Best Friends Animal Sanctuary: Puppy Preschool

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.

Use Relationship Based Training.

man holding hound mix puppy

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.

puppy investigating big camera, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

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?  

Puppies exploring Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, puppy preschoolPuppy admiring self in mirror, Best Friends Animal SanctuaryPima was fascinated by her reflection, and if I was that cute, I probably would be too. 

Hound mix puppies Best Friends Animal SanctuaryThese 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. 

adoptable puppy sniffing skateboard

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.  

puppies first walk at Best Friends Animal SanctuaryWe 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.

Piles of sleeping puppies Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

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!

Adoptable puppy Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Puppy Preschool,#SaveThemAll

adoptable puppies

Patella and Ulna are still looking for their forever homes.  (Adoption photos courtesy of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.)

Adoptable dwarf yellow Labrador RetrieverAsh 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

To adopt any of these dogs complete a Best Friends Dog Adoption Survey.  Fantastic puppies can be found in your local shelter or by looking on Petfinder.

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?



nichole says:

OMD – they are all so stinking cute, but… ASH. Oh my… I’m in love!

Kelly says:

Time and plenty of patience are needed with puppies! They require a lot of attention. The saying,”a tired dog is a happy dog” is very true. And I agree that socialization in the puppy’s early stages plays a big role.

Robbi Hess says:

Great tips, especially as I am bringing up a new puppy!

    Beth says:

    Congratulations! I am looking forward to seeing Murray grow up.

The dogs named after bones is hilarious. Thanks for this awesome blog post.

I love that description of Relationship-based training. It is so true that fewer dogs would be surrendered for behavioural issues if people did their research and then socialised and trained puppies with rewards. I sure wish Kilo the Pug had that. The puppies are SO cute I want them all

This is terrific advice, and SQUEEE! great pictures. I wrote a whole book on puppies and agree…socialization and relationship training makes a big difference in starting off on the right “paw.”

    Beth says:

    Your book is an excellent resource for people to learn more about puppies!

How could someone consider putting a baby down for being small! Ugh! (OK, just needed to get that out of the way, and now…)

SQUEE! Look at the poopies! What an awesome job!

I totally agree with everything you learned, too. JF and Dewi went to puppy preschool and both got their Canine Good Citizen certifications by a year old. It was simply the best thing I ever did for them (making sure they were properly socialized and educating myself about positive training methods). Hope the two puppies there find homes soon!

    Beth says:

    I feel the same way as you about adorable Ash! She’s precious and super sweet.

I wish we had something like this here!!!! My pups are very UNsocialized 🙁 This would have made a huge difference for them!

Sadie says:

These photos are PRECIOUS! Puppy training is so much fun and a great way to bond with your new pack member as well as socializing them and teaching them manners. Great post!

Courtney says:

Oh my gosh those babies are the most adorable little ones and I wish I could adopt them all!

Such adorable puppies. Teaching them appropriate socialization skills, especially after some of their history, is so important.

Socialization is a must! Mr. N wasn’t as a puppy and we’re still dealing with the aftermath. Those puppies are adorable and I love the bone theme.

GREAT tips! They are such cute puppies I cannot imagine they won’t find a forever home quickly! I’ve shared them ALL over the place but wish I could take them home!

    Beth says:

    Thank you for sharing them!

What a great honor to be an Ambassador for such a wonderful organization! Such cuteness overload, I love it! I think Ash is super special, that sweet face & soulful eyes is melting my heart. Sharing!
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Beth says:

    I am so proud to be a Best Friends Ambassador!

How fun is this post! I love little Pima looking at herself in the mirror. Interesting to learn of the importance of socialization before the age of four months old. It’s the same for kittens, but even younger I think.

I didn’t know about the socialization! That is difficult to do when they don’t finish shots until after three months! I love reading your blog, I am such a big animal lover!

    Beth says:

    My understanding is that they just need the first set of shots and then it is okay to socialize with other dogs and puppies who have also had their shots. I know the recommendation used to be to wait until all the shots were given, but I think it has changed. (You should check with your vet though.)

Alice says:

Such a great experience, and of course the dogs are adorable!

Sonja says:

We did three levels of obedience training and it was the best investment ever. Now there is daycare twice a week for socializing.

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