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Discussion Starter #1
So I tried looking through the forum about info on finding training classes. I found some info on private trainers... is that a better way to go than classes? I'm assuming I won't be able to start puppy classes until the last parvo vaccine at around 16 weeks, or am I misunderstanding things. Would a private trainer be better at first? And if I want to find classes, what should I look for? Any places I should be searching? It all just seems overwhelming. Any advice is appreciated.
 

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Puppy classes typically just require them to have had one or two sets of vaccines so you should be able to start them very early. I would definitely go with a class rather than a private trainer. A puppy class is about socializing your puppy to different environments, different people, different sounds, and other puppies. It works much better if it's a class. I would personally look for local obedience and training clubs. They will either offer puppy classes or be able to direct you to the best local classes. I like working with a trainer that has trained dogs to compete in dog sports like agility or rally because I think they are particularly good at prepping dogs for later training success. Or one that offers classes intended to reach the goal of Canine Good Citizen achievements. These sorts of trainers have many years of experience. What I don't want is a chain type dog training business that has poorly qualified trainers that don't know what they're doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Puppy classes typically just require them to have had one or two sets of vaccines so you should be able to start them very early. I would definitely go with a class rather than a private trainer. A puppy class is about socializing your puppy to different environments, different people, different sounds, and other puppies. It works much better if it's a class. I would personally look for local obedience and training clubs. They will either offer puppy classes or be able to direct you to the best local classes. I like working with a trainer that has trained dogs to compete in dog sports like agility or rally because I think they are particularly good at prepping dogs for later training success. Or one that offers classes intended to reach the goal of Canine Good Citizen achievements. These sorts of trainers have many years of experience. What I don't want is a chain type dog training business that has poorly qualified trainers that don't know what they're doing.
Obedience and training clubs? Are they like businesses? Or non profits? I am not sure how I would even start looking for that?

[Edit, okay, I may have found something now, at least I think it's what you described.]

The local Petsmart has classes - no there. But aside from that I googled my local area, I found a few businesses, lots of people that will board for 2 weeks to train (not interested, I want to be an active participant and want to bond through training) and then individuals. And I have no clue how to evaluate, lol.

Good to know about the vaccines. The breeder will have the first 2 done by the time he gets home to me.
 

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Obedience and training clubs? Are they like businesses? Or non profits? I am not sure how I would even start looking for that?

The local Petsmart has classes - no there. But aside from that I googled my local area, I found a few businesses, lots of people that will board for 2 weeks to train (not interested, I want to be an active participant and want to bond through training) and then individuals. And I have no clue how to evaluate, lol.

Good to know about the vaccines. The breeder will have the first 2 done by the time he gets home to me.
The obedience clubs I know about are not profit based though they may offer classes for fees. They're often run by volunteers who do it for enjoyment because they compete with their dogs. The local club where I live organizes the Rally and Agility trials. I would do a search for your city and obedience clubs. If you live near a larger city there is likely a club local to you. For example in Miami we have the Miami Obedience Club. When I lived in Austin Texas there was the Capitol Dog Training Club of Austin. Orlando has the Orlando Dog Training Club. Some larger cities will have multiple clubs. At least in Miami, all the good trainers are fairly connected in a social network and they all compete and help to run the local sporting events.

I would avoid classes at places like pet stores or any chains. The puppy class I took Misha to was taught by an agility instructor who competes in the highest levels of agility. The obedience class he's been in was taught by a trainer who is an expert in Rally. When I'm working with a trainer like this I feel very reassured that they know what they're doing. Very different from somebody who just completed a 3-week training course for the job!

If you're in a very rural area it may be harder to find good resources and you may need to drive further. But even if you don't have a very local club you can always contact the nearest one and ask for a referral closer to you.
 

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Do you have a community website or Facebook groups? I found our trainer through rave reviews on Nextdoor. We did an initial consultation and loved how she interacted with us and Peggy. From that consultation, she matched us to an appropriate puppy socialization class, which she ran with the help of her assistant (a retired vet tech).

Peggy was about 12 weeks old.

There were maybe half a dozen puppies, all similar ages and all on the same vaccination schedule. We did basic obedience, positive exposure to common "scary things" (like funny hats, an examination table, vacuuming, etc.), lots of relaxing time, and a free play period at the end of each class, with the duration carefully tailored to the puppies' age. (It's amazing how much they change from week to week.)

