Advice on when to start training a puppy
Okay, so you’ve just gotten your new puppy, brought him home and settled him. Now he’s running around exploring his new surroundings and meeting the family. Cue plenty of oohs and aahs as this wonderful little creature works his magic.Then, the inevitable happens, the puppy squats down and leaves his first little puddle on your carpet. You probably start wondering when you can start training him, what to train, and how intensive that training should be.
You’re not alone in wondering when to start training a puppy, but many dog owners get this wrong. Most often, they start training too late and pace it incorrectly.
The fact is that puppies are most receptive to learning up to the age of 14 weeks. You will most likely have picked your puppy up from the breeder at 8 weeks, or you may have adopted your pup from a shelter in which case he’ll be at least 8 weeks old.
You now have a unique 6-week window in which to mold your dog’s future behavior and personality, and my advice to you is, don’t waste it.
However, this does not mean you should go in hard and heavy, put your puppy through boot camp and expect him to be performing tricks by the end of the week. Give the little fella a few days to settle in first!
In those first few days you should, however, get your puppy used to his crate as this will be an invaluable aid to housetraining.
Here’s a guide to when to start training a puppy, and the types of training you’ll want to give your puppy;
When to Start Training a Puppy: House Training
As mentioned above you can start crate training from day one, or if you prefer the paper method, lay out the papers and get him used to his toilet area.
However, formal house training should only start at about 10 weeks, when the puppy is used to his new surroundings and has developed better bladder control.
There are three basic methods of house training – the crate method, paper method, and the supervision method. Choose the one that best suits your situation, although, in reality, you may use a combination of the three.
Try to complete house training by the time your puppy reaches 12 weeks. You should be aware, though, that some breeds are more difficult to housebreak than others – Chihuahuas, for example, are notoriously difficult.
When to Start Training a Puppy: Basic Obedience
When to start training a puppy at basic obedience? Most trainers will tell you that obedience training should happen between 3 and 6 months of age. While that may be so, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get your puppy used to some of the commands earlier on.
All this involves is watching the puppy and forming word associations. For example, if the puppy sits, say “sit” then treat or praise him. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your pup picks this up.
As for obedience training itself, the basics should include things like sit, stay, down, wait, and so on. Training can be done in a class or at home, but the important thing is that you should train your own dog, rather than have someone else do it.Training establishes you as the pack leader and helps the dog understand his own position in the pack.
When to Start Training a Puppy: Further Training
Basic obedience training plus leash training is all that most dogs need. However, you may want to take your dog’s training further, for example teaching him tricks, or training him for canine sports, like agility.
If this is the case, then please remember that basic obedience training comes first. Make sure that he masters all the basic commands by the age of 6 months. Then, if you’ve caught the training bug and want to take things further, do so by all means. Dogs love to learn!
A word of warning though. Trick, agility and other canine sports training place stress on the body that a puppy may not be able to endure. Pushing a young dog too hard can result in health problems like dysplasia, later on.A dog should be fully grown before you have them jumping, sprinting, or diving.
When to Start Training a Puppy: A Word On Socialization
While socialization is not training per se, it is immensely important in a dog’s development. Many behavioral problems, particularly aggression, stem from a lack of proper socialization.
Never remove a puppy from its litter until it is at least 8 weeks old. This is because the mother and litter mates are important in early socialization. A dog learns many basic aspects of social interaction in those formative weeks. If they are removed too early, they are likely to develop behavioral issues.
Additionally, socialization with other dogs, and with people, is vital as they age. A dog that lacks this socialization learns to regard everyone outside their immediate pack as a threat and responds accordingly. A puppy is a big responsibility, requiring attention, authority, and training if he is to grow into a balanced, happy adult. The proper training, delivered at the right time and pace will ensure that this happens.
Now that you know when to start training a puppy, explore the links below for more specific advice.