Puppy Life Skills FAQ’s
Who is Ruff?
Holley Mayhew - over 15 years experience living with and training dogs from all
walks of life; from rescue dogs, pet dogs to service dogs. I am passionate about
helping owners with their dogs and specialise in puppy training.
What will we learn?
Young dogs attending will learn impulse control around other dogs and basic obedience. Dogs will
also learn socialisation skills, manners and desirable behaviours around other dogs and people.
Classes can be tailored to suit individuals therefore if you have a suggestion on something you’d like
to work on please come and speak to me. Examples of exercises: loose lead walking, attention to
name, sit, wait, leave it, down, hand targets, handling, grooming, preparing for the vet’s/groomer’s,
recall, distraction training, confidence building, meeting other puppies and people and general life
skills. I welcome any suggestions if you think of anything in particular.
Do I need any experience?
Owners do not need prior training experience however as responsible owners you
are expected to put training efforts into your puppy in order to make them a well rounded, socialised dog.
What is Positive Reinforcement Training?
Other names include reward based training or force-free training. If you give your dog a reward
(praise, play, food, toys, etc.) when he responds to you, then that behaviour is likely to be
repeated. Your dog learns that good things happen to him when he does the thing you like,
especially if your dog has choices to make their own decisions and we guide them on the correct
What is Impulse Control?
Impulse control is self-control for your dog. Teaching your dog to have self-control
can be useful in many situations. It helps your dog to wait patiently for things that
they really want. It can also help dogs learn to stay calm when exciting things
happen; such as waiting at a door/waiting to get out of the car with you, waiting for
a treat or not snatching food.
What is a Clicker?
A ‘marker’ - marking what we really like and when we can get that reward to the dog to tell him “Good job!” In a perfect world, we’d make food appear in front of their face but we bridge using the clicker from ‘the thing that they did’ to ‘the time the reward gets to their face’. Divers had used it before to say “you’re in the right spot” and it’s the same as clicking a Dolphin for spinning in mid air. Clickers are not necessary in class however if you’d wish to bring one or learn how to train with one I would be happy to assist.
Should I feed my dog before a training class?
I would advise to feed your dog as normal if they are food motivated. If they are a picky/fussy eater or do not always finish their meals, try feeding less than normal. Be cautious when you feed your dog and when you travel with your dog in the car, ideally dogs shouldn’t eat meals too close prior to being in a car to prevent stomach twisting/bloat type problems.
Should I exercise my dog before a training class?
Please try not to use puppy class as a way to exhaust/tire your dog out. Although classes will mentally tire your puppy, especially at the beginning, your puppy should also have physical stimulation in the form of walking/running/playtime etc. This means please do routinely exercise your dog as normal – some people find it helps get some initial energy out of their puppy meaning they can concentrate more at class. It all depends on the puppy that you have; some are more high energy than others. Know your puppy.
What time should I arrive for class?
You are welcome to arrive slightly earlier however on the first week of training you will not be granted access inside the village hall until we are ready to begin (I will pop my head outside and call you in). On the remaining weeks, please do come in and sit in the same place unless told otherwise. Please try not to be late as this can cause dogs to become unsettled once inside.
Please toilet your dog’s outside and be mindful to give other dogs space.
Can I bring children along?
Children are welcome providing they do not cause too much of a distraction for you as a handler or your dog whilst learning. Depending on maturity and ability to handle, children may handle their dog in class or share this responsibility with an adult in the safety of the village hall. I do encourage children to learn about dog behaviour and believe this should be done in a safe, managed environment.
What do I need to bring to class?
You will need to bring yourself and your dog. A spectator is fine should you wish to bring someone along or have someone to swap handling with. You will need to bring plenty of treats and something suitable to keep them in, like a treat pouch. Your dog (by law) must be wearing a collar and tag (with your details on) and be on a secure flat lead on arrival. You will need to bring your own poo bags and most importantly, a positive attitude!
What happens if I cannot attend a class?
If you cannot attend please just message/call to let me know so I can set up the hall accordingly. It is OK for you to miss a class and you can catch up but ideally these sessions will be beneficial to your puppy.
Will I be outside?
We will be inside unless mentioned otherwise.
Toilets / fire exits / kitchen
Toilets on site and fire exit to the back of the hall, leading outside. There is also a kitchen should anyone require it for anything.
What treats should I bring for my dog?
Ideally their favourite treat in the world! Many people use cheese, hot dog sausage or cut up pieces of cooked liver. If your dog is happy to work for less high value kibble based food then this is fine. A variety of treats mixed together is always a good idea.
