Puppy Start Right!: Teaching Puppy Classes

Early intervention, focused on exploration and prevention, is the key to averting behavioral problems and relinquishment. In this lecture, Debbie Martin discusses the importance of offering puppy socialization classes, and why all trainers should provide a class for dogs younger than four months of age. You will learn about the benefits of offering puppy socialization classes, the format and goals of these classes, and how to promote the service effectively.

  • Questions that will be answered in this lecture include:
  • What are the age recommendations for puppies attending a puppy socialization class?
  • Is puppy socialization class just an unstructured play session or a basic manners course? (Neither!
  • What happens in a puppy socialization class?
  • How do I reach the owners of puppies younger than four months of age?
  • What are the health risks when young puppies are in a class together?

Although this lecture does not go into the logistics of running a class from start to finish, it offers insight into what is involved in a puppy socialization class and how to get started. It includes a description of a puppy class format, video examples, and recommendations for course content.

Debbie Martin

Debbie Martin is a licensed Veterinary Technician in Texas, as well as a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Behavior (VTS-Behavior). She has been a full-time registered/licensed veterinary technician since 1996, and worked in private practice for 14 years.

Since 2005 Debbie has been the animal behavior technician for Veterinary Behavior Consultations, LLC. She assists Kenneth Martin, DVM, DACVB, during behavior consultations.

Debbie is the co-owner of TEAM Education in Animal Behavior, LLC, a business focused on providing education on humane training and behavior modification and fostering collaboration between various animal behavior professions.

She is a contributing author and co-editor of the textbook Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses by Wiley-Blackwell. Debbie and Dr. Martin have also authored a book on normal development and training for dogs: Puppy Start Right: Foundation Training for the Companion Dog. The pair also authored the Karen Pryor Academy course, Puppy Start Right for Instructors. The course provides not only the thorough knowledge necessary to provide puppy socialization classes, but also a complete curriculum with supplemental materials. Debbie’s combined experience in general practice and behavior specialty has fueled her passion for preventive behavior medicine and the Fear Free initiative. Debbie is honored to be representing veterinary technicians and animal trainers on the Fear Free executive committee and also a subject matter expert for Fear Free Pets. When she is not seeing clients, writing, or speaking, Debbie enjoys spending time at home with her husband and three Belgian Malinois on their 5-acre property, aptly named the Malamo, in Spicewood, Texas or exploring the beautiful hill country of Texas on her motorcycle!