During the play period, the owners were encouraged to stay very engaged so we could learn the signs of "good" play vs. bullying, over-tired puppies, etc. We regularly interrupted to let them settle and then rejoin the fun. It was such a valuable experience and I'm glad I did it with my husband so we were on the same page. If there's anyone else in your household, see if you can convince them to attend at least a class or two.

When choosing a trainer, I recommend looking for someone who specializes in positive reenforcement. Ours is certified by the Karen Pryor Academy:


She also regularly does behaviour consultations for our local animal shelters, so that's somewhere you could ask for suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The obedience clubs I know about are not profit based though they may offer classes for fees. They're often run by volunteers who do it for enjoyment because they compete with their dogs. The local club where I live organizes the Rally and Agility trials. I would do a search for your city and obedience clubs. If you live near a larger city there is likely a club local to you. For example in Miami we have the Miami Obedience Club. When I lived in Austin Texas there was the Capitol Dog Training Club of Austin. Orlando has the Orlando Dog Training Club. Some larger cities will have multiple clubs. At least in Miami, all the good trainers are fairly connected in a social network and they all compete and help to run the local sporting events.

I would avoid classes at places like pet stores or any chains. The puppy class I took Misha to was taught by an agility instructor who competes in the highest levels of agility. The obedience class he's been in was taught by a trainer who is an expert in Rally. When I'm working with a trainer like this I feel very reassured that they know what they're doing. Very different from somebody who just completed a 3-week training course for the job!

If you're in a very rural area it may be harder to find good resources and you may need to drive further. But even if you don't have a very local club you can always contact the nearest one and ask for a referral closer to you.
I found the Obedience Training Club of Palm Beach County. Seems to be the closest one to me. So I think I'll try with them, thanks so much for your advice! If you have any other South Florida tips on poodles or dog stuff/events down here, let me know. I live in PBC but can drive down (even to Miami, though I hate the traffic), if needed.
 

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Do you have a community website or Facebook groups? I found our trainer through rave reviews on Nextdoor. We did an initial consultation and loved how she interacted with us and Peggy. From that consultation, she matched us to an appropriate puppy socialization class, which she ran with the help of her assistant (a retired vet tech).

Peggy was about 12 weeks old.

There were maybe half a dozen puppies, all similar ages and all on the same vaccination schedule. We did basic obedience, positive exposure to common "scary things" (like funny hats, an examination table, vacuuming, etc.), lots of relaxing time, and a free play period at the end of each class, with the duration carefully tailored to the puppies' age. (It's amazing how much they change from week to week.)

During the play period, the owners were encouraged to stay very engaged so we could learn the signs of "good" play vs. bullying, over-tired puppies, etc. We regularly interrupted to let them settle and then rejoin the fun. It was such a valuable experience and I'm glad I did it with my husband so we were on the same page. If there's anyone else in your household, see if you can convince them to attend at least a class or two.

When choosing a trainer, I recommend looking for someone who specializes in positive reenforcement. Ours is certified by the Karen Pryor Academy:


She also regularly does behaviour consultations for our local animal shelters, so that's somewhere you could ask for suggestions.
That sounds like an amazing class, would love to take it! I'll see what I can find through Facebook. I kind of abandoned it but it's maybe time to return.

And, yeah, I've been looking for positive re-enforcement specifically too. Thanks for the advice, it helps me order my thoughts on this. I think having all this time to anticipate the puppy is going to drive me bit crazy.
 

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That sounds like an amazing class, would love to take it! I'll see what I can find through Facebook. I kind of abandoned it but it's maybe time to return.

And, yeah, I've been looking for positive re-enforcement specifically too. Thanks for the advice, it helps me order my thoughts on this. I think having all this time to anticipate the puppy is going to drive me bit crazy.
For puppy classes specifically (especially with covid!) it's good to be prepared. That socialization window is small and precious.

If you've not already, give this book a read:

Also available online for free:



It'll really help structure your prep and channel that excited energy. :)
 

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I found the Obedience Training Club of Palm Beach County. Seems to be the closest one to me. So I think I'll try with them, thanks so much for your advice! If you have any other South Florida tips on poodles or dog stuff/events down here, let me know. I live in PBC but can drive down (even to Miami, though I hate the traffic), if needed.
Awesome! Didn't realize you were so close! I'll let you know next time there's an agility event down in Miami. They're usually every 3-4 months but obviously nothing since covid. I always try to go though I don't know when Misha will be ready to start competing.
 

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Raindrops, would you call it a red flag if a website pronounces "In just 2 weeks...." or "we guarantee..." ?
 

