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What age is it best to start training my puppy?

20/12/2018 - Latest News

A dog can learn at any age. So whether you have a rescue dog, a senior with established habits or a baby puppy, you can work with him to shape his behaviour. In this blog I’m going to look at the early stages of a dog’s life and how training can help your puppy grow into the best dog ever.

The best puppy training is crucial to healthy development
Puppy training begins from the moment you leave the breeder’s house with your puppy in your arms.

You may think that an 8 week old pup is too young to learn. In fact your pup has been learning from the day he was born. He’s been learning how to be a dog living amongst other dogs. Now he needs to learn how to be a dog living amongst humans.

Behavioural scientists studying puppies believe that a dog’s personality develops in the first 16 weeks of his life.  That’s when he learns most about trust, fear, curiosity and confidence.

As a dog trainer, I would add to this that every pup is different and that by the time you bring them home at 8 weeks plus, they already have distinct personality traits. It’s for owners and other human companions to build up the dog’s self-confidence and introduce them to the big wide world. No matter what their personality, they need to understand how to behave well and feel safe.

Put it another way – when you take on a dog you need to be prepared to look after it’s mental health as well as it’s physical health.

What can you teach a puppy?
Dog training is a 24/7 job. You might not realise you are doing it, but everything you do teaches your dog something.

Puppy training in particular is more than spending 10 minutes a day teaching the pup to “sit”. It’s mainly about encouraging curiosity, confidence and good manners. Dog trainers refer to it as puppy socialization. And believe me – it’s crucial.

I’ve blogged about puppy socialisation before. I’ll post the link for you at the end of this article.

When should you start training and socialising your pup?
Your puppy’s mind is like a little sponge right now. He’s learning something every single minute of every day and now is the best time to start teaching him how to be a loveable pet.

If you want to hone your pooch into a working dog, that training traditionally starts at around 6 months of age or once he’s mastered the basics and matured a little.

Remember though, that harsh words or inappropriate handling at this age can take a lifetimes worth of work to undo.

From the age of 8 weeks your puppy can be learning things like

  • Toilet training
  • Coming when he’s called
  • Settling by himself
  • What it’s OK to play with and what’s not a toy
  • How to greet people politely
  • No nipping
  • Household noises are not scary
  • Exploring the great outdoors
  • Riding in the car
  • Meeting new dogs

 Pre-vaccination training
Here’s the thing. Early training and socialisation for your pup is crucial if he is to live a happy and carefree life. BUT his physical health is important too. Vets advise that your pup is not exposed to any risk of disease until 2 weeks after his last vaccination. So realistically, he’s going to be at least 12 weeks old before he can go to the park.

How do you compromise between puppy socialisation and health?
There is a lot you can do to train and socialise your puppy while you wait for his vaccinations to take effect. Housetraining of course, as well as greeting people without getting too excitable, getting him used to loud noises, keeping his teeth to himself and responding to simple instructions.

Car rides are OK and so are bus rides and trips out, provided he’s carried. That’s OK if he’s a portable size. Don’t even attempt it if your arms are going to get tired after 5 minutes because you absolutely must not put him on the ground.

Pre Vaccination Puppy Training
Puppy training classes don’t start until all of your dog’s vaccinations are complete but that doesn’t mean that the two of you can’t begin working with a dog trainer.

I’m more than happy to make home visits and help guide you through the first steps of puppy training and puppy socialisation. I can show you practical solutions to everyday puppy problems and I’ll also show you how to discourage unwanted behaviour without punishing.

I’m passionate about training puppies so that they don’t ever develop behavioural problems. That’s why I’m offering 25% off the price off the price of puppy training classes when you book 2 or more pre vaccination home visits.*

Find out more about pre-vaccination puppy training

*Offer correct at time of writing and subject to change. Please check the website for up to date details.

More about successful socialisation for puppies