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I've just enrolled our GSD into puppy kindergarten at a local kennel club. She will start at almost 10 weeks of age after her 2nd round of shots. The contact person for the club explained that this class will be part socialization, but also beginning obedience (i.e. not just free puppy play) and recommended that I go ahead and purchase either a nylon or metal slip collar. I would think the corrections with such a collar on a dog so young would be very minimal, but I'm wondering if this is a bit odd, or if used correctly is perfectly fine to get the dog accustomed to it early? This was not the class instructor, so I'm thinking I should wait until the first day of class and see what they personally recommend. Any thoughts?
 

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I don't see a need to be correcting a dog that young at all.
There's certainly no harm in putting the puppy on the dead ring, but you're investing in a collar that the puppy is sure to outgrow.

I see zero reason a pup can't be trained in a flat collar, and if the trainer can't accomplish that? I wouldn't be training with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Many thanks for the quick reply. I thought it odd considering the rate she will outgrow it too. I'll wait and keep the flat collar and see how the class goes.
 

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I didnt' switch Frank to a slip/choke chain till about 6 months, but I did use a nylon martingale type collar when I took him to training as a pup, I was afraid with a regular flat collar he might get scared and pull out of it and the martingale he couldn't.
 

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Have you been to watch a class?

If possible, I'd go to watch a class and see how many corrections they're doing. No way in heck I'd take my 10-week old puppy to a correction-based obedience class.
 

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While I have the fursaver on all of my dogs I have NEVER used the choke option and will never use it whatsoever. I hate choking the dogs and would never train with somebody that promotes it in training.
 

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No way would I go to a correction based puppy class. I'm not a fan of choke collars. There is a German study that shows they do a lot of damage to the trachea. I use a prong or an e-collar but I would never put one of those on a puppy!
 

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I would not use any type of slip collar on a puppy. Puppies tend to pull before they learn not to and it could damage their trachea. I would recommend a martingale as they can be adjusted to not choke but not come off over the head either. There are also Gentle Leaders which work well on puppies and help them learn a lot of things. I have trained 3 dogs on Gentle Leaders as pups and think they are great. As the dog gets older I switch to a martingale for rally training but leave the fur savers on their necks to hang their tags on when they are not active.
 

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No, it's not the norm.

I would NOT wait until the first class, because some places requrie certain training tools, and if you do not want to use one and are required to, you are probably going to have to eat the money you paid for class.

You definitely need to go watch a puppy class before enrolling...JMHO

Dante didn't wear anything until novice class,and I would never use a "slip chain" aka choke chain. Puppy was VERY positive based with only mild verbal corrections and lots of praise, rewards, etc. It was very obedience focused, and we accomplished all this on flat collars. Every dog in class.
 

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I've always worried, especially with smaller dogs, about the degree of pressure that the Gentle Leader/Halti-style "collars" put on the cervical spine.

While injury can certainly be caused by *any* training tool misused, it just strikes me that on a smaller dog, if it flips around, lunges, etc... there's almost a whiplash effect taking place there.

I have used, with some degree of success, a Gentle Leader on a 110 lb adult Rott mix. I was forced [and I do very much mean forced :D ] to admit that it was rather effective at stopping the dog's pulling on walks. It was a good quick fix while we worked on training a heel.

Unfortunately, I found the downside with that particular dog was that he also had other issues, that demanded the ability to administer leash corrections, something that simply could not be done on a Gentle Leader.

[I've gotten entirely off topic now, haven't I? :D ]

A martingale is a great choice of flat-style collar on a young dog. They were originally designed for sight hound breeds, who naturally have wider necks than skulls, and easily back out of collars. That same design can be a very nice reassurance with a young pup in a situation like a group OB class.

To make this post even longer... I will confess that I am not a huge fan of group OB for puppies. I don't find them fair to the dog.

You're taking a very young, very immature dog that arguably has a very tenuous bond with it's people, and still looks to other dogs as pack-mates more than humans, into a situation where he is surrounded by other dogs.

It is confusing, a busy, and very distracting to a young puppy who has a infinitesimally small attention span to begin with. And then you're asking him to learn.

I look at it a bit like human education [no, I'm not saying children and puppies are the same, or should be treated as such in every respect... just using a convenient analogy]...

Ideally, parents begin reading with their children, and teaching the foundations for literacy, color and number awareness, the "Alphabet Song" etc, years before a child ever enters Kindergarten. Those children excel when they have a solid foundation before being placed in a group environment.

The kids who are trying to learn things for the first time, while competing with other kids for attention from the teacher, being distracted by the new environment, the social aspects, etc... tend not to perform as well to their more prepared peers.

