuing.
But what happens to these skills when dogs don’t have the opportunity to train and learn? They can become pent up, frustrated, or aggressive. Without proper guidance, dogs can end up having bad experiences with humans or other pets.
Like being scolded for barking loudly or toileting in the wrong place (read these tips for toilet training your puppy). However incidental these reprimands may seem they can traumatise a dog and result in lasting behavioural issues. That’s why rewards-based training– rather than scolding – is well thought of by pet behaviourists.
Fixing these behaviours can be more difficult than preventing them in the first place, which is why proper regimented training can benefit a pup.
And it’s not just puppies who benefit, rescue dogs often benefit from training at puppy schools in New Zealand. So too older dogs who’ve formed bad habits.
When should you start puppy classes?
Puppies should begin dog obedience training from as young as eight weeks old. Those adorable zoomies and the desire to smell and taste everything are your pup’s natural methods for learning. Everything they do is a lesson and anything they learn incorrectly is going to have to be unlearnt and retaught down the line.
So, starting right from the get-go can be invaluable. Especially if you consider why do dogs bite, as this has been a prominent issue in New Zealand of late.
As mentioned, adult dogs and older puppies can also benefit greatly from obedience classes. There’s no need to see any age as a cut off date to learn because old dogs really can learn new tricks. Some dog schools have specially designed classes for older dogs and for dogs with behavioural issues.
Some schools include lessons for pet parents too, so you can take home new behaviours that benefit pooch.
Dog schools in New Zealand
Now you know what to look for, you can turn to your vet, a friend or Google to begin your search of puppy schools in New Zealand. According to Money Hub, the top 10 puppy schools in New Zealand at the time of writing are (in no particular order):
- The K9 Way
- Barkley Manor
- Training Dogs For Life
- Akarana Dog Training Club
- Good Dog Training
- Complete Canine Care
- Urban Dogs
- Dog HQ Day Care in Albany
- North Shore Dog Training Club Inc
- Doggy Dan
These schools were selected from a combination of reviews from Google Business, TradeMe Services and Facebook. While a great indicator, reviews are always subjective – it’s still very important you do your own homework before signing up.
Also, your dog has its own unique circumstances that might be better suited to one New Zealand puppy school over another.
Some of these schools specialise in certain breeds or age groups while some deal with specific areas of training such as agility. So, get your browser open on them and see which ones look like they match you and your pooch. Then head over and get to know them in person before committing.
How do you keep a puppy safe at puppy school?
In addition to love and training, give your pup a soft landing with dog insurance. This goes a long way in reducing financial considerations around emergency and routine visits to the vet, as well as other medical treatments.
Because dogs in puppy school are still learning the right behaviours, it can be worthwhile getting pet insurance before you head into one. PD Insurance recently paid a claim for the leg amputation of a dog whose puppy school bite became severely infected.
Pet insurance is also a way to protect other people and their belongings, thanks to third party liability cover. If pup eats your friend’s home furnishings during a puppy playdate you won’t have to foot the bill alone.
Puppy school – over to you
Do you have a puppy or a dog that you’ve happily enrolled in one of the puppy schools in New Zealand? Perhaps you’re doing dog obedience classes with a pet behaviourist instead? Share your tips on how to you made your choice and tell us how your dog has benefited in the comments.