What is the best age to start puppy classes?
As long as your puppy is healthy and up to date on vaccines, it should start attending puppy classes at 8 weeks of age.
Now, that may be surprising to many people! It used to be veterinarians suggested waiting until a puppy had completed its vaccines before beginning their first class even though trainers suggested starting at 8 weeks of age. But many veterinarians started noticing puppy owners where so frustrate with their puppy by the time it was ready for class that the puppy owners just wanted to give up. And indeed, many puppies had already lost their first home by the time they were ready for training. Now, professional veterinary groups are getting behind trainers and supporting beginning formal classes at 8 weeks of age as long as the puppy is healthy and up to date on its vaccines.
Think about it. The moment your puppy is born, it is learning and the really great breeders begin handling and socializing the puppies right away with 5 second, early neurological stimulation exercises. Even though puppies have short attention spans they can start learning simple behaviors like sit, down, follow me etc before they are adopted at 8 weeks of age.
In addition, studies show if your puppy attends 2 puppy classes prior to 12 weeks of age (they are less fearful under 12 weeks of age) the probability of developing aggression issues is reduced by 1.6 times. This is a critical socialization period of the dog.
Need 1 more great reason to start bringing your puppy to classes at 8 weeks of age? Your puppy will develop habits whether you teach it or not. They learn undesirable habits just as quickly as they do good habits. It is so much easier to instill good habits from the beginning if you have professional help. Getting rid of bad habits takes more time, is frustrating is the number 1 cause of dogs loosing their home.
So yes, as long as your puppy is healthy and up to date on its vaccines, start bringing it to classes at 8 weeks of age.