Puppy Training & Socialisation Classes in Brixham, Totnes & Dartmouth
Tilly the Golden Retriever goofing around
Why do a class? It's a puppy, not rocket science...how bad can it be?
Puppies can be hard work, no matter how much research you did beforehand, or how many dogs you have lived with to date. Your puppy is going to play bite you, pee and poop on your floor, chew your stuff, jump up on visitors, chase the cat, sleep a lot (phew) but not necessarily through the night (!), do things you cannot fathom for love nor money, and have unforeseen levels of energy which will be unleashed on YOU because YOU are the entertainment committee.
Braide the Shih Tzu, Pug, Chihuahua mix - moments later he was cart wheeling round the garden in 'mad five minute' mode
Then there’s the never ending and conflicting advice coming at you from the internet, dog-owning family and friends, and even complete strangers you meet while dog walking. Some advice will be good, some bad, some downright dangerous - do you know which is which? You need to ‘socialise’ your puppy - it’s really important - but it’s not as simple as getting out and about, and it’s time sensitive. Do you know how to do it, and when by? If you’ve got a ‘wallflower’ or a ‘friendly bulldozer’, how does that effect socialisation? Do you know which things we teach are time sensitive and which aren’t so you can prioritise? How are you going to dissipate all that energy? Aaargh!
Diesel the Doberman exhibiting some of 'that energy' while playing with his pal Hugo the German Short Haired Pointer
This is my job. I am here to guide you safely and successfully through puppy hood and beyond. You can even contact me before you buy your puppy; it’s never too soon to call! Puppy training & socialisation classes are all about prevention and early intervention; solving the problems you have now, the ones that may pop up along the way, and helping prevent common behavioural issues for the long term. Some problems are easier than others, some dogs are easier than others, but everyone needs a little help; some quite a lot.
Who is it for?
My clients include anyone and everyone - first time pup parents, those that have not had a pup for some time, first timers at being ‘the responsible adult’, people who have had dogs before but want to ‘get it right this time’, and those that have seen the benefits of attending with a previous dog and consider attendance as necessary as vaccinations. As many people can come per puppy as you like. Children are welcome but, with occasional exceptions, I have found under 10s tire quickly and bug their parents silly, causing frustration; so I suggest leaving under 10s at home for your own sanity unless you feel you have one of the 'occasional exceptions'. No prior knowledge of dogs or training is necessary; you will get all that on the course.
All dogs are welcome - tiny ones like Cilla the Miniature Dachshund here, getting lost in the laundry, right through to dogs who will be heavier than me when they reach adulthood
Puppies of all breeds, breed mixes, both sexes, and all sizes are welcome; there are only two stipulations - puppies must be under 18 weeks old and have had a minimum of their first vaccination at least seven days before the first session they attend. There is a maximum of six puppies in the training sessions and twelve in the socialisation sessions. The 'puppy socials' begin with six puppies and then, as the six week course goes on, other freshly vaccinated puppies join in up to a maximum of twelve, giving them an early start on this important aspect of their development while they wait for the next training course to start. These early, extra puppy socials are free! Yes FREE, see later.
What will we do?
All the things you know you need already, and all those things you don’t know you need…yet.
Things you probably already have on your wish list include:-
Energetic Juno the Cockerpoo makes off with her prize
Then there's the stuff you don't know you need...yet; we'll cover that too. This includes:-
Getting this smart new red harness on Ruby the terrier mix is an example of the application of body handling exercises
Where, when, and how much?
WHERE: I hire training venues in Brixham, Totnes & Dartmouth. In Brixham I use St Mary's Church Hall on Drew Street; in Totnes I use Seymour Vets on Steamer Quay Road (all welcome, not just clients of Seymour Vets); and in Dartmouth I use Townstal Community Hall on Davis Road. Clients come from all over including Paignton, Torquay, Newton Abbot, Buckfastleigh, Kingsbridge and many other towns and villages in Torbay, Teignbridge and the South Hams.
WHEN: Dartmouth happens on a weekday afternoon (before the schools chuck out), Brixham on a week day evening, and Totnes on two weekday evenings. Courses involve six weekly sessions. For precise days and times you must contact me (see later).
Coco the Cockerpoo, Sophie the Labrador x Pointer, Loki the Dalmatian, Bodhi the Cockerpoo and Brody the Malinois being trained by their people at my Dartmouth, Brixham & Totnes venues
In each venue, we start with a half hour ‘puppy social’ where we do off lead play, work on recognising body language, and intersperse some body handling and recall practice. Then they/you have a ten minute loo break and it’s on with the training lesson of one hour and ten minutes. We follow this formula for five of the six weekly sessions, but in week two we have a puppy parents’ session where just the humans come, no dogs. This is when you will learn about play biting, bite inhibition, and both physical exercise and mental stimulation. With the help of extensive pictures and videos I will also talk you through the basics of dog body language (the good, the bad and the ugly) so that you can stay safe, get better at interpreting what your dog is desperately trying to tell you, and make better decisions about playmates and when to intervene in play sessions. This session is two and a half hours long, including a 15 minute break part way.
HOW MUCH: The course fee is £120, all inclusive - the five half hour puppy socials, the five one hour and ten minute training lessons, and the two and a quarter hour puppy parents’ session. If you have done any early, extra puppy socials while waiting for your six week training course to start these are simply rolled in to the £120 course fee - yes, they are FREE! Should you need to call me for advice outside of class time I am happy to do this for free too.
Tag team wrestling at one of my Brixham puppy socials. On the left Milo the Sprocker v Loki the Dalmatian and on the right Chewie the Cockerpoo v Bertie the Border Terrier
Please note, in order to keep my classes small and offer the personalised attention that I do, all course fees must be paid, in full, a minimum of one week before the start date, and there are no refunds for missed sessions or if you drop out. Consequently, if you would like to come and observe a session (without your dog) before you book a place, to check it's the right course for you, then I am happy to arrange this.
Anything else I should know?
As you have gathered by now there is more to raising puppies than training and there is more to training than ‘obedience’. You and your puppy are going to learn a lot in a very short space of time. To help you I send weekly lesson reviews by email the day after a session to remind you of all the key points we covered - this can then be shared and practised by all care givers.
I am a vet, pet behaviour counsellor and trainer with a lot of education and years in this industry on the clock, so you will be getting a fully insured, professional, empathetic, and compassionate service.
I have made an ethical decision to use modern, reward based training methods ONLY - these are grounded in science and force free. We use rewards such as food, toys, play, praise, and physical affection to positively reinforce good behaviour. Nice ways to eliminate unwanted behaviour that don't involve force, fear, physical abuse, or punishment gadgets are discussed at the puppy parents' session and throughout.
Most dogs work for food but sometimes they're all about the ball like Sprocket the collie/spaniel cross here. Look at that face!
Once you have completed a puppy course with me you can then access a whole host of other group classes and fun activities. You can also arrange to see me for behaviour counselling and private (one to one) training of both your puppy and any other household dogs AND cats with whom you may share your life and home. This can also be done before and during the course.
How do I book a place?
For answers to any questions, for details of start dates and times, and to book a place, please telephone me, Sara Davies, at home on 01803 859634. I am almost always around between 9 & 11am Monday to Thursday (except Bank Holidays) and an answer machine is available at other times and I will return your call.
Don't stick your head in the sand like Matilda and Moth here, it's never too soon to call!
It really is never too soon to call - I can pencil you in even before you pick up your puppy - but it can be too late; so give me a call today.
Messages from my clients
“Being retired and becoming the owner of an eight week old puppy I anticipated life might become a battle ground of 'puppy will' versus 'human will'. So, I enrolled us both on Sara's puppy training and socialisation course, starting when Healy (the Cockerpoo) was twelve weeks old. Initially he was a timid, shy puppy not venturing away from my feet, however, within two or three sessions he was tumbling around with the biggest puppies. He's now confident when out on walks, both on and off the lead, meeting people and dogs of all sizes. Sara being available on the phone for those 'human panic' moments was reassuring and a life saver of human sanity. She helped resolve seemingly hopeless situations. Sara's logical, step by step guidance in the classes has instilled reliable obedience in basic commands and I often get complimented, when out, as to Healy's compliant behaviour. I look forward to enrolling Healy on further courses run by Sara.” Mick Jennings & Healy the Cockerpoo
“Jovi and I thoroughly enjoyed your classes and he has improved so much in all areas thanks to your tips and ideas! The owners only session allowed me to understand him and his body language much better which has helped us in socialising with other dogs, children and adults. His confidence has increased and he has come on leaps and bounds from the little dog that hid under the chair on the first week. Thank you.” Sam Blatchford & Jovi the Bichon Frise x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
“I highly recommend this course - not only is it brilliant for puppy socialisation it also helped me, as a new puppy mum, to understand how to control Ziggy and it allowed me to meet new people going through the same experiences.” Stephanie Greening & Ziggy the Springer Spaniel x Labrador
“We thoroughly enjoyed the puppy classes and found them really helpful. We were given a real insight into doggy behaviour and an understanding of why they do things and how to deal with unwanted behaviours and encourage and reward good behaviour. The principles of this will stick with us and we are sure this will be really valuable in the long term rather than just learning a few 'party piece tricks' which has been our experience of puppy classes in the past. Jazz was 11 weeks old when the classes started, and had only just finished her vaccination course, so had not met many other dogs. The socialisation half hour each week was really valuable to her and we saw her emerge from a shy girl the first week to a playful, confident, friendly pup over the following weeks. We would definitely recommend the puppy classes and knowing that ongoing support is available is reassuring. Thank you Sara.” Caroline and Matt Saunders & Jazz the Dalmatian
“Thank you so much for the informative and fun course. My dog and I learned so much and are going forward with a greater understanding of each other! I cannot recommend this course enough.... if you want the most enjoyment from your pup don't hesitate to do this course. It's a great investment for you both. Thanks again Sara.” Debs Barker & Maruti the Wire Haired Hungarian Vizsla