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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I stopped by a local dog training business this morning to ask about puppy Kindergarten classes. The classes were once/week for 8 weeks, and cost $225 total (cheap, IMO). The 1st class is no dogs, orientation and homework assignments only.
How valuable is this class? How soon should I get my dog into this class? If I sign up now, I can start him/her at 9 weeks (1st available class is around 4/30).
 

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The value of puppy classes can vary tremendously, but I like that this one starts by training the humans. I think that’s a great sign.

As far as start date goes, I suggest giving your pup at least a week to decompress after you bring him or her home. Peggy started puppy class right around 12 weeks. I wish it had been a little sooner, but it turned out so well, I can’t really complain.
 

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While not all puppy classes have a no-dog first class, some do. It's easier to talk to the owners without the distraction of the puppies. The trainer will discuss goals of the class, procedures, where dogs potty etc. There may be paperwork to be filled out. When you arrive to the second class you'll be prepared to focus on your puppy.

As to when to start your puppy, each training facility may have different rules. Some want puppies to have their second set of puppy immunizations, other's may have a certain age range. Contact the facility before signing up.

Check out any dog training clubs that train dogs for dog sports - such as AKC clubs or non-AKC clubs. Usually people who train in dog sports want quality puppy classes for their own dogs. The prices tend to be more reasonable than private training clubs. The problem is many of these classes are full and hard to get into.
 

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Something else to consider are the trainer’s qualifications. Ours is very active in dog sports (both competing and judging), and is also certified by the Karen Pryor Academy. She’s been a fabulous resource.
 

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If at all possible I would want to observe one of the trainer's classes before signing up - that way you get a better feel for the methods used, and how empathetic they are to both dogs and humans.
 
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I find training classes to be invaluable. I train on my own, but it helps so much to get feedback from someone with more experience. And Normie and I both enjoy the social interactions.
 

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I think it’s invaluable for both the owner and the dog to take several obedience classes starting with the puppy class and ending with the class that prepares the dog for Therapy Dog testing. Even if you have no intention of doing therapy work (visiting nursing homes, participating in helping children read etc) the skills you and your dog learn are invaluable for to have a well behaved dog both at home and in public. Look for a place that offers these levels of classes
 

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Yes to observing a class before you pay is great if you can do it. If they don't allow an observer then a grain of salt might be in order. Certified trainers with CPDT-KA or KPA certifications are generally excellent so I would worry less about an observation if the instructor for the class has at least one of those certifications. I would take your pup as soon as you can. At my club we welcome puppies as young as 8 weeks.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
At my club we welcome puppies as young as 8 weeks.
Thanks lily_cd_re
Ian Dunbar's book says no sooner than 12 weeks, no later than 18 weeks for puppy Kindergarten. Small breed dogs sooner, large breeds best at 4 months. He doesn't get into the vaccine schedule at all. Vaccinations are at 8, 12, and 16 weeks, so at 4 mo. they're fully vaccinated. The training org. I checked with said OK to start at 8 weeks too. How does vaccination status fit into the decision, if at all.
Coincidentally, the facility I checked out (Tails-U-Win) was the one my breeder recommended to me during today's puppy visit. She uses them for her dogs and highly recommends them.
I see no mention of training credentials other than "We have various AKC CGC Evaluators staffed at our facility."
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Today's puppy visit! This is me with 'Astro'. The only white male of both litters. I won't know which one is mine until after 7 weeks when she does the temperament test. She is also going to evaluate which one is best for 'show' @ 8 weeks, and keep that one for herself. So realistically, I won't know for sure until just a few days before I get him. I'll be happy with any of them! She says she know best how to match puppies to owners needs. I trust her on this.
 

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The training org. I checked with said OK to start at 8 weeks too. How does vaccination status fit into the decision, if at all.
One of the rescues near me runs a puppy kindergarten and explains their reasoning for 8 weeks. They are balancing two sets of risks and choosing the least likely. On the one hand, unvaccinated puppies are vulnerable to diseases. On the other, a lot of adolescent dogs end up in shelters due to behavioral problems their overwhelmed owners can't manage. In the Northeast a dog stands a higher chance of dying from euthanasia due to behavioral issues than dying from distemper or parvo. (Yay for herd immunity among vaccinated adult dogs.) A rescue is responsible both for placing puppies in new homes and dealing with the mess if the puppies don't work out. Therefore, this rescue tries to get puppies and owners into training as early as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
One of the rescues near me runs a puppy kindergarten and explains their reasoning for 8 weeks. They are balancing two sets of risks and choosing the least likely. On the one hand, unvaccinated puppies are vulnerable to diseases. On the other, a lot of adolescent dogs end up in shelters due to behavioral problems their overwhelmed owners can't manage. In the Northeast a dog stands a higher chance of dying from euthanasia due to behavioral issues than dying from distemper or parvo. (Yay for herd immunity among vaccinated adult dogs.) A rescue is responsible both for placing puppies in new homes and dealing with the mess if the puppies don't work out. Therefore, this rescue tries to get puppies and owners into training as early as possible.
That makes perfect sense to me. Every risk carries a weight to be measured against.
 
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