Responsible pet owners want to know: “When do I start training my puppy?” Yesterday! Seriously–get started ASAP! It’s never too early to start training your puppy.
What is puppy training?
Training may have a different definition than you think. Puppy training isn’t just about obedience or teaching specific commands, but it also includes exposing them to our world. By positively socializing and exposing pups to a variety of smells, sounds, sights and textures at an impressionable age, a strong foundation for stability & well-roundness is created. Proper socialization is the key element in helping dogs develop confidence, have the ability to navigate through life successfully, and handle new situations with ease.
At what age should I start the training process?
Puppy training can start as soon as you bring her home. Puppy training is much easier to start when pups are younger due to their mental flexibility. You basically have a “clean slate”. If you wait too long to start teaching and exposing, you could end up with behavior issues that will be more difficult to fix the longer you wait. Inadequate socialization during the critical fear period can result in a number of issues. Puppies develop at such a quick pace and our window to affect their development positively is from about 5 weeks to 16 weeks. The more things a puppy can experience during this time, the less affected they will be when confronted with new things in life and the more accepting they will be. Be a responsible pet owner and do not wait to contact a Professional Dog Trainer or find a puppy group class to join. However, if you brought your pup home past the critical socialization period, do not fear! Your dog is still trainable!
When do professional breeders start training?
Believe it or not, puppy training starts long before you bring your pup home! I reached out to a breeder friend. She begins training/enrichment activities as soon as the momma and puppies are settled. She states, “training with our pups early is less about teaching them specific cues and more about shaping their responses to novelty. Responsible pet owners have the unique opportunity to work with a dog trainer before puppies are 8 weeks old to help shape how pups feel about the world around them. Once these pups arrive at their new homes it is so important that positive exposures and rewarding for appropriate behavior continue because they are still at an age where they will soak up knowledge like a sponge. Working with your puppy early like this sets the foundation for having a stable, confident dog who is easier to train because they have learned to enjoy it!” If you choose to go through a breeder, make sure you do your research. Finding a breeder like Endless Pawsabilities, who puts in the extra work and understands dog behavior and development, will help your puppy be well adjusted and secure.
Puppies are constantly learning so it is our responsibility as responsible pet owners to teach and socialize appropriately. Providing puppies with proper socialization, creative enrichment, positive interactions, and basic training helps set a foundation for a confident, happy adult dog.
Rachelle Yates is the owner and founder of K9 Revolution, LLC and resides in downtown McKinney with her husband and 4 year old daughter (dog trainer in the making!!) Rachelle specializes in obedience, behavior modification and service dogs and strives to produce, develop and nurture the canine-human relationship to be the best it can be. Rachelle is pet mom to 4 dogs: Misha (Catahoula mix), Ginger (boxer/shepherd mix), Eli (Italian greyhound) and a new golden doodle fur baby to arrive at the end of September (with plans to do therapy work).