When Can I Start Puppy Training?

training a puppy

Puppy Training should start early. Puppies are impressionable and learn quickly.

Formal obedience training,  puppy training in a class situation, can start anywhere from 9 to 12 weeks of age.  Most schools like to see the pup receive a series of 3 distemper combo vaccinations and a rabies shot given before starting in a class – for the pup’s protection, as well as the protection of all other pups in the class.  A Bordetella (a type of kennel cough) vaccination and negative stool sample also need to be done beforehand.

Start puppy training, the stuff you teach them at home, this should start the day you bring your puppy home!  This does not mean training needs to be intensive right away.  Training at this stage should be done in many little lessons, in short spans of time (5-10 minutes per session).  Then it goes on from there!

Puppies and dogs learn from the instant they are born.  At first their world is small and their learning comes from their mother, other litter-mates, and the whelping box (their environment).  By the time they are weaned and sent on their way to new homes, they have learned a vast amount of things, all from their mom, their litter-mates, and from any environmental influences they had.  Hopefully, if the pup comes from a reputable breeder (or from a mixed-breed home with some understanding about raising puppies), they have had a good foundation set for future learning.  This is one of the biggest reasons to purchase a pup from a knowledgeable and reputable breeder.

Puppy Learning comprises many factors:

Socialization – puppies need lots of positive and productive exposure to many different people, animals, environments, surfaces, situations, sounds, etc. Teaching the pup how to best react to new things will instill confidence that will be a useful skill throughout their life.

Innate Personality – there is a set type of personality all animals and people are born with.  Understand that each puppy and dog is different and our approach to training and working with them should also be different in order to reach our desired goals.

Environment – an enriched environment will provide positive experiences and socialization.  be sure to “puppy proof” your home to ensure that your pup doesn’t get hurt or find themselves in something that they shouldn’t be in.

Training at Home –  work with your puppy on potty training, crate training, leash & collar training, teaching them appropriate items to chew, your household routine, words and basic home manners.

Professional Puppy Training Classes – are extremely helpful for owners to get started on the right foot.  Group puppy training is a great place to teach your puppy the essentials of obedience commands, manners, and ability to do everything with the distraction of other people and dogs.  These sessions are also great for socializing your puppy to new people, dogs and environments.

Serendipity – or what the pup learns on his own.  This is also commonly referred to as self-discovery and is a huge part of early learning!  As you are reading this article, you are learning, but so is your dog!  What is your dog doing right this moment?  One big thing pups learn is that when you are busy or distracted, they are free to make their own decisions, good or bad!

As you can see this period of time during the life of the dog is without a doubt the most important. If you consider how long you will have this puppy you can easily see how investing in proper training now will bring in a huge return of a happy balanced companion throughout their entire life.

What should I look for in a trainer to help with my puppy training?

puppy trainingLook for a trainer that uses multiple training techniques.  You don’t want a trainer that just uses positive training or one that uses just prong collars. You want a trainer that will adapt to the needs of the individual puppy, this way you know your dog is receiving the best training possible.  Be sure that the trainer you are working with has plenty of patience and doesn’t try to rush the process just to move on to the next client…you and the puppy will both need it.

This article is the fourth in a series on puppies. To read other articles in this series and learn more about puppies, click on the links below. Highland Canine Training, LLC offers a variety of dog training programs including puppy classes and in-home puppy training.  Check out our events calendar to find out when our next available puppy group class is scheduled.  For more information or to find a trainer in your area contact us at 866.200.2207 or at training@highlandcanine.com