Bringing a new puppy into your life will be one of the most exciting things you ever experience, we know it was for us! What happens in their first few months with you will determine their adult behaviour and characteristics, so getting things off to a good start is essential. One of the ways to set the tone and nip any bad habits in the bud is by enrolling them into puppy training classes. These exist in group, 1-2-1, or online form, and can cover everything from puppy socialisation to dealing with separation anxiety. We'll start off by looking at why puppy training is so important and how to choose the right class for your pup, then give you a list of 10 of the best puppy training classes around the UK for you to choose from.
Why are puppy training classes so important?
Even if you've had doggies your whole life and have trained them before, classes can benefit pups and you for a number of reasons:
If you don't have any fur babies at home, classes will give your pup the chance to interact with other dogs in a safe and controlled environment. Some classes even allow children to come along so your pup can familiarise themselves with things like small grabbing hands...
2. Expert opinions
The trainers will have seen and dealt with every behaviour under the sun, and know what to do to correct any that might become larger issues later on.
3. Personal development
It's technically not just your pup enrolling, but you too! The trainers will teach you tips and tricks that you'll be able to use for life. Plus you'll meet other fresh-faced pet parents who are dealing with the same puppy-related challenges as you. As incredible as puppies are, it's not all cuddles and licks, trust us!
4. A safe space
Finding the space or setting aside the time for training can be a challenge, so by booking onto a course you'll be dedicating some time each week to it.
5. Relationship building
Finally puppy classes are a brilliant way to build the bond you want between you and your puppy.
When should you start puppy training classes?
The recommended time to start puppy training classes is around 3 months, so practically as soon as you bring your new pup home. If you've brought your pup home slightly later, then most classes allow for pups between 12 weeks up to 12 months. This is just to ensure they're all starting from roughly the same level, and there aren't any teacher's pets straight away!
Choosing the right puppy class
Choosing the right class for your pup is the first step in your journey. Of course, there are certain practicalities that are going to affect your decision. The main two are the budget you have and the location of the class. You're hardly going to want to drive for more than 45 minutes each way, are you? However luckily during the lockdown, we saw a huge surge in virtual classes, so if you're unable to leave your home there are still plenty of options for you.
Once you've whittled down your list based on these two factors, the next things to look out for are the facilities and teachers credentials. The facility should have a clean and open space, ideally with an outdoor and indoor site to make do for our typical UK weather. Regarding credentials, there are a number of different organisations that offer professionally recognised qualifications. The main one's in the UK are the Academy of Dog Training & Behaviour (ADTB) and the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association (MCFBA) - so look out for these terms!
The final step is picking the right class size, and type. Both 1-2-1, online or group classes are available. For pups, one of the greatest lessons they'll need to learn is socialising with other pups, which of course group classes are best for. If your pup is very nervous or you have quite specific needs, you could start with a 1-2-1 session, working up to a group class once confidence has been built. Look for a maximum ratio of about 6 pups to 1 teacher.
Once you've chosen the class we'd recommend visiting one of them without your pup first, to get a feel of what it's like and if it's what you're looking for. Chat with some of the pupils hoomans and gather as much feedback as you can to make a well-informed decision, or check out reviews online.
How much do puppy training classes cost?
As with anything, there's a large range in the cost of puppy classes. From those we've picked out below, the range is from £60 to £875 for a four-week course.
What do I need to bring to the class?
We all know preparation is the key to success, so the better prepared you are for class, the better results you'll get! Besides you and your pup both bringing their A-Game, you'll need a treat pouch filled with your pups favourite treats. The better the treat, the better your pup will work for it, so make sure they truly are irresistible. We offer two treats specifically designed for training, our Chicken & Duck Softies and Plant-Powered Softies. These have a soft bite for easy eating mid-training and are also easy to break apart into smaller bits, as it can be easy to overfeed your pup during training. Plus they're packed with the prebiotic Slippery Elm and free from added sugar or salt to be easy on your puppy's sensitive tum. Or if you're in a rush, you could just pack some of their favourite puppy food.
Besides these, you'll also need to make sure your pup has all its vaccinations. Then you'll just need all the typical things you take on a doggy day out; portable water bowl, dog harness, collar, poo bags, fav toy (especially for anxious pups).
Best puppy training classes in the UK
In no particular order, we've rounded up some of the best puppy training classes from around the UK or online, so wherever you live, there will be one for you! Prepare yourself for a fair few doggy puns in the school names...
