Short videos, easy instructions make Puppr an ideal app to train your dog

This week for App Friday we review Puppr, a highly downloaded and lauded dog training app that helps pet parents train their dogs in basic obedience and commands. Rated 4.7/5 on the Google Play Store, the app is useful for first-time parents and seasoned dog butlers, alike.
26 CLAPS
0

Floppy ears, eyes that are too big for their heads, and squishy toe bean paws that smell like Cheetos; there’s no denying the fact that puppies are an instant serotonin boost.

Behind the cameras though, puppies are hell raisers—ask any pet parent what it takes to nurture and bring up a dog.

Like human children, puppies too need constant care, communication, and, most importantly, discipline.

Dogs, by their very nature, are highly intelligent beings; in fact, there’s proven evidence that says dogs can read micro-facial expressions, understand tones and inflections, and even discern body language better than humans. They pick up behaviours quickly, just like a child would—which is why it’s important to inculcate good habits right from the beginning.

Dog behaviourists and trainers say the right age to train a puppy is when they’re as little as a month old, at least when it comes to basic obedience and commands.

Just like you’d send a kid to a school, it’s important to enlist the help of professionals (who strictly only practice positive reinforcement training or balanced training) when it comes to training puppers or dogs.

However, in light of COVID-19 and social distancing norms, the industry has changed, and, today, there are apps that can help give you some basic understanding of the training process you can follow.

With over one lakh downloads and a 4.7 star rating out of 5 on the Google Play Store, Puppr is one of the most downloaded and well-received apps in the pet care category.

Puppr is a self-training app that helps pet parents teach their animal children basic manners, commands, and some tricks to help keep their noggins busy.

Free to download, the app comes with a premium, paid version—but does provide access to a lot of free training modules.

About the app

Puppr offers several features and services, including the ability to connect Live with a professional trainer via chat, in case you need any help troubleshooting.

As soon as you sign in, you land on the training page, which contains several modules, such as new dog training, basics, silly etc. These lessons cover basic training for puppies, as well as adult dogs, such as crate training, leash walking, potty training; and basic commands like sit, fetch, stay, come, leave it, etc.

Each training session—for example, the ‘down’ command— shows pet parents the level of difficulty and materials needed (such as treats, or grooming products in case the session is about grooming). Before getting into the training, there’s always a small explainer on why the training is important, which helps you gauge if it is something you want your dog to be learning at all.

Next, come the “steps”.

Puppr lists all the steps you need to follow to teach the command, including the verbal cue you need to say, with short, auto-played videos that demonstrate them. The text and the video snippets make it really easy to understand what you’re going to be doing, and leave little room for ambiguity.

At the end of each training session, there’s a nifty “tips” section that offers alternate ways you can use to train, in case the ones laid out don’t work for your dog.

Apart from training modules, there’s a nice social media-like feed where you can participate in “challenges”, such as posting a picture of your pupper doing the “sit” command. There’s also a shopping page where you can buy training treats, equipment, accessories etc— but that’s not too useful in India since the shop redirects you to the Amazon US app. However, you can still use the page to get an idea of things you might need for the training.

Verdict

I tested the app with my dog, Rosey, and our community dog, Lisa.

While Rosey had been trained in basic obedience when she was a puppy herself (she’s two years old now), Lisa, a 5-year-old Indie hadn’t been. Both are extremely ‘food motivated/driven’ — terms used to describe dogs that can be bribed with treats to follow and learn a command with enough reinforcements.

Using just the steps laid out on the app, and not the tricks trainers and behaviourists taught me while I’d trained Rosey, I was able to teach Lisa ‘sit’, ‘shake hands’, and ‘come.’

The videos were really useful, and the “tips” section helped me change tact when I realised I wasn’t getting anywhere on some commands, especially with Rosey who was occasionally confused about why she was being trained again, after a gap of nearly a year.

Rosey was able to master the “spin” and “roll over” in just two days, (but then again, she’s a highly intelligent, clever dog (proud dog mother vibes) who will do anything for food.)

Puppr is mainly meant for dogs that have a high food drive, since it uses ‘treats’ for almost all training modules. A handful of the lessons on the app are toy-driven, where dogs who are possessive of their toys or just outright crazy for them, can be taught a trick or two.

The problem is not all dogs are motivated by food, care too much for toys, or even want to indulge you—I know because I’ve parented three dogs with vastly different personalities. One of my dogs—our oldest—never really cared for training, food, or toys, as long as she got her quota of belly rubs in a day.

Canine behaviourists and trainers are clued into behaviours like that, and they usually know how to troubleshoot. Puppr falls short there. If your dog isn’t motivated by food, attention, or toys, training could be harder than it’s supposed to be, especially if you don’t have a trainer to modify the approach.

Using the “talk to a trainer” option did not work for me in India, and neither did the shopping page — but again, it did help me understand the tools I’d need for my dogs. For a first-time parent, this could certainly be quite useful.

There’s much to appreciate about the app itself—the UI/UX is minimalistic, clean, and easy to understand. Despite the auto-play videos, the app ran smoothly, without glitches.

The FAQ section gives you a really great overview of the journey of training your dog, and the social page is a nice little motivator too.

All in all, while it does not replace the expertise a trainer would’ve brought with them to training sessions, Puppr is a great jumping-off point to get yourself and your dog started on training— definitely, a must-download in our books.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti