In short, yes.
In the Netherlands, pups get their shots at 6, 9, and 12 weeks. Some owners ask us about the risk bringing a pup that is not fully vaccinated to school if they join us from the age of 10 weeks, but the chance of catching a serious infection at the training school is mitigated by many factors:
The puppy course focuses on problem prevention, habituation, character-building and socialisation. We motivate you to keep up with your socialisation schedule so your pup is a happy-go-lucky, bomb-proof dog by the time he starts his obedience class. The most opportune age to achieve this closes around 13 weeks. The American Veterinary Association’s position statement, Dr. Anderson’s open letter to fellow veterinarians and an epidemiological research paper discuss the impact of the predictable behaviour problems due to insufficient early socialisation.
If you would like to read more about the ins and outs of the vaccination debate, you can click on this expanded article.
You can find the list of diseases against which your dog must be vaccinated to attend our lessons here.
In short, no.
Because we want to offer very young pups a safe environment in which to train. Titers are also ultimately more expensive than vaccinations, and have to be repeated before each new class. For details of our reasoning behind our vaccination policy, read this article.
Our course fees are on the expensive side, but we are definitely not the most expensive in the region (it ranged from 0 to 25 euros/lesson at our last price survey).
For that price, we give you:
In short, yes but.
Provided they are old enough to calmly attend the lesson and not distract the dogs, we welcome kids and even involve them as our ‘little assistants’ every time we can. We even have a dedicated kid-themed class during the puppy course.
In short, no.
We only recommend you use high-value treats (ham, etc.) in class. That is because it is harder for most dogs to focus in a group class. For your home practice, we explicitly instruct you to take the training treats out of the dog’s normal daily ration. In other words, you will no longer be feeding your dog’s daily allowance in his dish, but you will deliver some of it through training.
In short, no.
We focus a lot on boundaries and clear rules. Our obedience class specifically teaches dogs to be well-behaved family dogs. Refusing to use intimidation does not mean being lenient dog parents. We also found that a dog who trusts you is more reliable and less likely to be aggressive. And our aim is not to produce an army of robot-dogs but well-adjusted family members.
Because, based on years of research, we find the pack theory largely irrelevant to explain dog disobedience. We address each dog and owner as an individual, and our behaviour coach is trained to troubleshoot the frequently occuring little challenges in class by looking at the dog’s underlying motivation on a case-by-case basis (too distracted, undertrained, too stressed, etc.) and demonstrating the solution to you. For a behind-the-scenes look at Behaviour Coaching at OhMyDog, read Chad’s article.
To make sure the puppy class lessons have a life-long effect, we want to teach your pup during his sensitive period. So we operate a cyclical curriculum with our puppy class. No matter when you join us, you will get every lesson on the program. Every lesson is a one-off introduction to a life skill or situation with minimal iteration between classes so we do not have vastly disparate levels between pups in the same group. The puppies’ broad age range and variety of students who start and end the lesson during your program also allows for maximum variety in the types of dogs your pup is exposed to.
We welcome expats and their dogs in a dedicated, separate, English-spoken group. Lessons there, including central explanations, are given entirely in English. These groups are smaller than our Dutch groups with the same running costs, so we charge a higher fee per dog to keep this service running in The Hague.
It firstly concerns ‘littermate syndrome’. It is seriously advised not to bring home two pups from the same litter. Littermate syndrome involves pups who are more focused on each other than on your socialization and education attempts. This can result in pups that are insufficiently socialized, which can lead to serious problems as they grow up (like aggression and fear).
Should you already have two pups home, we will advise you to follow separate classes with them. We run several puppy classes in parallel so we should be able to accommodate for this.
Secondly, regardless of littermate syndrome, every dog needs the undivided attention of his owner during class, and hoping to be able to effectively handle two dogs during class is unrealistic.
Every obedience and puppy class is led by two trainers: one head instructor who presents the lesson centrally, and one behaviour coach. The role of the behaviour coach is to give one-on-one tips and guidance during the lesson. The coaches are true guardian angels for our clients whose dogs have a crazy five minutes. The coaches are trained in behavioural first aid, meaning they have a solution ready for most class problems like distraction, excitement, stress, etc. For a behind-the-scenes look at the role, read Chad’s article on Behaviour Coaching.
‘evidence-based’ practice is a code of conduct. People who strive to run an evidence-based school pledge to base their advice on solid logic and good evidence. It doesn’t mean we are cold and clinical, but it means we make sure you get reliable, well-researched, rational, effective advice rather than advice based on dogma, tradition, ideology or old wives tales.
For more details of our evidence-based approach, you can read this blog post.
For many reasons: because…
For the puppy lessons, we do have a special lesson dedicated to interdog play, during which we pick compatible play partners and let them play off-lead, whilst commenting on their social interactions and showing the owners when and how to interrupt play that is getting out of hand, and the difference between healthy rough play and bullying.