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.

Check collars

Check collars are primarily made of metal chain and are designed to tighten around a dog’s neck whenever pressure is applied. These collars slip over a dog’s head and attach to the lead. They are promoted by trainers to correct unwanted behaviours by jerking on the lead to cause a rapid constriction around the neck. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior warns of the inherent dangers of using check collars including causing or increasing aggression, potential to increase undesired behaviours and physical damage to soft tissue structures in the neck.




Prong collars

Prong collars (also known as a pinch or constriction collars) are also made of metal and are designed to tighten around a dog’s neck whenever pressure is applied. The prong collar has a series of fang-shaped metal links, or prongs, with blunted points which when pulled pinch a dog’s neck. These collars are used to correct unwanted behaviour. Even if used without corrections, these collars can still cause pain, discomfort and injury to your dog and, in extreme cases, brain damage (Grohmann et el 2014). Under Australian Customs legislation, it is illegal to import ‘pronged collars’. However, many dog owners are not aware of this and unscrupulous distributors import the collar in segments to avoid breaching the import legislation. Upon arrival, the collars are reassembled and sold. In April 2014, a petition on Facebook succeeded in pressuring Amazon UK to stop the sale of prong collars. After receiving the petition, the online retailer stopped selling the aversive dog collars on their website. RSPCA South Australia will continue to investigate ways to stop the import, sale and use of prong collars.]


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:

  1. They’re often ineffective as some dogs do not associate the punishment (e.g. shock or citronella spray) with the behaviour.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Illegal – electric shock collars

It is illegal to use electric collars (even if not switched on) of any type in South Australia under the Animal Welfare Act. People who place an electric collar on their dog risk a $10,000 fine or 12 months’ imprisonment. If you know of anyone recommending or using one of these collars, please call the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty hotline on 1300 4 777 22.


Citronella collars

Dogs have a highly developed sense of smell and the strong odour emitted by citronella collars is very unpleasant and aversive. Citronella collars are used as a ‘quick fix’ but fail to address the underlying cause of the behaviour and therefore have limited success. They may also create unwanted side effects.


High-pitched sound collars

Dogs have very acute hearing and ultrasonic dog collars deliver a high frequency sound. No evidence is available to confirm that these are not harmful, so RSPCA does not recommend the use of these devices. Reports have been received where dogs have shown very fearful, anxious or distressed behaviour due to these high pitched sounds, including both the ‘target’ dog and any dogs in the vicinity such as neighbouring dogs.

Flat collars

Flat collars are commonly used to hold identification and registration tags, which is acceptable. However, these collars should not be used for dog walking. If your dog pulls on the lead while walking, the pressure on the neck and throat can cause discomfort and possibly injury. By using a front attaching harness and force-free training instead, loose lead walking can be achieved very quickly.

Martingale collars

Martingale collars are similar to flat collars but tighten when the dog pulls. As with flat collars, it is not recommended to use a martingale collar if your dog pulls on lead as damage can still occur. Use a front-attaching harness and force-free training instead.



Flexi or retractable leads

These are not recommended as they have caused serious eye and hand injuries (including burns, cuts and amputations) to handlers, and also pose a very serious risk to children who may use them. Injuries have also been caused to dogs. These leads do not allow effective control, often break, can cause tangles and also encourage your dog to pull, as they learn that pulling extends the lead. They often extend longer than 2 metres and are therefore not legal.


Head collars

Also known as head halter, head collars are designed to help manage your dog by guiding the head, just as halters are used with horses. A head collar is not recommended as the first option for walking, as many dogs find them uncomfortable and dogs need to be given time to adapt to wearing one. Ideally, head collars should only be used under the advice of a force-free trainer or a qualified veterinary behaviourist.



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.

Front Attach Dog Harness

Front-attach harnesses

A front-attach harness is our first choice for recommended equipment when training and walking your dog, as it offers good control while being humane and gentle. The harness goes around your dog’s midsection behind the front legs, and loops around the chest with a leash ring at the front. A dog’s centre of gravity is located at the chest, so when they pull, the harness is designed to gently turn the dog toward you which helps to stop pulling on the lead. There is no pressure or restriction on the neck and dogs accept the front attach harness easily. But it’s essential to ensure that the harness is fitted correctly.


Back Attach Dog Harness

Back-attach harnesses

Back-attach harnesses are the most common type used, especially with small dogs. However, they are often ineffective in preventing pulling, as your dog can use their full body weight to pull on the lead. If your dog doesn’t pull then the back attach harness is a safer option than a collar. If your dog does pull then it is best to use a front-attach harness.



lead image


Legally, in South Australia, your dog must be on a lead no longer than two metres in length at all times in public places, under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1985 – unless in a designated off-lead park or beach where they need to be “under effective control”. We recommend walking your dog on a lead made of cotton webbing or similar material up to two metres in length – in conjunction with a harness, rather than just a collar.



Double-ended lead

Double-ended leads

Double-ended leads have two points of contact with a clip on each end and rings at varying intervals along the lead. The double-ended lead can be used with a front-attach harness; one end of the lead attaches to the front ring at the chest and one clip attaches the ring on the back. Using a double ended lead can help when training your dog to walk on lead as it gives more control with two points of contact. The rings attached along the lead also means it can be used as a normal lead by attaching one of the end clips to the dog’s harness and then looping the other end over and attaching it to one of the rings on the lead creating a loop at the end to hold on to.  Double ended leads are generally used under the guidance of a force-free trainer. It is not recommended to use one without professional advice.