News & Blog

Puppy School is 21 years old!

Founder and Director, Gwen Bailey, tells us about the story of Puppy School and how it became the UK’s leading network of positive puppy trainers.

21 Year Anniversary PS Logo Screenshot
  • Gwen Bailey, behaviourist and founder of Puppy SchoolGwen Bailey with her Vizsla dogs

Twenty six years ago, I was working full time as an animal behaviourist for a large well known animal rescue charity.  I was the first person ever to do such work for a rescue, trying to piece back together young dogs that had not made it with their first owners, or helping to make sure that those dogs with issues went into the right homes and stayed there.  The work wasn’t easy, especially because positive methods of training and behaviour control were still in their infancy, and, no matter how hard we worked, there were always more on the waiting list ready to replace the ones we successfully rehomed. 

 

  • Perfect Puppy (3rd Edition) Full Book CoverNew edition of the Perfect Puppy book by Gwen Bailey

Eventually I realised things were never really going to change until we could reach owners while their puppies were really young and easy to train, and owners were still keen to get things right.  So I started running puppy classes on a Sunday morning and that lead me to writing a book called ‘The Perfect Puppy’.  While the book was successful around the world, amazingly still in print 28 years later and revised for the 3rd edition which will be published in August 2024, I realised there was a desperate need to reach more people with practical help, so I left my job and set out to form a network of people who could run puppy training classes in their area and, between us, we could be available for owners all around the UK.  At the time, positive puppy trainers were hard to come by and I made it my mission to change that. 

Twenty one years later, we are now a family of about 120 positive trainers, and have collectively helped over 100,000 puppies and their owners to a better understanding of positive ways to educate their puppies.   Even better, the climate of training has changed and now most trainers have ditched aversive methods and turned to reward-based training instead. 

There are still a few clinging to their old fashioned beliefs but they are slowly dying out in favour of a new breed of science-based trainers and behaviourists who want to use only positive methods for both animal and owners.

 

 

  • Tutors chatting as a group outdoorsChatting after puppy training class

During those twenty one years, puppies haven’t changed that much inside, although owners are now choosing many more crossbreds, especially poodle crosses in the hope they will be more hypoallergenic, a better size for their household, and more healthy.  While this isn’t always the case, at least there has been a change from the closed stud books of the inbred pedigree world, and the show breeders are on notice to change what they do or their buyers will look elsewhere.  Unfortunately, good puppies are hard to find and unscrupulous breeders are currently filling the void, but my hope is that more breeders will come forward and breed good pet puppies in future.

  • Puppy Class with Tutor Talking to owners and Retriever puppy sat in frontExplaining an exercise during a training class
  • Tutor welcoming a Viszla puppy to class with ownersA friendly welcome into puppy class

Twenty one years on, and after lots of hard work, we now have a Puppy School puppy class going on somewhere around the UK every night of the week and on weekends.  To say that I’m proud of my puppy tutors and their associates, not to mention their assistants, is an understatement.  Their genuine love of puppies and their care for their families are what makes our classes outstanding.  We have a thorough teaching programme for new trainees, a system for monitoring all classes, and great continued education opportunities for all.  Since members of our Puppy School family are so diverse in their occupations, from veterinary nurses to accountants, we also have a massive pool of knowledge to draw from so that no question ever goes unanswered. 

Puppy School has been an incredible journey for the past 21 years, bringing light and love to so many, both human and animal, and our task now is to make sure it thrives and develops further for the next 20 years and beyond so it can continue it’s amazing work. 

Find your nearest Puppy School

Find your nearest Puppy School here and begin your journey with us!

Koda

Testimonials

What Clients say
about Puppy School

  • “Big compliments to Claire! The way she just understands the dogs and being able to explain that has been a game changer. Her knowledge and expertise makes her a great puppy/dog trainer. I am already recommending Claire to everyone! She loves what she does and that shows. Would recommend to everyone with a puppy :)”
    —   Emily
  • “It’s a fantastic course. The small sizes also really allow for personal tailoring if the exercise to suit my puppy. Neal made me so at ease when I struggled with something and there was never a I time I felt embarrassed to ask him to reexplain something I was struggling with.”
    —   Daniel
  • “Tammy was a great tutor, so much so that we have already booked onto SuperPup. She always had time after class if we had any questions or to discuss things not covered in class.”
    —   Melanie
  • “Alice was absolutely lovely and helped us with some issues that weren't covered in the syllabus, she was so knowledgeable about everything puppy behaviours and she taught the class well. The venue was great, there was plenty of space for each puppy and for exercises without it being too big and scary. Nelly loved attending puppy school and we learnt so much about dog training and behaviour.”
    —   Mandy
  • “Absolutely loved it, learnt so much and Crunchie loved it to. Will miss it so will hopefully book on to the next stage”
    —   Laura