When you get a very young puppy, chances are you’ll need to train them to get comfortable with humans and other pets. They aren’t yet used to the dynamics of being a pet and all the actions that go with it, like being petted and being trained for home life. All of these can be stressful if not properly addressed.
New research shows that bringing your young pup to a puppy training class even once a week will help alleviate feelings of fear or aggression that they may have in their new environment. Lead researcher Dr. Angela Gonzales-Martinez of the Santiago de Compostela University explored the benefits of puppy training in 80 pups.
They found that puppies who went through a six-week class coped better when interacting with strangers, became more behaved, and felt less stressed in general. Usually, experts recommend doing socialization training when your pup is around four months old.
“Attending puppy class may be important for social exposure with other puppies and people, which could have an association with the dog’s long-term behavior,” says Dr. Gonzales-Martines in an interview.
Puppy socialization also benefits owners because puppies are taught to become more docile and less agitated. Socialization programs aim to expose puppies to strangers with different clothing, for example. This is beneficial when you have guests coming over.
A pup needs to get used to their environment as they grow. Training makes them feel at ease in their new home and prevents them from being too jumpy or fearful. Like people, dogs need a balance of exploration and caution in their lives to healthily go through each day.
Puppies also learn to interact with other dogs as part of their socialization training. You may want to think of puppy training classes as a more intensive and learning-inclined trip to the dog park. Puppies get to interact with other pups and practice social skills.
Socialization programs also tend to increase obedience in dogs, which benefits owners when their dogs grow up. This is because pups who undergo training classes tend to score better in command responses.
A previous study of dogs in Japan gave some evidence of this. Researchers found that attending puppy classes made dogs more receptive to commands from their owners.
A key takeaway is that this command trainability may be more beneficial when starting young. Adult dogs who attended command classes did fairly well on obedience training, but their socialization was less successful.
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