AKRON, Ohio — The first night of a puppy class can be hectic as excited little ones ages 8 weeks to 4 months begin to learn acceptable behavior and how to properly socialize with other dogs.
But for two 10-week-old pups, it was a night of rediscovering the kinship of being littermates.
The owners of two Labrador retriever-mix pups were shocked at the resemblance of the two canines when they arrived at Papp’s Dog Services in Akron, Ohio, recently for their first puppy class.
“They have to be brother and sister,” remarked Papp’s owner, Susan Jenkins, who has more than 30 years of experience in animal obedience training.
After a little sleuthing, pet parents Naomi and James Bryant and Pat Doane realized that little Maxx and Roxie came from the same Barberton, Ohio, home.
While getting some “grown-up” help from Jenkins’ dog, Caleb, who has been ranked one of the top obedience Labrador retrievers in the nation, instructor Jennifer Durst began the class by talking to owners about what is considered acceptable behaviors and what they could expect to learn in the four-week, hourlong sessions.
“Supervision is the key,” Durst told them. When not supervised, puppies should be in an empty crate to prevent them from choking on toys, blankets or chew strips.
“Treats are an earned privilege,” said Jenkins. Toys should be given only while the puppy is supervised to make sure it can’t break off pieces of rubber or fabric, she said.
During the first class, puppies and their owners focused on behavior issues they are dealing with, such as housebreaking and biting, a puppy’s way of communicating. The joyful pups were having a great time and had no idea they were actually absorbing new lessons.
Most owners in the class said they were having issues with housebreaking their pups. “If you are supervising your puppy properly, you will pick up on the signals when they need a potty break,” Durst said.
Durst explained that getting angry or frustrated with a misbehaving puppy is counterproductive. “One of our goals here is to make your puppy comfortable in any situation and help you learn to be comfortable, too.”
The four-week curriculum is geared to helping owners raise the ideal pet. Jenkins has worked with veterinarians, vet assistants, groomers and therapy dog testers for the Delta Society, the largest national group that certifies therapy dogs in the U.S., to develop her curriculum.
Jenkins insists puppies begin learning limited recall — to come every time they are called. “In my opinion, (it is) one of the most important things you can teach a dog,” Jenkins said.
Dogs who get a good foundation with early training stand a better chance of a good life. Trained dogs are more welcome in homes and don’t end up abandoned in a shelter for bad behavior, Jenkins said. “I’ve gotten a 5-year-old shepherd that was a biter that would probably never have gotten to that point if they had brought him to me sooner,” Jenkins said.
Instructor Jennifer Durst holds a tunnel as Gary Miller tries to coax Ben-G through during a basic puppy training class for beginner owners and their dogs at Papp’s Dog Services in Akron, Ohio.×
Ben-G (left) and George get acquainted in a socialization exercise during a basic puppy training class for beginner owners and their dogs at Papp’s Dog Services in Akron, Ohio.×
Kelsey Simmons coaxes Roxxie through a tunnel held by instructor Jennifer Durst during a basic puppy training class for beginner owners and their dogs at Papp’s Dog Services in Akron, Ohio.×
Instructor Jennifer Durst discusses training techniques with James and Naomi Bryant (left) with Maxxie; Pat Doan and her great-grandchildren, Kendall, 5, and Kelsey Simmons, 11, and Roxxie; and Karen and Gary Miller with Ben-G during a basic puppy training class for beginner owners and their dogs at Papp’s Dog Services in Akron, Ohio.×