top of page

Diamonds in the Ruff

How early can my puppy begin classes?

As early as your veterinarian gives the okay!


Until your pup has finished their vaccination series at about 4 months, don't put them on the ground in public places outside of your fenced yard.  Parvo lives in the ground unaffected by weather.  Even if they meet no sick dogs in person, the virus those dogs shed are still in the park. You can socialize your pup by taking them for car rides, carry them around in new places, invite family & visitors to your house to meet your puppy, or take the pup with you to their homes to experience new places.  Don't seek out new dog friends unless you know for certain they are safe, fully vaccinated and healthy, and don't frequent dog parks or day care. 


And you can bring them to puppy class where every dog is required to have proof of vaccinations and seen by a vet to be allowed on the premises.

Read the position statement on early puppy socialization from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior here.

What vaccinations does my puppy need to start class?  We leave the advice of what and how many vaccinations up to the expertise of your veterinarian.  How many will depend on when your puppy started his vaccination series.  Most breeders give a first vaccination before puppies come home.  Your vet can't technically 'count' a vaccine that wasn't given by a licensed vet, so may not count the first one if the breeder did it themselves.  Be sure to take your pup's health record with you to your first well-puppy visit.  Most vets want the puppies to have at least 2 vaccinations before attending, and some prefer 3.  If yours is a breed that requires extra and early socialization, your veterinarian may weigh the lower risk of starting class with fewer vaccines against the higher likelihood of future behavior issues if the need for essential social exposure isn't met during the critical developmental period aren't met.


He does not have to have "all his shots" to attend.  He does need to be adequately protected and seen by a veterinarian to assure he is healthy.  When discussing the start date with your vet, remember that week one orientation is people training, pups stay home.  Your puppy won't actually be in the classroom around other pups until week 2.  Download and print the VETERINARY PERMISSION SLIP and take it with you to your next appointment.

Cavi puppy Gracie.jpg

Let's get started shaping your puppy's future:


1. Before your vet gives the okay to begin and signs your vet permission slip you may schedule private lessons to help you get off to a good start.   Visit the Behavior FAQ section for hundreds of free articles which includes a large puppy section on everything from mouthing and biting to house training.  


2. Resources for new puppy owners - This page will give you information to get you off on the right paw with strategies for early socialization and confidence building and links for videos and a great suggested reading list.


3. Visit the Class Schedule page and Sign up for class!  Puppy Preschool or Puppy Kindergarten?   On average, puppies tend to be 12-18 weeks in Preschool and 16-20 weeks in Kindergarten.  Preschool is specifically for the youngest pups, 4 1/2 months and under, but you may select Kindergarten if the Preschool is full, or if your schedule won't allow Mondays.  It's the same class curriculum. 


Make your well-puppy check-up appointment as early as possible.  Many clinics are booked out, so don't wait!

Please talk to your veterinarian and get a timeline of when they will give permission to attend and then reserve your spot.  Don't wait until the last minute to get your vet's okay.  If you hold a spot and then find you can't attend, it's not fair to other puppy students who couldn't get in because the class was full!

Can I register my puppy even before I bring them home from the breeder's? 

Yes, you may register and pay to reserve a spot in class as soon as your puppy purchase is confirmed.  If your vet can't sign off on your vet permission slip or your puppy purchase falls through, please let us know right away!  As long as it isn't too late to fill your spot, we will refund or transfer you to the following month at no charge.  (If you wait until the last minute to postpone and we end up with an empty seat in the classroom, there would be a $75 transfer fee.  No refunds for no-shows.)


Contact your regular vet to schedule your first well-puppy visit so your appointment is scheduled before your pup comes home. 

Be sure to verify what vaccinations will be given by the breeder and what date they were given. 

Print off the Vet Permission Slip and take it with you to your first appointment.   You will want to discuss your puppy's vaccination schedule and at what point they will sign the slip.  (Since puppies stay home on the first orientation night, you have until week 2, the first week with all the puppies, to turn in your vet slip.)  If for any reason your vet cannot sign your slip, you may attend without your pup or be transferred to the next available month.  When this happens with multiple registrations, it can make a mess of class numbers AND there may not be a spot available in the following month, which might mean another month's delay.  Be sure to speak with your veterinarian at your first well-puppy check-up - or before!  Please, don't put it off until right before class begins. 


At what age do veterinarians generally give the okay to begin a group class?  On average, most vets okay puppies to begin class between 11-14 weeks of age.  Occasionally sooner and sometimes later, depending on their vaccination schedule and whether they discover parasites or other health issues that would pose a risk to other puppies in class.  This is why all dogs registered must be seen by a veterinarian and be up to date on their vaccinations to ensure that all dogs who enter the building are healthy.  It is also why we discourage visiting dog parks where the health of dogs is unknown.  A multitude of viruses and parasites can live in the ground where unhealthy dogs may have defecated and played.

Check out this great webpage:  How to Socialize a Puppy With Other Dogs, Humans, Sounds and Places  

Is your puppy too young or your vet hasn't signed off to begin classes? 
Do you need help now,
before classes start?
We can help! 

Click here for information about Private lessons 



OOPS!  I waited too long and Preschool is full. 
Can I still start now in the Puppy Kindergarten class?  or should I wait?

The Preschool and Kindergarten classes are identical in curriculum.  The only difference

is the maximum age of the puppies.  If Preschool is full or the day of the week doesn't

work for you, enroll your younger pup in the Puppy Kindergarten.

If all the puppy classes are full, register for the next available month and ask to be put on a waiting list for the class you wanted.  


Enroll as an auditor without your dog.  Limited auditor spots are available.  Attend classes without your dog and practice at home.  (If a spot opens up, you may still be able to bring your dog.)  Most of the class experience is training you how to train your dog and the real training happens at home anyway.  You will learn a lot by watching other students without the distraction of your dog.  You will receive all class materials and can ask questions like all the other students.  This is a perfect solution for those whose puppies have not been given veterinary clearance to attend.  You can learn in class and your puppy will learn his lessons at home.


I want to enroll my older dog in class, too.  Can he attend puppy class with us?  Older dogs are not admitted in the puppy classes, but we also offer a Beginning all ages class.  We open age groups on days/times that might have low enrollment and to give families with new pups and adult dogs a place to bring both to the same class to learn together.


Recommended Reading

Puppy Start Right

- Kenneth & Debbie Martin


Life Skills for Puppies

- Zulch & Mills

I have two puppies.  Should they attend the same class? 

Reality is, they live together so they will need to work in each other's presence in "real life" so it's fine to enroll them in the same class ...


  • they are extremely distracted by each other and would be totally unable to focus on the family member working with them.

  • or if they are co-dependent (can't function in each other's absence) and need to learn to bond with you more than each other.

  • You would be the only person handling two pups.  One designated handler per dog required.

See this article for more information on "Living with Littermates"


PLEASE NOTE:  If you are reserving multiple spots in the same class, pre-payment is required.  If you must cancel, your tuition is not refundable unless we are notified early enough that we can fill those spots.

bottom of page