My puppy is 5 months old. Which class should I take?

Most puppies that are under 5 months on the day the class starts should be registered for Puppy Playskool. Toy breeds may join our Puppy Playschool at an older age and large and guarding breeds should be no older than 4 months for Puppy class. Please contact us if you have any questions concerning this. Most dogs over 5 months on the class start date should be registered for Companion Rookie.

Vaccinations vs Early Socialization

Most young puppies aren’t fully protected against the diseases we vaccinated them for until they’ve had all of their puppy shots. This is mainly because the antibodies they get from their mother can interfere with the ability of the vaccine to have its full effect. Even though puppies’ immune systems are still developing during their early months, if we wait until a puppy has all of his shots before socializing him, we miss our chance to do it. He’ll simply be too old. The good news is that if you take some commonsense precautions while socializing your puppy, the risk of infection is quite small compared to the much larger risk of your puppy developing serious behavior problems with fear and aggression later in life.

Veterinarians specializing in behavior recom­mend that owners take advantage of every opportunity to socialize young puppies in environments like puppy classes, where the risk of illness can be minimized. They state that:

“Puppy socialization classes offer a safe and organized means of socializing puppies. Each puppy should have up-to-date vaccinations and be disease and parasite free before entering the class. Where possible, classes should be held on surfaces that are easily cleaned and disinfected (e.g., indoor environments). Visits to dog parks or other areas that aren’t sanitized or are highly trafficked by dogs of unknown vaccination or disease status should be avoided.”

The experts now agree that the risk of a puppy being given up or later euthanized for behavior problems is so huge that young puppies must be socialized before they are done with their vaccinations. The recommendation is to socialize puppies as safely as possible by exposing the puppy to people, places and other animals while not taking unnecessary risks. Well-run puppy classes—indoor classes where all the puppies have been vaccinated at least once—are a safe and smart way to socialize a puppy.

“In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7 to 8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vac­cines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first deworming. They should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class.”

“The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.”

Other Safe Ways to Safely Socialize a Puppy Who Is Not Fully Vaccinated

• Drive to a busy mall and hang out with your pup on a mat at the entrance. Strangers will flock to you because they will want to pet your puppy and they’ll willingly feed him the treats that you’ve brought with you.
• Host a puppy party! Invite friends and family over, play some music, toss some streamers, and pass your pup around.
• Bring your puppy to indoor Scouts meetings. Supervise the children interacting with him to make sure he’s not frightened by them and they’re being gentle.
• Take your pup on car rides through different neighborhoods, drive-throughs, car washes, and out into the country where he’ll see and smell a variety of farm animals.
• Arrange play sessions with other puppies and adult dogs who you know are healthy and friendly.
• If your puppy is small enough, carry him around town and let strangers pet him and give him treats.

I would like to register but do not want to use my credit card online. Can I pay for my course by cheque or cash?

If you’d like to pay by cheque, print this registration form and mail it to the address on the form with your payment to reserve your spot in class. Please note that post-dated cheques are not accepted. For cash payments, you must contact the centre to make arrangements to meet with someone in person. There is also the option of giving us your credit card number over the phone if you prefer. In all cases, your spot in the class will only be reserved once payment has been received.

What is your policy on refunds?

When you sign up for a class, you have purchased that space. No one else can use it. If you drop out, that space stays empty. We have no refunds after registration.

My dog is an adult and has had no previous training. Is he too old for training? If not, what class should we take?

Your dog is not too old to start training. We have a lot of rescue dogs in our classes and they all benefit from obedience training. it’s never too late too start. An older dog should be registered for the Companion Rookie class.

Are private lessons available?

Private consultations are available on a limited basis for behavior problems and all other dog-related issues such as selecting the right breed for your family. The cost is $100 for the first hour and $85 for subsequent hours. If you are a student at Blue Ribbon, the cost is $75 per hour. These can be done at our centre in Dorval or in your home if you live within a reasonable driving distance. In-home visits will incur a minimum $10 travel fee. Please contact us for more information.

Can the whole family come to class? Can everyone train the dog?

We welcome all members of the family to come observe, ask questions and practice the homework. However, it is best to have one handler working with the dog in class during an 8-week session. If you choose to continue your training, another member of the family may handle the dog in class for that session. Very young children are welcome if they can sit still and not disturb the class.

Can a child handle the dog in class?

While children may be old enough to learn, we feel that they are too young to teach. We have a required age of 18 years for participation in the classes. This will make it easier for your dog to learn the basic skills. A child may come observe the class and can practice at home under the supervision of an adult.

Blue Ribbon Canine Centre