Did you have the bad puppy at class?
I’ve been there! Lots of people have been there! Puppy class is hard!
It can be so stressful and embarrassing to have a dog who can’t handle a class environment.
So let’s talk about it!
The first thing I want to say is that it is not uncommon for baby puppies to struggle in a class environment. Ideally, a class should be designed for you to learn how to teach your dog, not your dog to learn new skills. Puppy class is one of the hardest environments for dogs to learn in! And when we have two new learners together (you and your puppy), it’s even harder.
Some puppies struggle in a group class scenario, be it because they are frightened, overwhelmed or just plain too excited!
(and sometimes we human learners struggle in a really busy puppy class too! I know I do!)
If your puppy is not taking treats, flailing on the end of the leash, cowering under a chair or barking incessantly, they cannot be expected to learn! Remember, they are babies and they need us to step in when they are overwhelmed. If your instructor doesn’t step in to help you, ask them. “I think my puppy is really struggling right now, are there ways we can make this easier for her?”
If your concerns are simply dismissed, or if the instructor suggests using corrections or punishment with your puppy, get you things and leave.
Puppies are impressionable, and one bad experience can be impactful.
There are lots of ways we can make puppy class easier, but also some puppies thrive better with private training and more mindful socialization outside of a group class setting! There is no one size fit’s all.
Above all, do not feel discouraged if your puppy is “the bad puppy”. I have seen so many problem puppies turn into wonderful adults with patience and good training.
If someone is making you feel less than because your puppy is struggling, ignore them, find someone who will help without judgement. Your puppy is not bad. You are not bad. You have not failed.
Ask for help when you need it, and keep supporting your puppy!