How should I dress for class?
Please dress comfortably in something you are relaxed in, ideally nothing that flaps about too much incase this causes a distraction. I want you to be relaxed and comfortable inside!
What to do on arrival?
On arrival (first week only) please wait outside the village hall until you are called in. There is a patch of grass nearby where you can encourage your dogs to sniff around and ideally toilet before entering. Please try not to stand by other handlers with their dogs while outside and give each dog space to take in the environment without having to get tangled up with others. Dogs will have plenty of chances to socialise inside the village hall. Please never leave your dog unattended in your vehicle at any point. Once the first week has been, please enter the village hall yourself, you do not need to wait to be called in anymore.
What happens if my dog has an accident / incident at class?
Dogs will be seen to in the instance of whatever has happened to and checked over to make sure their needs are met whether this is medically or emotionally. First aid may be given where possible in the event of an incident however contact with your dog’s vet may be encouraged also. In terms of accidents inside the village hall (toilets!), this is understandable sometimes due to a puppy getting used to the new environment. The accident will be simply cleaned up and your puppy will not be scolded, nor should you feel embarrassed or worried it has happened.
Will my dog be let off the lead in class?
Dogs will not be let off the lead in class unless there is a particular exercise being taught in where your dog will be safely managed off lead in the safety of the hall.
Will my dog play/interact with other dogs?
Classes aren’t designed for just playtime however there will be opportunities as the weeks go on for the dogs to greet one another and have fun.
Can I give treats to other dogs?
Please refrain from giving treats to other dogs unless you have asked permission from the other dog’s handler. Some dogs have sensitive stomachs or are on special diets and this should always be taken into consideration.
What if my dog is not motivated by food?
Please bring a toy instead (not one that makes a noise). Like us, dogs find different things motivating and are willing to learn for the right motivation, as an owner it is up to you to gain an understanding of this as the weeks go on and find what your dog loves to work for.
Who can handle my dog in class?
Ideally an adult however I will allow mature children to have a go under supervision from the adult responsible. I believe children should be encouraged to understand and learn about their dog’s behaviour in a safe environment. From time to time I may handle your dog for you; this may be to show you or your dog a specific exercise or technique.
Where can my dog go to the toilet?
Dogs are to be encouraged to toilet outside of the hall. If dogs are of a young age, regular toilet breaks will be given and if you notice your dog may need the toilet, please give them the opportunity and excuse yourself from the class.
What sort of collar and lead should my dog wear?
All dogs need to be in a flat nylon type collar with an identity tag attached. Leads should also be flat and handheld. Choke/prong/chain collars will not be accepted and neither will chain or flexi-leads. If your dog wears a harness this is fine, however please remember by law they should also be wearing a collar with an I.D tag if in a public place.
Why are classes small?
Classes are kept to a maximum of 5/6 to ensure dogs and owners are given a quality amount of time and space to learn without creating an overwhelming environment. Dogs learn better if they can concentrate therefore I try to minimise distractions by having small, focussed classes.
Like with most things in life, the more time and energy spent doing a particular activity, the better you may become at it. This also goes for training our dogs. Coming to class once a week will help to improve your dog in some aspects, however practising taught exercises daily will increase your dog’s confidence and your training ability.
I encourage you to ‘Like’ the Ruff Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ruffdogtrainingwelfare/
There is also a group for all my clients to be a part of and I would really love for you to join us:
The group will be a place for us to chat about any problems, go over anything you’re not sure about, talk to one another and advise you on anything you may be having difficulty with. Any pictures taken by myself in my classes would go into your group and if anyone objects to a picture taken of themselves or their dog then please don’t hesitate to let me know. I aim to be as supportive as I can for you throughout the 6 week course so I encourage you to contact me should you need advice or aren’t sure about something.
do’s & don’ts…
DO ensure your dog is vaccinated as you deem necessary and you are happy to have your dog around other dogs in an enclosed area
DO NOT let your dog off-lead unless instructed otherwise
DO NOT leave your dog unattended in a vehicle
DO clean up after your dog if he/she goes to the toilet
DO NOT bring your dog to class if he/she is in poor health
DO be friendly to others and give other people/dogs space & respect
DO check with others before taking/posting any pictures to social media
DO report back to me if you are unhappy with anything
DO let me know if you can’t make class one week
DO relax, bring a positive attitude and have fun!
Ruff – Training & Welfare offers a variety of dog training and group services and operates on fair, kind and effective training methods – www.ruff-dogs.co.uk