We do things a little differently here at AbiK9, particularly when it comes to puppy raising. Our classes are twice as long as most others, are run by an experienced dog trainer, prioritize the puppy-owner relationship, and aim to build a confident and resilient puppy.
We want your puppy to see you as the center of their world. Other people, dogs, and anything else that’s stereotypically ‘distracting’ are, while safe, nowhere near as exciting as you. Our aim is to provide socially ‘neutral’ dogs.
Run for 8 weeks
Are available for puppies from 10 weeks of age (MUST have had their second vacc.)
Are conducted at Alstonvale (20 minutes from Ballina and Lismore)
Are rewards-based, with an emphasis on foundation play and training skills of the owner
In the world of puppy classes, most trainers are prioritizing puppy play as a means of ‘socialization’. If you’ve read any of my blog/social media posts, you’ll know why this is a big problem. If not, let me summarize;
If you get your puppy at 8 weeks old and it was part of a litter, your puppy knows how to play. If you then continue in efforts of ‘socialization’ that feature in large part more puppy play, you are going to have problems. By far the biggest reason for owners contacting me for behavioural modification or help with general obedience, is due to too much puppy/puppy or puppy/dog play during the socialization and juvenile periods. These dogs are raised to be ‘doggy dogs’ that have an insane amount of value in other dogs and comparatively little in their own humans. For the genetically gregarious, this manifests itself as zero control around other dogs and frustration-based reactivity. For the genetically aloof or socially sensitive, the problem can manifest in a similar fashion but be anxiety/fear-based and often culminates into aggression.
What’s sad is that the very things that were supposed to prevent these issues (puppy classes), are actually causing them. A big part of this issue is not just with the way puppy classes are normally run, but by misconceptions about what a dog needs to make them happy.
Over the last 20-odd years, owners have been led to believe that dogs need doggy friends. They need to go to dog parks, to handle random dogs invading their personal space, and to modify their play style according to the dog in front of them. For a lot of breeds, this goes against decades of selective breeding. MOST dogs are bred to be the companions and partners of people. The proximity and presence of other dogs was merely to be tolerated, not celebrated.
Nowadays, we’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. And when our dog leaves the social, happy juvenile period and hits adolescence, we start seeing problems. Owners are advised to ‘fix’ those problems by doing more of the thing that caused them; go to dog parks! Find more doggy friends! The dog needs MORE socialization!
Unfortunately, this misconception is further exasperated by the fact that the minority of dogs (it’s estimated to be about 10%) that are truly ‘social’ and able to integrate themselves with grace into any social situation are also the most seen. So, society deems them as ‘normal’, when in fact they are the exception to the rule.
This is a very well-known phenomenon in sport and working dog circles. The concept of stereotypical ‘dog socialization’ is not prioritized and is generally an incidental part of the larger socialization picture. The aim is to produce neutral dogs that don’t have much value in other dogs, but that are capable of ‘speaking dog’ if needed. And guess what!? These dogs are the happiest, most fulfilled dogs in the world because their owners/handlers truly understand what they need – and it isn’t to be friends with every dog they meet.
That’s what I want for all my puppy owners. To truly know their puppy, what makes them happy, how to meet their needs and ensure their puppy meets theirs too.