AT WHAT AGE SHOULD TRAINING START?

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 2 vaccinations given before starting in a class - for the pup's protection, as well as the protection of all other pups in the class.  A Bordatella (a type of kennel cough) vaccination and negative stool sample also need to be done beforehand.

TRAINING of your puppy - the stuff you teach them at home - 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 littermates, 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 littermates, and from any environmental influences they had.  Hopefully, if the pup comes from a reputable breeder (or from a mixed-breed home with 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.

Learning comprises many factors:

  • Socialization - positive exposure to many different people, animals, environments, surfaces, situations, sounds, etc, and teaching the pup how to best react to new things
  • Innate personality - there is a set type of personality all animals and people are born with.
  • Environment - an enriched environment will provide positive experiences and socialization.
  • In-home work with potty training, crate training, leash & collar training, teaching appropriate stuff to chew on, your household routine, words, basic home manners.
  • Training classes outside the home - where you teach your puppy the essentials of obedience commands, manners, and ability to do everything with the distraction of other people and dogs.
  • Serendipity - what the up learns on his own - 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 righ this moment?  One big thing pups learn is that when your are busy or distracted, they are free to make their own decisions, good OR bad!
 
At what age should training start?  The answer is "RIGHT AWAY!"

Pam Young, LVT CDBC CPDT  
Dog Gone Good LLC
Dog Behavior Consultant
Personal Dog Trainer