Dog kindergarten: what to choose and what a puppy learns in kindergarten?
let's start from the beginning. We dreamed about a puppy for a long time and finally he shows up in our home. He is cute, tiny and everyone wants to stroke him. Nothing unusual!
But such a little pooch is not only pure joy, but also…
responsibility. That is why it is so important to build a relationship based on trust from the very beginning and learn as much as possible about the new inhabitant of our home!
- Puppy time
- Introducing the puppy to the world
- We're going to the dog's kindergarten
- Choosing a canine kindergarten
- How to work with a puppy?
- What the dog will learn in the canine kindergarten?
- Useful commands
- Socialization with dogs
- Learning to relax
- Puppy instruction manual for the caregiver
- Rules and rules
- New surfaces, places, people and sounds
- Quarantine and dog kindergarten
Puppy timePuppy time
Puppy time is extremely important throughout the dog's later life. The principle is that what the dog learns now will pay off in the future. So what John does not learn, John will not know!
Did you know that the first 16 weeks of a toddler's life are a critical time for their brain development? Most connections are created in his brain then, neural connections and the cerebral cortex develop intensively.
What does this mean in practice?
A puppy that has come into contact with many stimuli and experiences has an advantage over the one that grows up in a poor environment. His brain will be better developed. And he will be better adapted to adult life.
Introducing the puppy to the world
The puppy period is also an important time in the pooch's life from the behavioral side, because his curiosity is usually greater than his fear. Everything that he encounters on his way will probably be interesting for him, as if he had landed on a completely different planet. Later on, the toddler will become more and more careful and attentive, which of course makes sense, because thanks to this he will be able to avoid the threat.
That is why it is so important at this stage to safely introduce the toddler to the world, other dogs and people. Thanks to this, we build his self-confidence, resistance to stress and raise a cool, social dog.
But be careful! The process of preparing a baby for adult life should be done wisely. Too quick, careless and chaotic throwing a toddler into new situations can do more harm than good!
If, for example, we introduce new stimuli, sounds or dogs without feeling, our puppy may start to withdraw if we do not notice in time that he is afraid and we will force him to contact him, for which he does not want to.
In addition, for the dog to know the rules in our world, it is worth introducing them to him as soon as possible.
We go to the dog's kindergartenDog kindergarten
In such a situation, a dog kindergarten is a good solution! Personally, I am very happy that they are becoming more and more popular and more and more people are choosing a dog kindergarten. Thanks to the correct work with a baby from an early age, we will often be able to avoid many behavioral problems in his later life!
Choosing a canine kindergarten
There is an ever wider range of dog courses, trainings and dog kindergartens on the market, and that's a good thing, because there is a lot to choose from. Before we decide to entrust our sweet puppy to such a place, let's find out as much as possible about it and don't choose it blindly.
Usually, kindergartens have their own original plans for working with puppies and not all of them teach the same. Some people put more emphasis on socialization with other dogs, they have large groups (which can be stressful for our dog if it is shy!), others focus on commands and tricks. Some conduct classes in halls and closed rooms, and others in the open space, which also affects the course and quality of classes.
Of course, let's not panic about the excess of possibilities, just sit down calmly and review the materials about a given school, check the opinions issued by other clients, ask friends doggie if they can recommend a nice dog kindergarten, maybe their pooch has already completed some and have more experience than we.
Of course, let's choose dog kindergartens that work with the help of positive training methods, i.e. reward dogs for good behavior, thanks to which they strengthen themselves. Schools that work with aversive methods, i.e. treat the dog as a machine that needs to be trained, make the dog stressed and lose confidence in us. After goodness, we will achieve much more in the long run ?
How to work with a puppy?How to work with a puppy?
Working with a young pooch is specific.
He is eager to learn and is very happy to learn something new, but…
he can only focus for a short time and needs a lot of breaks and rest. Just like a little child.
Therefore, classes in the canine kindergarten are organized in a certain way. First, the dog learns for a while, but then we give him time to rest and play with his buddies. However, we try not to stimulate and not wind him up too much in the break between "lessons ", because then he will remember not many of them.
