A very common question that we get is when to begin training with a new puppy. This inquiry is music to our ears because it means that the puppy owner is prioritizing training for their new addition. Getting a jump start means that you can prevent bad habits, make training low stress, develop a solid leadership role, and ensure good socialization. That having been said, you want to make sure that your puppy is training at an age-appropriate level.
8-12 Weeks Old
Congratulations! Your new puppy has arrived and is ready to start their journey with you. Training at this age will mainly consist of potty training, crate training, and building a relationship with your puppy. Learning sit, down, and shake are not so important at this point, but this is the perfect time to start good habits.
Get your puppy on a feeding schedule, and hand feed them their meals. You want your puppy to have a relationship with you, not with a food bowl. This will pay off down the road when your puppy has good food drive for training. You can also start encouraging your puppy to be interested in toys, and interested in playing retrieve with you.
This age is also a crucial socialization window for puppies. You need to balance out the need for this puppy to see and experience new things with a need to keep the puppy confident and safe. Only introduce your puppy to dogs that you know are vaccinated and good natured. Make sure that people your puppy meets are petting them in a way that is pleasant rather than overwhelming. If your puppy gets nervous around loud noises, make note of this and introduce these things in a positive manner.
Your puppy is now old enough that they should have received the bulk of their vaccinations. You can now start to bring them to more places and allow them to explore the world more. You probably have also noticed some nuisance behaviors crop up. Puppies reach more independence at this age, so you may see more wandering, barking, mouthing, and general naughtiness.
Teething is a roadblock in puppy training that can start to show up in this time frame, and up to 6 months old. Puppies can be a nightmare when they are trying to chew on anything within reach. Be patient with your puppy, this will pass. You can redirect your puppy onto an appropriate toy, and make sure that they always have access to good chews. One thing that we have found to really help is to freeze toys, as the cold helps sooth a teething puppy’s gums.
Your puppy is growing in maturity with each passing day. You can begin to allow your puppy more freedom as their maturity allows. Adjust your potty training schedule to fit the needs of your puppy’s increasing bladder control. You can also start to demand more self control once your puppy has finished teething, and be more strict about mouthing.
You are also approaching the window when formal training can really start. We do not start our Full Service training program until puppies reach 6 months of age, because we have found this to be the youngest point where a puppy can truly absorb the training they are receiving. This is also a great age because it means that we can prevent bad habits before they begin and can shape a lifetime of good behavior. If you want to send your dog at 6 months of age, make sure that you contact us at about the 4 month mark so that you can be sure to get onto our waiting list.
If you follow this training plan, you are sure to end up with an awesome puppy who will grow up to be a well mannered part of the family.