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Puppy Training Classes DC (Puppy Kindergarten)

Did you know that the socialization window closes at 12 weeks? (scroll down to the FAQs if your puppy is older than 12 weeks)

That means, before three months, you should expose your puppy to everything you want them to accept with confidence as an adult. Puppy classes act as insurance to help guarantee a confident, friendly adult dog. Exposure should happen in a systematic controlled way that doesn't overwhelm your puppy.

When we socialize to dogs, we don't just mean the dog down the block, but big dogs, little dogs, dogs with crazy haircuts, dogs of different colors, dogs who look like dogs, dogs who don't look like dogs, etc. We want our puppies to meet a new, friendly dog every day. With humans, the list is even bigger!

Because we live in Washington, DC, it is extra important that our puppies be super socialized! We like to help our puppy owners go the extra mile, so that they'll never have to worry that their dog will start trying to attack other dogs or people.

The socialization process, if done correctly, can be a huge job! Don't worry though, we're here to help!   

When should you join puppy class?

Has your vet or breeder told you to wait until 16 weeks before you bring your puppy out and about to meet people and dogs? From a behavior perspective, this is some of the most dangerous advice you could be given. We start our puppies in Puppy Kindergarten at 9 weeks of age. We also recommend attending puppy class twice weekly for the best results. The environment will begin training your puppy the instant you get home. It is also super easy for the puppy and humans to fall into bad habits. At puppy class, we'll help you get the best start possible, so that potential behavior issues are easily managed or avoided all together.

Click here to read the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's position statement on puppy socialization.


Puppy Kindergarten

Puppy Kindergarten is the best way to socialize your puppy to people and other dogs. This class will help with development of cognitive, motor, and social skills all while strengthening their bond with you! Puppy training will also begin including name recognition, come when called, sit, and down. Topics such as house training, puppy biting, separation anxiety, and the "zoomies" will also be covered. There will be plenty of off-leash play for the little ones.

Get ready to work hard and laugh a lot! It takes a village to raise a puppy!

Puppy Kindergarten is for puppies aged 9 weeks to 20 weeks. We require the first round of DHLPP or DHPP given at least 7 days prior to the class start. Puppies over 10 weeks should have the first two rounds of vaccinations with the second round administered after 8 weeks of age, but at least 7 days prior to the first session of class. Please complete an online Orientation session before attending any of our puppy classes.

All classes are 50 minutes in length.


**Puppy Kindergarten is not appropriate for aggressive puppies. If your puppy is aggressive and over 10 weeks, please contact us for information about private sessions.

***Our Saturday 9am class is for puppies who are smaller, gentler, or shy. This class is for non-aggressive puppies and may be ideal for small breed puppies, puppies under 11 wks, or extremely gentle puppies.

Gus demoing "puppy gentling"

NEW! AKC STAR Puppy Class

For our puppy parents who are committed to going the extra mile with their puppy, AKC STAR Puppy is a fun program developed as an incentive to responsible puppy owners. Puppies who take this class can take the AKC STAR Puppy test at the end of 6 weeks. This test will ensure that the puppy parent is ready to be a responsible puppy owner and that their puppy is on track to being a well-behaved adult dog.

You can read more about the program by clicking here.

Puppy II

For graduates of our Puppy Kindergarten class. Puppy II will take some of the basics your puppy learned in Puppy Kindergarten to the next level. Puppies will learn all of the skills covered in our Adult Dog Level 1 and 2 classes including: sit stay, down stay, reliable recalls, loose leash walking, and more! Since the puppies will have such a great foundation in socialization, off-leash obedience and distance work can begin right away. We'll also incorporate other puppy-specific exercises throughout the class.

Puppy II is for puppies aged 16 weeks to 8 months. Proof of Rabies vaccination will be required. All classes are 50 minutes in length.


Puppy Classes FAQs

My puppy is friendly and loves everyone. I don't think we need puppy class? This is a common question that we hear. Think of your puppy as an infant. Of course your puppy is friendly and happy to see everyone! Your puppy is a baby and is pre-programmed to be accepting. Aggression and fear issues due to insufficient socialization often do not appear until sexual and social maturity, between 7 months to 36 months of age. That's why it is critical to do everything you can to socialize your puppy even if your puppy is a social butterfly. If things are going well, then great, do a little more! Think of all of this socialization and puppy training as an investment. Yes, it is a large investment of time, money, and resources, but the more you put in at the beginning, the more you'll get as a "pay off" in your friendly, confident, well-behaved adult dog.

What do I need for puppy class? We will feed your puppy in class. You will need to bring your puppy's breakfast or dinner in a plastic bag. Also bring medium value and high value treats. Many puppies get thirsty during class and we recommend bringing a water bowl and possibly a bottle of water (we do have a sink here, but sometimes class gets too busy to go and fill your bowl!).

My puppy is older than 12 weeks, am I too late? Puppies can attend puppy class up to 20 weeks. Exposing your puppy after 12 weeks is not ideal; however, many puppies are able to do this successfully. If you have a late start, it is especially important to enroll in puppy class and to do structured exposure. Even though the critical window has past, puppies are still more accepting of new people, animals, and experiences than adult dogs, so you can still do quite a bit to ensure a well-adjusted, confident, friendly adult dog. For these puppies, we highly recommend attending Puppy Kindergarten 2 times per week if at all possible. This will keep them super social and accepting of lots of other dogs and people through puppy-hood, through adolescence, and into a friendly, well-socialized adult dog.