My local veterinary surgery runs ?puppy parties? twice a week to get puppies used to one another. Is this a good idea?

GUNDOG TRAINING

Paul Rawlings

There are contrasting schools of thought regarding puppy parties. One claims they can cause behavioural problems later on and the other says socialisation is essential.

It all depends on the person in charge of the puppy class and whether they are qualified in dog training and behaviour.

Research has shown that puppies, up to 16 weeks of age, have the greatest capacity to learn social skills. This is the period when controlled classes will help your puppy to develop these skills.

Too much socialisation can cause problems but a good teacher should not let this occur.

Your puppy needs to be confident so that its formal training later on is not affected by nerves or other signs of insecurity.

If the puppy party turns into a free for all, it may have dire effects on some of the puppies, but a well-organised class will help all the puppies to develop into friendly, well-mannered companions.

If the teacher has the initials KCAI (Kennel Club Accredited Instructor) after his or her name then I would have no hesitation in joining the class.