For the past year, Thursday nights at Animal Hospital of North Asheville have been filled with the sounds of puppies, families, laughter, and play. Puppy Preschool has been the place to be. Over the past year, our Puppy Preschool has grown, changed and developed into a special place for puppies and their families to socialize and learn.
Our first Preschool session had three wonderful puppies in attendance: Shadow, Zoe May and Brinkley. Since then we have had over 80 puppies and their families join us. These first families and all of the families that have joined us since have helped shape the lives of our preschoolers and mold Puppy Preschool into what it is today. Whether the families and the puppies were there for only one class or for 8 classes, they were an important part of the experience. We thank you for joining us.
Our goal in the Puppy Socialization classes is to strengthen the bond and understanding between families and their puppy. We have also helped puppies form healthy socialization skills using positive activities aimed at encouraging investigation, interaction, stimulating the senses and building confidence.
The period between 3-16 weeks of age is a very special time for young puppies. During this period, they are learning from their experiences and forming lasting social behaviors. They also go through a fear imprinting stage during which it is critical to have many positive experiences with many different exposures to new people, sights, smells and sounds. These positive experiences will help the dog later in life to be more comfortable and relaxed in a variety of new situations. Sadly, many unsocialized dogs are relinquished by their families and are very hard to adopt out. For any dog, it is essential to get them used to different types of people, animals, sights, sounds, grooming and physical handling that will be part of their daily life. Proper socialization at a young age is essential for a well-adjusted, well behaved canine citizen.
Through the interactions during the Preschool sessions, the puppies get to explore and build confidence around new people and other puppies. Some of the puppies walk through the door and announce that they are here; they are not the least bit shy or hesitant. They seem to love everyone and know that everyone has come to see them. Most puppies, especially at their first session, are more reserved, shy, or overwhelmed. By allowing them to have space and watch from a distance or while seated on a lap, they slowly build up the willingness to explore. Supervised play with interruptions allows puppies to learn appropriate interactions. Some puppies prefer to sit on a lap until another puppy is not looking and sneak a sniff or run to another lap to sit on. As each session goes by, we get to see changes and social development. Many of the puppies that are shy in the beginning are in the center of the play sessions by the time they graduate at 16 weeks old. Other puppies prefer to stay around the edges of the group, play one on one with their new best buddy or socialize with the families they have met during the sessions.
Our Preschoolers’ families are truly the best! They are kind, encouraging, patient and love to interact with the puppies. They spend time with all the puppies, welcoming them into each class. During the early sessions of preschool, there were two very shy puppies that hid under a chair and watched, only venturing out to pick up a stuffed toy and retreat to the safety of the chair. As the classes went along, they started to move from under the chair to in front of the chair, to slowly approaching new people, to finally playing. Watching the progress of these puppies was gratifying, but watching all the families in the sessions cheer them on, seeing the kindness they showed, and the patience they showed when the puppies approached touched our hearts. This is what we see in every class. We cherish our puppy families!
Our Preschoolers- we love them! Watching them develop from week to week is one of the best parts of the class. It is so much fun watching personalities form, interactions between the puppies and new friendships bloom. Outside of the session, it is great to see that the puppies love coming to visit AHNA. The whole hospital embraces the puppies and their families. Friday mornings a common question is "How was puppy class?" It is exciting to being able to tell about the newest addition, how much a puppy has grown, who played with who and the moments of accomplishments that we get to see, like a puppy showing off a sit, or a puppy who played more this week and much more. The bond that has been formed is incredible. Whether the puppies are still in session or after they graduate, we are blessed to be able to share and have a positive experience with them.
Here are a few words from some of our preschoolers's families.
All of us, but especially Frank, have enjoyed attending puppy pre-school on Thursday evenings. Frank has met a variety of puppies of all breeds & sizes but enjoys playing with Draper best. The training tips by Evelyn & staff have been informative and not too complicated.
Thank you for this great experience.
Frank, Eveline, Pat and Joe
We so appreciated the offering of this class for both Scarlett and Baxter. The socialization has proved invaluable for them. It was amazing to watch the transition from the first to the last class as far as their confidence.
I liked the fact that all puppies where watched carefully and removed from stressful situations. Shy puppies were not pressed beyond their comfort level.
Taffitu LOVED Puppy Preschool!!!!!! She was so excited to play with her new friends and to learn new skills. She was really hoping she would flunk so she could continue going to the classes!!! The entire experience was positive and well run. It helped make me a better new puppy mom also.
Martha Ann Rice
Rella gets along so well with every dog she meets. I'm sure that being in puppy preschool really helped her be a dog with social graces.
Brinkley still loves to come to Animal Hospital of North Asheville because of his wonderful time in puppy class. He learned how to love all other dogs and interact appropriately. He loves to play. Thank you Animal Hospital of North Asheville for sponsoring this class; it was definitely a highlight of Brinkley's and our life.
Poppy: I came to my first class very shy and scared. I sat in the corner the whole first class. By the end, I was bouncing around playing with everyone. Preschool taught me that other dogs are fun! Puppy preschool success!
My name is Maya and I am now 8 months old. I was very timid when I attended puppy preschool and spent most of my time under the chairs. But I am much braver now and I am not scared of other dogs any more. I even like big dogs better than little ones. I love the puppy preschool because it was the first thing I did to get over being scared. I hope you continue to hold school because I know there are other scared puppies that need your love.
Leia, one of our Puppy Preschool graduates, is all grown up!
We would like to add our deep appreciation to staff members Dot and Evelyn who have worked so hard to develop our outstanding AHNA Puppy Preschool and to Tye, Kiri and Carla who have always helped as needed. These staff members give of themselves each Thursday night and care about every single puppy as if it were their own. Dot and Evelyn have used their amazing knowledge, writing skills, and creativity to develop a program that is second to none. We are thrilled that more than 80 of our puppy patients have gotten off to a great start with socialization and their families have acquired amazing knowledge that will benefit their puppies and strengthen the bond they have with their puppies as they grow. It is fun for all of us, too, because we really enjoy getting to see the puppies play!
The Doctors and Staff of Animal Hospital of North Asheville