The dog remembers best what is exciting for him (well, the same applies to us!), so in order for him to establish his knowledge well, we have to give it in a cool way, so that the pooch wants to learn. Each exercise must also be successful, the dog cannot get tired of exercising, because it will simply get discouraged.
What the dog will learn in the canine kindergarten?What the dog will learn in the canine kindergarten?
As I mentioned, every kindergarten is different, but most have a range of material that is similar. I think you can easily distinguish several areas here, such as:
- basic commands,
- introducing new stimuli,
- introducing the dog to the city,
- Puppy knowledge pack, useful for keepers.
Below I will develop each area.
The sooner we teach our toddler basic commands that will help us communicate better with him, the better.
Dogs don't know our language, but they can easily learn that there are specific actions behind certain words. So, when we want the dog to come back to us, we use a recall with the word "to me " or any other word that we choose. The dog will know that when he hears this magic word, it's time to spin, give up chasing the leaf in the park and check in at our feet, and maybe we'll get something nice in return ?
It is easy to isolate a few commands that can prove very useful in our common psi-human life. The following are the basic ones:
- Attention (dog's focus on the handler).
- Sit down (useful when you want your dog to focus, stop jumping, or let the dog calm down).
- On the spot (the dog returns to his lair, where he can relax).
- Don't move (very useful when your puppy collects litter on a walk or bites unwanted things).
- To me (summon when we want the dog to come back soon).
- Stay (when we don't want the dog to follow us or wait for us politely).
- Let go (when we want the dog to voluntarily give us back what is in its mouth).
- Stand (useful in front of a pedestrian crossing, in emergency situations when you want to stop the dog in a place).
- Lie down (we use it when we want the pooch to lie down, for example when we are in a public place and we do not want him to disturb).
Of course, there are many more commands, but these few are enough for our communication with the dog to be much better and, above all, for the dog to know what we expect from him.
We learn commands calmly and gradually, not all at once. We also cannot confuse the dog in the head. If we choose a word, stick to it. It cannot be that we try to summon the dog once with the word "to me ", then "come ", and then the name. The dog will quickly lose orientation, which is what we are also about.
Therefore, let's talk to the dog in a simple, legible language and never shout at him, because the instructions will be bad for him and he will not want to follow them. Of course, all family members should use the same word.
If something doesn't work for the dog, that's okay! Obviously, something is preventing him from understanding the command. Maybe he is stressed, has a problem with concentration, or he has noticed a colleague on the training ground and he does not think about learning, or maybe the command is too complicated at the moment. A dog is not a machine, it must have good working conditions and a relaxed caregiver to work and be successful ?
In addition to the obvious benefits of learning these simplest commands, we also strengthen the bond between us and the dog. If we devote time and attention to exercise to the dog, try to understand it and practice even the simplest tricks with it (such as "give your paw "), the dog appreciates it and is very happy.
Socialization with dogs
As you know, learning commands is not everything. Contact with other dogs is very important at this early stage of development.
Dogs are herd animals and need companions. If our dog does not have access to cool, balanced dogs who will teach him how to play, how to talk to each other (dogs' body language is very complex and smart), then in adulthood he may have problems communicating with them. He may become afraid of other dogs, withdraw, or even attack them out of fear.
But it also works the other way around. If a puppy dog is bullied by other dogs (and this is a time of particular sensitivity in development), when it grows up, dogs may have bad associations and serious behavioral problems will begin.
Therefore, it is very important that everything that happens in your puppy's life is positive!
Many things will happen to him for the first time in his life. That is why it is worth introducing dogs in controlled conditions under the watchful eye of a trainer or behaviorist.
I personally prefer smaller groups of puppies. If there are too many dogs in one place and still in a limited space, from which our dog cannot withdraw, chaos develops and stress can take away all the joy of playing together. It is also difficult then to observe each dog and intervene at the right moment when the play becomes too intense.
The same problem is often found in dog parks and runs. Our dog is chased by other dogs, or he doesn't like the fun at all and needs our support, but we assume that everything is fine because he is playing with many dogs. Meanwhile, dogs are gentle and complex creatures, so we should try to understand what they are saying to us.
But anyway, the role of having fun together cannot be overestimated. Dogs learn to interact, how far they can go in play, what things are allowed and what are objectionable. They also learn to feel, test their strength, improve motor skills and stimulate their development.
