What is Puppy School?

In the past 10 years the concept of puppy school (sometimes referred to as puppy socialising) has gained more and more recognition. While this is super news for puppies and puppy owners, it has also opened a door for many unqualified trainers to jump on the bandwagon.

During the socialisation phase the potential for imprinting of bad experiences is just as high as the potential for good experiences. A poorly run puppy school can have disastrous consequences and can leave the puppy owner with a problematic dog in the years to come.

The puppy owner is thus strongly advised to select a puppy school carefully. In this vein we have put this article together to let you know what you should expect from puppy school...

Puppy school is a place and time, where you and your pup are educated. Your pup learns to be a well mannered, socially acceptable animal - a companion that enhances your life.

Puppy school is not a place where pups of any age indulge in wild unsupervised/unstructured play, or are taught formal obedience training - that is only appropriate for a more mature dog.

The Venue

  • Secure area for pups to have free safe work and play
  • A large enough area for pups to play, but small enough for pups to feel secure
  • Area should preferably be grassed, which creates a calming atmosphere)
  • There should be shade/fresh water easily accessible


All the family should be welcome (as should spectators) as long as they are well behaved.

What owners should bring to class

  • A flat soft collar and soft leash - choke chains should not be used on puppies as a matter of routine
  • Small "Fast Motivational Foods" highly palatable and easy to digest
  • Bowl for water & plastic packets to "scoop the poop"
  • Toys is required
  • Current inoculation/vaccination certificate

The School/Instructor should provide/offer

  • Enrolment form which should state all relevant details of the pup i.e. inoculations/vaccinations and make reference to the owners goals and expectations for the pup's future.
  • Easily accessible water
  • Rubbish bin
  • First aid kit
  • Booklets/literature/hand outs, on all relevant problems, from grooming and puppy care, to common behaviour problems experienced by puppy owners
  • Referral to retail outlets for equipment, such as leads/collars/headcollars/toys and other basic doggie necessities such as grooming equipment etc
  • Basis distraction/desensitisation equipment i.e.: umbrella's bicycles, sacks, people in strange coats, i.e. things that pups should be exposed to during their every day life.
  • Various noises to expose pups to, either on tape or other simulation: i.e. small firecrackers, tapes of gunshot/storms or other "different" noises.
  • Some everyday type physical obstacles to manoeuvre around - i.e. steps, gates, drums, tyres, poles, ramps etc.
  • Exposure to other animals - i.e. livestock, cats, fowls, horses, etc.
  • Access to a safe "puppy friendly older dog" (role model.)

Minimum requirements of Instructor

  • Knowledge of puppy development calendar and "critical stages" of canine development.
  • Knowledge of breeds, and their particular characteristics, development, purpose and genetics.
  • Knowledge of puppy health, care, hygiene and housing.
  • Behavioural and training knowledge
  • Good communication skills with people
  • Excellent canine handling skills
  • Experience in various disciplines of the dog sports
  • An open mind

Learning Methods

  • All learning should be fun and enjoyable for both pups and owners
  • Only kind, gentle and humane methods should be used
  • Positive reinforcement is the generally accepted way of modern training, of both puppies and dogs.
  • No heavy handed methods are acceptable

Criteria of Group/Class

  • History and record keeping is essential
  • Requirements and purpose/aims of course
  • Achievements and objectives and test
  • Duration of course
  • Weekly programme hand outs
  • Maximum of 6 puppies per facilitator/instructor

Care should be taken that the correct choice of puppy school is made. This is after all where your puppy's entire future character is to be moulded. You can even ask for a couple of references from previous puppy owners. Should you as the concerned puppy owner have any doubts or misgivings regarding a class trust your instincts and leave.

We have a listing of puppy schools on this website. Click here to view them.

Should you experience any problems or have any complaints regarding the puppy schools listed, please contact the ABC Secretary.



Behaviour Tip

When a dog is presented for behaviour problems to a veterinary ethologist or accredited animal behaviourist it will usually have multiple disorders...

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Puppy school is place where you and your puppy are educated.