The Darling Dog Company - East London
These classes are run by Louise Glazebrook, who is one of the UK's leading dog behaviourists and trainers. You might have spotted her on BBC2's Puppies and Us programme. She runs both 1-2-1 classes, as well as puppy packages for pups up to 6 months old.
£250 for a 4-week course - LEARN MORE
Kirby Dog Services - Virtual, Brighton & Hove, Central London and Devil's Dyke Field
These classes run via a weekly live 1hr online session, or 1-2-1 in-person sessions are also available in various locations. Meaning wherever you're based, you'll be able to join in. Ella and Becca have even set up a whole service dedicated to puppies called The Puppy Collective, so your pooch will be in very safe hands. Each week you'll run through a different topic, such as how to deal with separation anxiety or puppy socialisation training.
£150 for a 6-week course - LEARN MORE
Dog-ease - Bishop's Stortford
Owner Adem Fehmi has worked with animals his whole life and even has a BSC from the MCFBA (Canine and Feline Behaviour Association) to prove it. The school offers 1-2-1 puppy training, and group class settings. The group training also starts with a 1-2-1 introduction to give you some one-on-one time with Adem, where you can mention any particular challenges you want to overcome. Noone likes a name-dropper, but he's trained a fair few celebs pooches too!
Use the 'Contact Form' to find the prices - LEARN MORE
Simply Pawsitive - Scotland
The clue's in the name with Simply Pawsitive, as their focus is using positive training methods to reward good behaviour. Owner Jill has trained with the ADTB, and adheres to a strict maximum of 6 pups per class - pawfect! Her puppy course lasts for 4-weeks, taking place on Sunday's, and at £60 is the best value from this guide.
£60 for a 4-week course - LEARN MORE
Steve Mann Dog Training - Virtual
Steve Mann has 30 years of dog bewitching under his belt. Founder of The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers, he's taught pups to be well-behaved all around the world. He offers one-on-one sessions that can be arranged via his website, and you can get a taste of what these will be like from one of his FREE online lessons. They're also held over Zoom now, so wherever you live, you'll be able to apply!
£120 + VAT for a one-to-one session - LEARN MORE
Pawsitive Pursuit - Brixham, Devon
This school offers everything from online mentoring and 1-2-1 coaching to intensive packages and even a board & train service. Their dedicated behaviourists are even prepared to travel to you, so the training can be on your very doorstep. First, they'll complete a behavioural assessment, then they'll pull together a bespoke package according to your doggy's needs.
Click 'Book' to request price - LEARN MORE
The DogFather - Wales
You wouldn't be wrong in thinking the DogFather sounds a little ominous, but we can assure you Graeme Hall is anything but. His focus is on training your puppy and you to ensure skills are learned for life. His thorough puppy course covers everything from toilet training and preventing puppy biting to socialising and basic commands like "sit". Plus he's happy to travel anywhere in the UK if needed. However, prices may increase if you're based outside of Central England and the Midlands.
£875 for a tailored 1-2-1 course - LEARN MORE
Dog Intuition - Bath
Colin Rose is chief dog at Dog Intuition, who's equipped with an Open University Diploma in Canine Psychology. His speciality is working with German Shepherds, Swiss Mountain dogs, and Collies, but he's well-versed in all breeds. At one point he even had 7 dogs and 13 puppies under his own roof, or should we say woof! He offers puppy socialisation classes, structured for nervous pups that need to gain confidence.
£65 for a 4-week course - LEARN MORE
Dogs Aloud - Manchester
The wittily named Dogs Aloud has it all; a daycare, grooming centre, training facility, and even a doggy swimming pool! They run a 6-week puppy socialisation class that gives your pup the chance to play with other dogs their own age and make their journey into adulthood as smooth as possible. On the last day, the course even finishes with a swim session!
£90 for a 6-week course - LEARN MORE
Paws in Wales - Wales
Paws in Wales is a brand new school in West Wales, run by Heather Witty. The school has an indoor and outdoor site, which is where her puppy classes take place. She even offers a pre-puppy service, offering advice on everything from puppy vaccinations to whether you're even ready for a pup in the first place!
£90 for a 6-week course - LEARN MORE
Training your new puppy will be one of the first challenges you overcome together, and if done successfully will help you build an unbreakable bond. Every pup is different, so ultimuttly only you and your pooch will know which is the best option, but whichever you choose, we know you'll have heaps of fun along the way, and hopefully end up with a glitzy medal or certificate at the end of it too. Good luck!