My clients literally come into all shapes and sizes. I’ve worked with dogs as small as 4lbs and as large 160lbs. They have varying backgrounds; some are feral dogs from reserves while others were luckier born to breeders who loved them and nurtured them.
The size or breed or even to some degree background doesn’t matter as much as one crucial component that the owner of the dog can control. When I’m addressing a behaviour concern such as aggression, resource guarding or impulse control concerns (such as jumping up or stealing food) it is quicker and easier to “fix” the issues with dogs who have attended some sort of obedience class as a puppy.
Why is this?
Simply put because the dog was socialized to work around distractions (to varying degrees of proficiency) and the owner has a relationship with their dog that includes listening to commands (even if it’s just sit). Dogs who have had no formal training and happen to have an owner who hasn’t taught them much take a lot longer to work with.
So have a new puppy? Time to get to class. Not only are you less likely to have serious behaviour problems down the road but if they do happen it will be easier to address saving you money, stress and time in the long run.
It’s also important to remember that not all obedience classes are created equal. Puppies need to trained using positive reinforcement techniques not coercive or punishment based (no choke chains, no prong collars, no shock collars, no leash corrections using a karate chop or any other sort of hard yank, no hanging in the air, etc). Some of these classes are labeled as positive or balanced training. Puppies specifically should not be trained using harsh corrective methods and even in the “good old days” these methods were not used on dogs under 6 months.
So how do you find a good class? Well there’s a few signs of a great puppy class. You’ll want a trainer who has experience (ask where and if you do not understand the answer look it up as some dog training schools aren’t so good), has certification (CPDT-KA is a good start – that being said there are good trainers out there who do not have certification), use food when training, encourage people to come watch their classes before signing up, and can provide references. Be choosey and don’t settle on someone you don’t like. A good trainer/client relationship can help you keep small problems small throughout your dog’s life.