If you’ve been going back and forth on when to start training your puppy, then chances are it’s time. Although there is no perfect time, you can start to train your puppy at a very young age. In fact, puppies are already in training, starting with house training as soon as you bring them home.
Puppies become aware of the world around them at around 3-5 weeks old. They start to learn how to interact and communicate with other animals and humans by playing with their brothers, sisters, and mother. This is a very delicate and early stage in their lives and is a perfect time to start training your puppy.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: there is no perfect age to start training your puppy! Some suggest that training should begin at 6 months of age, but this is not totally accurate. Traditional training for dogs begins around 6 months old, but this lets valuable training time go to waste. They are very impressionable as puppies so the sooner you start to train them the better. Every dog is different and some will be ready before others. As a rule of thumb, the sooner you start to train your puppy, the better. You can begin to train your dog the second you bring them home. Typically, this consists of house training for puppies and dogs that are not yet house-broken.
Puppies are notorious for being excitable and having short attention spans. So, when can you start to train your puppy basic commands? You can begin to teach them commands like sit, stay, and down at the young age of 7-8 weeks old. There is no harm in training a puppy to learn basic obedience at such an early stage. We recommend relying on positive reinforcement and gentle training to support your dog during this time of transition and learning. Yelling at them will only confuse them and discourage them from learning as quickly as they would with positive reinforcement.
Use treats or their favorite toys to get them into the positions you want them to learn. For example, if you want your puppy to sit, try floating their toy over their head until they are in a seated position. Then say “sit” and repeat this until they begin to understand. Once they are respondent to these prompts, you can begin to use other forms of reinforcement. A pat on the head and verbal affirmation can go a long way to make your dog feel praised and to know that they have done something good.
Socializing your puppy is another thing to consider. You can start to socialize your puppy at 7 weeks of age. They will be more comfortable with going out and meeting new people and not as likely to become aggressive or reactive in social situations. When they become more comfortable, it will make things easier on you as well. You will not have to worry about them running away and terrorizing others. Being able to take your dog to an off-leash park without worrying about their behavior is a wonderful feeling.
While training your dog is important, there does not need to be a strict schedule that you stick to with your dog. Instead, integrate this training into your everyday lives. For example, before a walk, make your dog sit at the door while you get their leash attached to their collar. While at the dinner table, teach them not to beg. Make sure they learn “stay” and “heel” when you go on walks together. The more that you practice their obedience, the more likely they will be to obey your commands. If you slack on their training, then so will they. Dog’s only understand as much as their owners teach them so ultimately it is up to us.
Another thing to consider when training your puppy is obedience school. If being apart for too long is not something you want, then consider doing in-home dog obedience training or going to training classes. At Giving A Dog A Bone, we offer in-home dog training classes for all levels!