Disclosure: As a Best Friends Ambassador, I was invited to participate in a media tour at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Best Friends Animal Society is not responsible for the content.
Spending time at Puppy Preschool in Best Friends Animal Sanctuary was everything you think it would be. Crazy cute puppies, awesome caregivers, and so much good information that there is no way I could retain even half of it.
One of the things my visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary made me realize is that to Save Them All, we need to influence the way people think about dog training.
Anyone who regularly reads my blog already loves dogs, and probably knows more about training dogs than I do. However, that doesn’t mean your neighbor does, or your old college roommate does. So I am asking you to take what you know and share it. If more people knew the proper way to train a puppy, fewer dogs would be surrendered to shelters for behavior issues.
This is what I learned at Puppy Preschool from one of the caregivers, Glenn.
From Best Friends Animal Society: “Relationship Based Training is a method of training that uses the cooperative relationship between the trainer and the animal to achieve mutually beneficial results, while at the same time enhancing and strengthening their relationship.”
This makes sense to me, but a lot of animal lovers were taught to use physical force and punishment to train their dogs. They may love their pets, but they may not know a better way. The advice we received with our first dog, may not be the best advice.
Socialize Your Puppy
Once your puppy has had his or her shots, it is okay to let her meet the world. The first few months are critical for a puppy’s development and experiencing different sounds, sights, as well as meeting all kinds of people and animals, will help your dog grow up to be confident and secure.
Puppies are a lot of work. Glen stressed that our job for the puppy preschool was the most important job of all. We were teaching them that strangers are okay. Glen explained to us that the pups at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary are introduced to a diverse population so that the dogs aren’t fearful of strangers when they go into the real world. He explained the importance of seeing people in hats, glasses, hoodies, and wheelchairs. His statement reminded me of how our Bullmastiff hated hats. She would bark fiercely at my dad until he took off his hat and she recognized him as her favorite person in the world.
A fearful dog is often a reactive dog, so teach your pup that the world is a safe place to be.
After Glenn gave us the basics, they brought out eight more puppies from the same litter, and it was joyous mayhem! Most of us were gushing and giggling as these cuties made the rounds! And I’m sorry to say that the rest of the information that Glenn shared with us didn’t make it to my brain. But, can you blame me?
Pima was fascinated by her reflection, and if I was that cute, I probably would be too.
These puppies lived in a foster home until they were old enough to come to Best Friends. Thanks to their foster, they were confident and curious.
Wigwam even stepped on the skateboard. Glen told us that he has worked with puppies who were so fearful, they just cowered under the table. With relationship based training, patience, and time, those puppies can develop confidence.
In addition to bringing out lots of household items, puppy preschool also exposes the puppies to different sounds. The first time Glen rang the doorbell, I expected some barking, but they were completely oblivious to the noise.
It is critical that young dogs get the opportunity to socialize and explore before they are four months old.
We were able to take the puppies outside for their first walk which was the most chaotic quarter mile ever.
We had to give up all sense of personal space to untangle the web of leashes several times.
After their exciting morning, the puppies needed a nap.
Which gave us time to meet some of the other puppies! At Best Friends, every litter of puppies is given names from the same theme. The “bone puppies” are adorable!
Ash is a dwarf Yellow Lab and her breeder considered putting her down for her “genetic defect.” She is adorable and in my opinion, even cuter than a regular lab. Think Yellow Lab head and body with Basset Hound legs and feet!
Adopt These Puppies
If you decide that you are ready to take on a puppy, please consider adopting one. If you want to purchase a purebred, invest the time and effort to find an ethical breeder. The mother of your puppy deserves better than to live in a puppy mill. And your puppy will be much healthier physically and emotionally.
What advice would you give to someone with a new puppy?