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  • Writer's pictureSarah Treagus

Puppy Classes - The importance of qualified professionals - don’t be fooled by a fancy website.

Here at Pet-Professionals, we have been running successful Puppy School classes for 20 years.

We both trained with Gwen Bailey - world renowned behaviourist and author of books such as the Perfect Puppy and Clever dog. Gwen Bailey, as the owner of Puppy School, offers franchisee positions to a few select people.

Jo holds the franchise for Brighton, Hove and surrounding areas. Jo is a degree level behaviourist and a qualified Veterinary Nurse.

Sarah holds the franchise for Worthing, Sompting and surrounding areas. Sarah is an ABTC registered animal handling instructor and holds a higher diploma in Canine Studies.

We wanted to share our concern for some classes that are cropping up and not being run by suitably qualified professionals in the light of the dramatic increase in puppies since lockdown.

Sadly the dog training industry isn’t currently regulated, meaning anyone can call themselves a dog trainer. You can even buy a ‘course’ on Groupon! Don’t be fooled by a fancy website and some cute pictures… we have heard (and seen) some horror stories and its breaking our hearts.

We are seeing such an increase in behaviour problems such as separation issues and anxiety/fear of people and dogs. As qualified trainers and behaviourists, we are passionate about prevention, and the right puppy classes and correct advice can help significantly.

Puppy classes should always be run by suitably qualified professionals that have the knowledge needed for the specialist area of puppies and how to run classes. To not only teach training but also skills for life so they can grow into a polite and friendly family members and members of the wider community.

Classes also give up to date information which even experienced dog owners can benefit from - the field of psychology and canine behaviour is always developing as we learn more. For this reason, your puppy class teacher should be attending CPD annually to keep their knowledge base up to date.

At Puppy School we are extensively educated on what can go wrong in classes. We are there to prevent problems not create them. Something as simple as off lead puppy play, if not managed correctly and watched closely, can have dire consequences.

Sadly we have, over the years, seen puppies who need private additional support as a direct result of attending poorly run classes or being given the wrong advice.

It is also important that your dog trainer does not stray into giving behavioural advise unless they are suitable qualified to do so for the same reasons as above.

Things that commonly go wrong are:

  • Too many puppies in the class

  • Puppy play with puppies that are not suitable as first play mates

  • Classes with too big a breadth of age range

Its really not suitable for young puppies to be in class with puppies over 6 months, or worse still, adult dogs with behavioural problems.

For more information on Puppy Classes please do get in touch with us here at Pet-Professionals or check out the Puppy school web site at

Everyone wants puppy play for socialisation in puppy classes but your tutor should know when its not appropriate to run play, explain why and how to socialise outside the class setting. Behavioural problems that take months to fix or may never be truly remedied can be created in minutes at this extremely impressionable age.

The main benefit of classes should be the training and being able to follow their owners guidance and listen in a distracting environment. Socialisation is also a vital part of Puppy classes but most of your socialisation will happen outside class so your teacher needs to explain dog etiquette and how to make this safe and successful for all.

Happy training!

Jo and Sarah

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