Group obedience lessons are fantastic ways to introduce distractions to your training, get out and meet other dogs owners, provide new social experiences [I'm not referring to letting your puppy actually *play* with the other dogs, but learn to be *calm* around other dogs], and polish things that perhaps you struggled with individually.

With all that said, if a puppy class is taught in a positive manner [no negative reinforcement], the classes themselves are not too long, and the trainer enforce basic rules like not allowing the puppies to turn it into the 2011 Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet... no *harm* comes from it, and it can be a fun way to get out and do things with your dog.

Chances are, the puppy will not learn much in class, and if you enter it with that understanding, and focus on your OWN learning, that you can apply in a quieter, calmer environment? It's probably a worthwhile investment.

Just don't let someone bully you into doing things you aren't comfortable doing with your pup [like correcting it], because "responsible pet owners train their puppies".

Why yes. Yes they do. But we need to have realistic expectations of our dogs, and those expectations change dramatically based on situational factors- especially with puppies. You're a fantastic dog owner for just wanting to train your pup.
 

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Our puppy class was almost entirely off leash. Not only were corrective collars not required, they wouldn't have been allowed. Even if they'd been allowed it would have been moot since there was no leash attached. The only time we put leashes on was when we were specifically teaching them to walk on leash! Or if someone had trouble keeping their puppy's attention they could attach the leash and use it as a drag line, stepping on it to keep their puppy from wandering off. The whole point was to learn how to engage our puppies and make it fun, even with the distraction of all the other puppies in class. Corrections can come later.
 
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Our puppy/socalization/handling/basic position class, or whatever you want to call it was mostly off leash as well.

I used a flat collar on Stark but it was taken off during free puppy play time.

There was no corrections for the puppies, only re-direction and rewards so there was really no need for a collar other than to keep your puppy close to you. Usually we would stand on the end of the 6' lead and then use our voice, treats, etc. to get our puppies attention/focus.
 
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Discussion Starter #14
All,
Many thanks for such well-reasoned responses. I'm definitely going to talk to the trainer personally prior to my decision to take this class, and will put this off until I can watch it so I feel completely comfortable with what we are getting into.
 

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Dobby (my 10 week old) just attended our first puppy class last night. No slip collar. She actually addressed no slip collar or chain prior to our arrival.

All very positive experiences for puppy. I liked it because I have never taken a pup to puppy class and didn't know what to expect. It was educational for owners and a positive experience for pups. Lots of treats, owner engagement and eye contact, and very basic OB. How to teach a sit with treat, a down, and back out to a stand.....all leading with treats at the end of their nose. AND learning their name.

She did have a halti or gentle leader on the list and I couldn't imagine it on a puppy this young until I observed a beautiful blue Australian Shep. on one. Very gentle and effective as he was jumping off the walls.

Looking forward to next week even though it is an hour drive.
 

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My first puppy class was with Jenna at ten weeks old. I was expecting puppies. She TOLD me her definition of a puppy was up to five months old. Hmmm.

Three dogs were in the class, a wired border collie, an out of control husky, and a crazy yellow lab -- all at least 12 months old.

The yellow lab slipped its flat collar and went for Jenna TWICE in the first class!

I wished that lady required a slip collar of some sort.

I prefer a martingale to a choker. The martingale is a great collar, not a correction collar, but for safety, it will keep the dog from slipping the collar. There is NOTHING worse than looking on helplessly while your puppy is running in and out of traffic.
 

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I started puppy training Nyxie on a flat collar and lots of treats. Took her to one obedience class that required pinch collars on every dog and that was enough for me to drop out. I prefer flat collars or martingale collars on young dogs. Later on I will move to pinch collars or headcollars if needed.
 

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Dobby (my 10 week old) just attended our first puppy class last night. No slip collar. She actually addressed no slip collar or chain prior to our arrival.

All very positive experiences for puppy. I liked it because I have never taken a pup to puppy class and didn't know what to expect. It was educational for owners and a positive experience for pups. Lots of treats, owner engagement and eye contact, and very basic OB. How to teach a sit with treat, a down, and back out to a stand.....all leading with treats at the end of their nose. AND learning their name.

She did have a halti or gentle leader on the list and I couldn't imagine it on a puppy this young until I observed a beautiful blue Australian Shep. on one. Very gentle and effective as he was jumping off the walls.

Looking forward to next week even though it is an hour drive.
Congratulations. It sounds like you found a good class. All the things you describe are what we teach in puppy classes here.
 
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