In June we took the plunge and welcomed our first ever puppy into the family.  I’ll admit, we were nervous.  We liked our freedom. We’d only just got the kids to sleep through to a social hour; the ‘playroom’ was finally free from primary coloured plastic toys and life was pretty organised.  However, our goal was to teach the children about responsibility and unconditional love so with our ‘baby’ starting high school next year, it was now or never.

With a due date set for our new pup to arrive I knew I needed help – enter Kacie Gauld, a dog behaviourist and puppy trainer who runs her own rewards based program Kacie’s Puppy School.

Kacie arranged a home visit a week out from D Day to come and offer some tips and advice to set us up for success from day one.  She came prepared with printed notes, which were referred to frequently in coming days, and walked me through what to expect in the first few weeks.  This session was invaluable.  It wasn’t ‘training’ but practical advice on where to put Puppy to sleep at night; where to feed her; where to take her to the toilet and which hazards to puppy proof.  She talked me through items to purchase and what not to waste money on from types of collars and leads; puppy pee pads and plush toys through to toys to keep her occupied whilst we were out.  Seeing our home enabled Kacie to foresee some of the potential pitfalls we could avoid with forward planning such as finding a quick route to exit whilst toilet training and a safe place to leave the dog for extended periods when we had to leave her alone.

Our fur baby, BeBe, a black cavoodle girl, arrived with all the fluff and chaos you’d expect from an 8 week old puppy and it was love at first sight … even at 4am, her preferred waking hour.

Kacie had stressed the importance of socialisation for dogs within their first 16 weeks when the majority of their learning takes place.  By careful exposure to environmental things that they are likely to encounter in their life, you can ensure that they are confident, socially acceptable and enjoyable to live with for all the family.  Classes were Sunday mornings at Murrarie State School, undercover and on a concrete floor to protect unvaccinated pups from dirt transmitted diseases.  Classes are kept small and manageable so were lucky to be joined by brother and sister dynamic duo Jack Russells, Maple and Humphrey, and lovely labrador Rosie who towered over the rest of the class even as a baby herself.

Classes lasted a little over an hour for five weeks with extra playtime tacked on the end for the puppies to learn how to play with other dogs in a safe environment whilst they were all still quarantined before their 12 week vaccinations.  Lessons covered installing marker words; how to reward dogs to incentivise them to want to learn; how dogs learn; and the all-important socialisation, independence and impulse control training.  Kacie stresses that these Puppy Pre-School lessons are not obedience classes as obedience can be taught at any time in a dog’s life – these lessons are designed to set you up for a positive learning experience with your dog that will develop as your relationship grows.

I found the classes a great way for my daughter and me to gain confidence in a safe environment.  Kacie made it fun and simple for us to implement at home.  As neither of us had previously had much exposure to dogs we needed Kacie’s reassurance that we were on the right track.  BeBe has brought us so much pleasure but Kacie smoothed the way to ensure that our puppy love has got legs ready to go the distance as we get through the chewy stage *sigh*.

If you’d like to know more about Kacie’s upcoming Puppy School Classes you can call her on 0414 872 062 or visit her website Kaciespuppyschool.com .

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