When to Start Enrollment in Puppy Obedience Classes

Puppy obedience classes are an important part of your pet's development and socialization. Depending on what types of classes are offered in your area, you may begin as soon as you bring the puppy home.

Puppy Parties

Puppy parties are for dogs between the ages of 8 and 14 weeks, which is almost as soon as you bring your puppy home. These classes focus more on socialization than training. Since your puppy must be socialized to everything you don't want him to fear by the time he's 14 weeks, these classes attempt to introduce your puppy to many of those things.

Classes teach the puppies how to play together, introduce them to older dogs and ensure that the puppies are held and petted by many humans and children. Some classes even have crazy hat day, where the people come in costumes.

Since puppies of this age haven't been vaccinated, the classes must be held at a location that can be sterilized prior to class. Thus, the classes are often held in dog-friendly businesses, such as groomers or veterinarians.

Basic Puppy Obedience Classes

Since puppy parties aren't offered in many areas, the first chance you have to train your dog may be at 14 to 16 weeks when he has finished his vaccination schedule. Since these classes are usually offered at parks or pet stores, there are many diseases present and trainers want to use caution.

These classes focus more on basic manners than socialization and may teach any combination of sit, stay, down, stand, go to a spot, leave it, drop it, recall, heel, loose leash walking, boundaries and grooming.

If the trainer uses positive reinforcement, you can take your puppy as soon as they finish their vaccinations. Puppies at this age can learn, though they may be more easily distracted than puppies a few weeks older. If your puppy has trouble concentrating, stick with the class but be sure to enroll in another when he's a little older. This will reinforce all you have learned.

Traditional trainers who use punishment methods often recommend waiting until your puppy is 6 months old, since harsh corrections will be used that could harm a puppy. This is a good time to have your dog in a class because he will be entering his "teenage phase" and may need a reminder from puppy training. However, positive classes are also offered for this age and are equally if not more effective.

Additional Training

If you would like to enter your puppy in competitive obedience or other fun classes, such as agility, many trainers recommend waiting until your dog is 6 months to a year. This will allow them to learn basic commands beforehand, and they won't be so easily distracted when trying to learn difficult behaviors.

For athletic classes, such as agility and flyball, wait until your dog is older than one year, because puppies' joints and bones aren't developed yet, which may lead to serious injury. It can also cause joint problems later in life.

If you would like to take a therapy dog class with your dog, many trainers recommend waiting until 8 months to a year. Many dogs' personalities don't completely develop until then, so a dog may be very sweet as a puppy and then develop aggressive issues when older than a year, which would make him inappropriate for therapy work.

There isn't one answer to the question of when to begin puppy obedience classes. Depending on your goals and class availability, you may begin immediately or a few months later.