The Benefits of AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Training Classes
You’ve brought your new puppy home, purchased the right food, a leash and collar, and all other the essentials you’ve been told you need. But what’s next? You’ve heard that it’s important to get your new dog off to a good start, but you’re not exactly sure what that means. Experienced dog owners can tell you that early training is one of the best ways to socialize your puppy (or older dog) during this important time of adjustment and development.
Training can typically start as soon as soon as your puppy has completed the first round of vaccines(with the approval of your veterinarian), which can be as early as eight weeks. AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy(Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility) is the perfect place to start. AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy training classes teach the foundation for basic functional skills such as sit, down and come and provide the opportunity to socialize with other puppies and people.
A positive reinforcement approach is used to teach young puppies the basics of skills such as using a food lure to guide the puppy into a sit, or having the dog owner kneel and clap her hands to encourage the puppy to come. When puppies are older, or near the end of a 6-weeks class, they will be able to perform S.T.A.R. behaviors more independently.
At the end of the six-week class, your trainer will test you and your puppy on these basic skills to see how much you both have learned. Before you know it, you’ll be receiving your puppy’s AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy certificate and beautiful gold medal.
At the AKC, we know that a well-trained dog is a joy to own. AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy classes provide a starting point for a lifetime of training and learning with your dog. S.T.A.R. graduates go on to Canine Good Citizen training and earn AKC Therapy Dog titles, as well as start competing in canine sportssuch as obedience and agility.
To find an AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy class near you, you can search for a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluator here. We hope that you will make your puppy a STAR soon!
Getting Started In Obedience
WHY TRAIN YOUR DOG?
Dogs, by nature, are pack animals with a well-defined social order. As you and your family become your dog’s pack, your new dog will look to you – the leader of the pack – for guidance. Leadership can be established in a firm but friendly manner. Keep in mind that it is unrealistic to expect the dog to abide by the rules of the household without the leader teaching appropriate behavior!
Much like people, every dog is different. Some are hyperactive. Some are laid-back. Some are serious. Others are silly. Some are shy, and yet others have too much confidence. Regardless of these differences, training is necessary for all dogs and beneficial to your entire family.
- Help correct nuisance behaviors such as jumping on people, digging, barking, and chewing, while providing mental and physical activities for your dog.
- Deepen the bond between you and your dog, and to increase the enjoyment, companionship and satisfaction of your relationship with your dog.
- Ensure your dog’s safety and happiness.
- Nurture good canine companionship for the benefit of your family, neighborhood and community.
- Allow you to enjoy the fun and excitement of competing in AKC events. You and your dog can earn certificates and titles while you continue to strengthen your communication and teamwork.
TYPES OF TRAINING CLASSES
- Puppy Class — A developmental training course for the 3-to-5-month-old puppy. A puppy class emphasizes socialization with people and other puppies. Instructors usually offer information on growth, nutrition, grooming, housebreaking and problem-solving and teach basic household commands.
- Basic Class — A basic training course for dogs 5-to-6 months and older, aimed at training you to train your dog. The basic class emphasizes the essential training commands needed to make a dog a good companion: heel on a loose leash, sit, stand, down, stay in position, and come when called. Instructors also usually provide information on nutrition, grooming and problem-solving. This basic training is important in keeping your dog safe.
- Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) Class — May be a separate class or a part of a beginner class at AKC clubs and other organizations. CGC is a certification program that is designed to reward dogs that have good manners at home and in the community. Your dog will need to know the commands and exercises taught in a basic training class to qualify for a passing score on the CGC test. Dogs that pass the CGC test receive a certificate from the AKC and are recorded in the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Archive.
- Training Classes for Companion Events — A variety of classes that prepare students and their dogs for competition in obedience, agility, tracking and other AKC events. You will be instructed in the levels of competition and titles available, how to teach your dog the required exercises, and the regulations that apply when you are competing.
HOW DO I GET STARTED IN OBEDIENCE?
The best advice is to START TRAINING EARLY! Training a puppy is easier than training an adult dog because a puppy is more open to new ideas and has not yet developed “bad habits.”
While it’s best to start young, the old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is only partially true. It is never too late to train your dog, although it may take longer to retrain it to eliminate undesirable habits.
Most AKC clubs conduct a variety of classes instructed by trainers who have won awards in obedience competition with their own dogs, and they make sure to stay up-to-date on the latest training techniques. They have experience training all breeds of dogs and can help solve behavior problems. Most clubs accept all types of dogs, mixed breeds and purebreds, and prospective students are usually welcome to observe a class before signing up for a training course.
When you attend classes with your dog, instructors will show you how to teach it and will expect you to practice at home. The younger the dog, the shorter the practice sessions should be. For the best results, both you and your dog should enjoy frequent short sessions, combined with some play and rewards.
To find AKC clubs in your area that offer training, please visit our Training Resources section.