Puppy Preschool – Behavioural Foundations

One of the key periods of time in a puppy’s life is from 8-16 weeks. This is the time when pups develop their social skills. Normally, these are taught by their parents and siblings and, in the wild, other members of the pack. Pups learn what is – and what isn’t – acceptable behaviour.

However, most pups are sold, and are in their new homes, at 6-8 weeks. Some puppies from the RSPCA have been rescued from very neglected backgrounds. Many families only have one dog at a time and so the pup is never taught those vital social skills. In today’s modern society, this means that no one is around to teach the pup what it needs to know to become a member of the family, and the result is a very confused dog and a family that is unsure if they want to keep him/her.

And this is where Puppy Preschool comes in. Just as pre-school teaches our children to interact and socialise before starting school, Puppy Preschool is all about teaching your pup some basic social behaviours – and teaching you how to maintain these skills at home.

To help puppies and their owners learn good habits for a lifetime of good behaviour, we offer Puppy Preschool Classes here at the West Toowoomba Vet Surgery with our nurses Bree and Brittney.

What does Puppy Preschool involve?

Our focus is on understanding how our dogs learn and using this understanding to prevent (or end) problem behaviours and to promote good behaviours. The West Toowoomba Vet Surgery has been conducting Puppy Preschool classes for over 15 years.

They use reward based training methods, with treats and lots of praise. You, the owners, are taught how dogs learn and how to use this understanding to prevent future behaviour problems and reinforce good behaviours through the use of operant conditioning to mould behaviour. Operant conditioning is a sound scientific method of behaviour change that involves the use of positive (or, to a lesser degree negative) consequences to reinforce (or discourage) behaviours. Properly applied, these methods will also establish a foundation of security, respect and trust. Positive reinforcement methods allow us to teach our puppies basic obedience commands (Come, Sit, Stay, etc.) as well as open the door to allow us to teach our dogs virtually anything else.

You will learn how to help your dog become calm, confident, obedient and cooperative. You will learn how to avoid accidentally teaching your dogs the wrong thing and you will learn how to make sure you are allowing your puppy to grow into a secure and peaceful dog, by avoiding instilling fears or rewarding aggression.

We love seeing our puppy preschool graduates. They have learnt early on that the vet is a fun place to be, so you don’t ever have the issue of the dog hating to come to the vets.  When you combine this with our Fear Free practice strategies, it means less stress on you and your pets when you visit.

Class Structure

There are 4 classes taught, which are conducted on consecutive Monday nights from 6.00pm till 7.00pm.

Each class has a similar format. After some ‘play-time’ with the pups, there is a discussion on various aspects of puppy behaviour, health issues and basic training. Each pup (& owner) then receives some individual time with the instructor to investigate individual behavioural problems and training. The class then finishes off with more ‘play-time’.

On the third week, we are lucky to have Kim Greaves, a D.O.T.A accredited dog trainer come to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your pup’s behaviour.

Who, When, Where, How Much?

These classes are just for puppies between 8 and 16 weeks of age. Our Puppy Preschool classes are open to any puppies who are current on their health requirements. You do not have to be a client of the West Toowoomba Vet Surgery to enrol in our Puppy Preschool.

Class Times: Tuesdays, 6:00-7:00 p.m. (please arrive between 5:50 – 6:00pm)

Class Location: West Toowoomba Vet Surgery, 357 West Street, Toowoomba, opposite Westridge Shopping centre. Parking is from Beh Street

Cost: Puppy Preschool costs $70 for the full course of 4 classes. Payment is required at the beginning of the class – unfortunately Eftpos and credit cards can’t be accepted on this occasion.

Requirements:

  • Recent veterinary exam with proof of vaccination (C5 vaccination required).
  • Your puppy must be free of fleas, ticks and other external parasites
  • Your puppy must be free of intestinal parasites as evidenced by meeting at least one of the following conditions:
  1. Your puppy has been wormed by a veterinarian, or a worm tablet provided by a veterinary surgery (many supermarket and pet shop worm tablets are simply ineffective); or
  2. Your puppy has had a “negative” faecal exam at a veterinarian within the last the month; or
  3. Your puppy is taking a monthly heartworm preventative (Advocate, Interceptor, Sentinel, Proheart, HeartGard or Revolution)

For Questions and Reservations

Bookings are essential. Note that there are limits to class size, and the age and size of the puppy that can be accommodated. Our staff can give you more information on this when you call.

Contact us if you need to check on your puppy’s vaccination status (or to schedule an appointment to update any needed services) or if you have any other questions or if you are ready to enrol. Call us 07 4636 2027.

All of the family is encouraged to attend where possible. Training doesn’t start and end on Monday nights – you will have some homework to do! By the end of the 4 classes, we expect that:

  • your pup will be a sociable and well-trained member of your family;
  • you will have a much better understanding of training, puppy behaviour and health issues affecting your pup; and
  • your pup will be a member of our ‘family’, and will drag you in through the front door on future visits to the Surgery.

We look forward to seeing you and your puppy at our Puppy Preschool in the near future.