If you saw my social media posts yesterday, you already know that I'm gearing up to start a round of "Pandemic Puppy Socialization Classes" in November at Club K-9. I'm thrilled to be able to do this and Club K-9 is the perfect location. Classes can be held outdoors in a very large, fully fenced, pristinely maintained space. By keeping class size to six puppies total, I can ensure that I am able to give each puppy individual attention and answer questions as they come up. I will be limiting the humans in attendance to one human per puppy. While I have always enjoyed having families come to puppy classes, this time around, keeping everyone safe is my top priority. All human participants will be signing a COVID-19 waiver indicating that they and all family members are free of symptoms and have not been exposed to anyone with the virus prior to beginning the class. All of the puppies attending the class will have had a minimum of two DA2PP vaccines and the Bordetella vaccine. We will be requiring that all human participants wear masks during class and hand sanitizer will be available before entering the training space and all humans must remain at least six feet apart during class. The big question on everyone's mind, though, seems to be, what can you still do in a puppy class during a pandemic? So, here's my plan:
As I've always done when I teach puppy classes, the emphasis will be on supervised socialization opportunities, combined with basic behavior training. I like to approach any class I teach as a learning opportunity for people to understand more about animal behavior, dog body language, and play behavior, so class attendees can expect that. While I will certainly be talking about crate training, house training, basic leash manners, etc., I think puppy owners need an overview of fear stages, how to address boredom, and how to help their puppies be independent during a time when most of us are home all the time and never leaving our dogs alone. I truly think that will be one of the most important takeaways from this pandemic puppies class--the importance of having these puppies be able to be happy when they are alone; not anxious, destructive, or bored.
Because these classes will be small, there will be ample opportunity to get questions answered and determine who might need additional help outside the class environment. In addition, there will likely be some puppies in class who can benefit from doggie daycare at some point in time when their humans return to work, and Club K-9 has a wonderful daycare program geared toward puppies and adolescent dogs.
The bottom line is this: While I've been able to work one-on-one with a number of new puppy owners during this pandemic, doing so isn't something that can or does work for every puppy out there. Some owners just prefer classes and I felt it was time to try to teach one and see how successful it can be, despite the obvious limitations due to COVID-19. Obviously, puppies and their owners can't wait until this is all over to socialize, learn, and grow. It just means that folks like myself and the staff at Club K-9 just need to get a bit more creative.
If you are interested in puppy classes, please let me know asap and I'll get you onto the list for the November class. As always, if you have questions about your pet's behavior, you know where to find me.
Looking forward to cuties like this in my puppy class!