5 Lessons from Puppy Training

My partner and I recently rescued a sweet puppy who we eventually named Willow (It took about a week to come to that consensus). She was three months old and cute as can be! Like most any puppy, she spent most of her time being adorable, sleeping, and misbehaving. I have never met a dog who loves rocks and sticks more than Willow! When she would find a new rock or stick, our go to was to snap a picture not correct the behavior, so clearly we could not be trusted to be responsible to train her by ourselves. we decided that puppy class was the right fit for us. The following is a list of five lessons in no particular order from puppy class that are helpful reminders for all instructors:

1. Consistency Matters

I am not sure if I need to expand on this because I think we all know that this is true in the classroom but having a puppy has made it even more abundantly clear the need for consistent messaging. If we don’t say and do things in the same way then Willow is lost just like our students are if we fail to be consistent.

2. Praise/Feedback Must Be Timely

In puppy class, you teach a command and reward when the command is completed by acknowledging the behavior and rewarding it. You correct a misfire by redirecting the puppy to the behavior you desire and then reward and praise the when the desired outcome is completed. The praise/feedback or redirection must be timely to be effective just like feedback and grades for students must be timely to be effective.

3. Differentiate Instruction

When training a puppy you attach both a verbal command and a gesture to the desired behavior. You also scaffold more complex outcomes by building on more basic commands. Breaking ideas or lessons into more digestible pieces for students that can be built on to learn bigger concepts is important. We must also differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students by presenting information in a variety of ways.

4. Ask for Help

We could not have trained our puppy on our own due to our aforementioned affinity for rewarding bad behaviors. We needed the community of other dog owners and our dog trainer. Collaboration with others can only make us better teachers. We must discuss our shortcomings, our strengths, and ideas with others to benefit our students.

5. Have Fun

Puppies like students are a joy! Teaching and learning are fun!


2 thoughts on “5 Lessons from Puppy Training”

  1. Love it!
    I saw one of your great scaffolding ideas in action yesterday at the Center for Learning. I want to get your writing sheet that helps students expand upon and explain their topic sentences.
    The young lady talked about the fun she has in your class.


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