Puppy Playschool classes are run in four week cycles on a Tuesday night from 7pm until 8pm. Puppy Playschool is a chance for your new addition to socialise and gain experience in an unusual environment like the vet clinic whilst learning the basics of training and health care. Puppy Playschool classes provide the best springboard to becoming a well behaved and social adult dog.
We offer smaller class sizes to ensure no puppy misses out, and have a strong focus on correct puppy socialization and reward based training.
Reward based training does NOT involve any methods that are unpleasant or cause harm to your puppy. This method is based on scientific research into canine behaviour and has been proven to be the easiest, kindest and quickest way to train dogs. As a new puppy owner this type of training creates a stronger bond between you and your puppy built on trust, and makes for a happier and more relaxed adult dog that will look to you for guidance.
So how does this training method work? Dogs are motivated by what they find rewarding and enjoyable – and they are always trying to work out how to get it! In puppies, rewards usually start as tasty food like chicken or apple or dried liver. As dogs mature and their training continues, food rewards are gradually replaced with cuddles and pats and ‘bridging’words. When a puppies behaviour results in a reward, they are much more likely to repeat that behaviour!
Currently our classes are being trained by Sarah: One of our Veterinary Nursing team.
Sarah is a fully qualified veterinary nurse who has been working in the industry since the year 2000! She has a keen interest in animal behaviour, and runs her own successful Horse Reeducation and Development program. She has taught Puppy School for 6 years on and off at various veterinary clinics. She also has qualification in counselling and psychotherapy to further understand human and animal development.
She currently has a four-legged family comprised of two kelpies Lilo and Sammy, fourteen horses (many of which she bred herself whilst running a Quarter Horse stud) and one kitty Cat named Mocha that also does tricks.
If you are enrolled in our class, what do you need to know:
1 – Bring Tasty Treats. Each of your treats should be no bigger than your little fingernail.
It’s also important to use higher value treats for puppy classes; but what does higher value mean?
When training at home your puppy has little to know distraction so will respond to treats that are perhaps a little less tasty (like dried liver, schmackos or doggy kibble). This can often fall apart once you take them to classes or into the real world. To combat this, you need to up your treat game! Try things like: Small pieces of chicken, fritz, cheese, ham, roast beef, cooked veggies, apple, carrot, kabana, sausage etc. Even better, make up a mixed bag of all of these so your puppy gets something yummy and new every time.
If your puppy has a sensitive stomach, stick with cooked chicken breast.
2 – Don’t feed them before class. An empty tummy makes for a more attentive pup. Plus with all the treats they are getting, they won’t need dinner after class either!
3 – Bring a favourite toy. Some pups don’t respond to food as much as toys, so find one that is extra special and keep it locked away during the week and only bring it out for training class!
4 – Make sure you have them on a harness/collar and lead. We DO NOT advocate the use of any type of slip lead or check chain/choker chain. The following information has been taken from the RSPCA South Australia Website regarding the best forms of equipment you should purchase for your puppy:
Illegal and non-recommended equipment that should be avoided completely:
Some collars cause pain or distress upon your dog, which always leads to a reduction in the quality of the relationship you share with your dog. Dr Susan Friedman likens it to a bank account. The good times you spend with your dog builds a strong bank balance of mutual trust and respect. If you physically correct or intimidate your dog then you have made a large withdrawal from that account.
The use of collars that constrict the neck, such as check or prong collars, also have a high risk of causing damage to sensitive tissues such as the trachea (windpipe), the oesophagus (food pipe) and thyroid glands.
You may think that a dog will not pull if it causes pain. However, the urge to pull can be stronger than the aversion to pain, resulting in significant tissue damage in the neck region. In addition, even though the pulling or ‘checking’ (correction) is done intermittently, its effect is cumulative and contributes to repetitive trauma of the neck.
Other non-recommended collars
Some products on the market are aimed at preventing dogs from barking or engaging in other unwanted behaviour, such as escaping. These products include electric shock collars (collars that deliver an electric shock to your dog), sound collars (collars that emit a high-pitched sound) and citronella collars (collars that spray your dog’s face with citronella scent when it barks).
RSPCA Australia does not recommend the use of these specific collars to stop your dog barking for a number of reasons:
- They’re often ineffective as some dogs do not associate the punishment (e.g. shock or citronella spray) with the behaviour.
- They tend not to be successful because they fail to address the underlying cause of the behaviour (e.g. play, fear etc) and may only temporarily mask the problem or some dogs may habituate to the collar and barking will resume.
- Sometimes it is appropriate for dogs to bark (e.g. as a means of communication) in which case the collar punishes them for normal behaviour. There is also the potential for abuse if the collar is routinely left on for too long.
The treatment of undesirable behaviour such as excessive barking should begin by consulting with a force-free trainer, who can help identify and address the cause of the problem.
The dog walking equipment RSPCA recommends:
We recommend walking harnesses for dogs, which can help manage and prevent pulling on the lead – but should be used in conjunction with force-free training. See our detailed blog on which harness to use when.