If at the beginning of their life they will deal with cool, balanced dogs that will teach them social life, then it will be much easier for them to find themselves in a group of dogs, communicate their needs and simply carelessly play.
Learning to relax
It would seem that you do not need to learn relaxation, the dog will go away on its bed or lie down on the grass and rest. But relaxation is something more, it is also about releasing the dog's buzzing emotions, lowering his excitement and occupying his head with an intellectual puzzle.
As a general rule of thumb, dogs should relax as follows:
- chewing (e.g. dried meat or rubber toys),
- biting (rumen, antlers and other treats, but tailored to the puppy),
- licking (licking e.g. from congo treats or pate),
- sniffing (searching for delicacies in the olfactory mat or grass),
- tearing (e.g. cardboard boxes),
- solving puzzles (interactive toys).
So if we want our pooch to feel good and have a balance between crazy fun and chasing buddies, and calm and calming relaxation, let's try to do the above-mentioned activities. In addition to relaxation, the dog will have the possibility of intellectual stimulation, which is extremely important at the stage of intense brain development.
Puppy instruction manual for the caregiver
In a good canine kindergarten, great emphasis is placed on the education of puppy caretakers. The more they know, the better they will be able to take care of the little one.
Many behavioral problems can result from good intentions, but without proper knowledge of how to lead the pooch, we can end up in a dead end. That is why knowledge and awareness of what is happening with our pooch is so important.
In general, the idea is to tell the owners in the simplest possible way what stage of development their dog is at, what they can do to develop it properly and how to work with the dog to prevent possible future problems.
In a word, we learn how to work with our pooch so that it makes sense and develops him in the right direction.
Rules and rules
The sooner we establish the rules of the house and our common psi-human world, the better.
The point is not to build a list of do's and don'ts so that the dog feels uncomfortable, but rather to indicate what behaviors are accepted (it is worth for the pooch to strengthen them by receiving a reward), and what behaviors we do not want in our life together.
But here again we have to be consistent.
If we don't want the dog to jump on our bed, but let it jump on the couch, it can be confusing for the dog. Not for everyone, but it happens.
Similarly, if at home the dog can jump on the sofa, but when he goes to the guests, he may not know why it is so, after all, the sofa has been allowed so far. When we greet the dog, we let it jump on us, but on a walk, when it jumps on a passer-by, we don't like it anymore and so on.
The common front of all family members is also important. If we make a rule in the house, such as not allowing the dog to jump on us, then we should all follow it, including our guests. A simple and consistent message is key here.
New surfaces, places, people and sounds
At the stage when the puppy is brave, it is worth expanding his world with new stimuli and experiences so that he will enter his adult life familiar with various things, thanks to which he will not be afraid of them in the future. Here, too, moderation is key.
During dog kindergarten a toddler can get to know new surfaces, on which he can run, he can meet various "strange " people, e.g. older people with walking sticks, or women with prams, or large, small, spotted and fluffy dogs. Maybe he will also be interested in the sound of water pouring into the bathtub or the rustling of a garbage bag or a strange hum of a vacuum cleaner.
But not everything at once.
We slowly get the puppy used to new things and as soon as we see that he is afraid or withdraws, we respect it and do not force him to further contact. Perhaps the next day he will approach the "monster " vacuum cleaner himself, or wag his tail at the Saint Bernard, who was too big for him today. And maybe he will even want to take a tram ride himself, or he will quickly look at the veterinary clinic where the nice doctor gave him a treat yesterday.
Let the dog decide, reward him for his courage and support him, this way he will see that the world can be a friendly place not to be afraid of.
Quarantine and dog kindergarten
Little is said about it, but the socialization window, when the pooch is receptive, often falls on the quarantine period.
You can enroll your pooch in a dog's kindergarten when he is immune, that is about 10-14 days after the second vaccination. Of course, you have to be careful under what conditions everything takes place, whether all dogs are healthy and whether we are not putting the toddler at risk, but the sooner we start learning, the better.
The socialization window lasts until about the 16th week and then the mind is really receptive, so let's not miss this time, and our puppy will certainly thank us in the future, as soon as he learns to speak ? he will thank!
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