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Rose n Poos I will answer the question that you asked Raindrops and of course she can too. Yes it would be a red flag to me. No one can guarantee a specific result about training in a short window of time and to do so seems foolish in the extreme to me. Yelp has power. FB has power....

OP I am really glad you found a club that you can get to with your pup. I am not in FL and therefore am not familiar with area clubs, but obedience clubs everywhere are generally not for profit and sanctioned by the AKC. It may be that some instructors are not super terrific, but they generally have a lot of experience. I teach at an AKC sanctioned club and think all of my friends who also teach there are good even if one or two of them are a bit old fashioned. We all have shown dogs to obedience and other titles.

I also have to say that while you should be careful in choosing, going to a pet store is better than going nowhere. It happened to be more convenient to go to a store class for puppy K with Lily and Peeves. Because the instructor was really good we stuck with her for an intermediate class too. Then we were able to get into a CGC class at a good time/day for a CGC class at the club I now teach at.
 

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I also have to say that while you should be careful in choosing, going to a pet store is better than going nowhere. It happened to be more convenient to go to a store class for puppy K with Lily and Peeves. Because the instructor was really good we stuck with her for an intermediate class too. Then we were able to get into a CGC class at a good time/day for a CGC class at the club I now teach at.
Good reminder that there can be good (and bad!) trainers anywhere. Our neighbours have a beautifully trained dog who works with his owner in rehabilitation centres for the elderly. He, too, got his start at a pet store class.

The key, though, is that his owner was dog savvy to begin with. It's harder to spot a poor class when you're new to puppy ownership. But I suppose that's where we can help out! Prior research and following your gut are also important.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
For puppy classes specifically (especially with covid!) it's good to be prepared. That socialization window is small and precious.

If you've not already, give this book a read:

Also available online for free:



It'll really help structure your prep and channel that excited energy. :)
That is awesome! I am going to read that right away. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Awesome! Didn't realize you were so close! I'll let you know next time there's an agility event down in Miami. They're usually every 3-4 months but obviously nothing since covid. I always try to go though I don't know when Misha will be ready to start competing.
I would love to see an event like that, sounds like so much fun! Thanks!

Pup is not coming home until early Nov. But if you were up for any park playdates (once Fenris has his shots), I would love for him to have local-ish poodle friends.
 

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Rose n Poos I will answer the question that you asked Raindrops and of course she can too. Yes it would be a red flag to me. No one can guarantee a specific result about training in a short window of time and to do so seems foolish in the extreme to me. Yelp has power. FB has power....

OP I am really glad you found a club that you can get to with your pup. I am not in FL and therefore am not familiar with area clubs, but obedience clubs everywhere are generally not for profit and sanctioned by the AKC. It may be that some instructors are not super terrific, but they generally have a lot of experience. I teach at an AKC sanctioned club and think all of my friends who also teach there are good even if one or two of them are a bit old fashioned. We all have shown dogs to obedience and other titles.

I also have to say that while you should be careful in choosing, going to a pet store is better than going nowhere. It happened to be more convenient to go to a store class for puppy K with Lily and Peeves. Because the instructor was really good we stuck with her for an intermediate class too. Then we were able to get into a CGC class at a good time/day for a CGC class at the club I now teach at.
Thanks! I just don't trust my assessment of what is good or bad training, or what it looks like. I've watched a ton of YouTube videos and it's hilarious just how many "professional trainers" on there will say contradictory stuff. I'm more of a visual learner, which is why I turned to YouTube first rather than books, since it's easier to understand someone when I see it.
 

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You'll get pretty consistent recommendations here for positive reinforcement training methods.
Names that come up frequently are Ian Dunbar, Zak George, Kikopup, Susan Garrett, to name a few.
There's certifications to look for also, the titles and acronyms escape me for the moment.
Poodles are sensitive dogs who generally learn quickly. An instructor with poodle experience is a help.
 

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Kikopup, Spirit Dog, and Zak George are all online trainers I trust. Zak's got a good YouTube series called "The Dog Training Experience," which documents life with his puppy Inertia. It was really great following along as I navigated Peggy's first year:


The one thing I caution about videos, though, is they often miss a lot of the nuance of training, and they tend to make it all look a little too easy. A written guide and in-person trainer fill those gaps.
 

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Peggy look for people who are members of APDT and are CPDT-KA certified among others like Karen Pryor clicker trainer certified folks, like Click.
 
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