One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “When should I start training my puppy?”
My answer is always…you guessed it! NOW!!!! When I say now I mean ASAP. Right now.
Regardless of whether you are working with a professional or just training on your own, begin training your puppy ASAP!
Puppies Are Learning Machines!
Believe it or not, puppies are learning all day long. Puppies are constantly learning about their world and their surroundings. They are also learning what works for them and what doesn’t.
Teaching puppies as early as eight weeks of age is easy and can be a lot of fun. This is a great time to set rules and boundaries for success. With good training, your puppy will grow up to be a lovely family companion.
Did you know that the most impressionable time in a puppies life is during their socialization period? Well, if you didn’t, now you do! Let’s learn a bit more about the socialization period.
The socialization period starts around 3-4 weeks of age and typically ends around 16 weeks of age. The socialization period is the most impressionable time in a puppies life! This is where they can learn to love, hate and/or be afraid of anything.
Your dog forms memories, associations, social bonds, and relationships during this time in their life. Learning during this period affects the way they interact with the world.
Early experiences have the power to influence a dog’s life. Owners should encourage their puppies to explore and investigate their environment. Expose puppies to as many new people, animals, environments, objects, textures, sights, and sounds as possible during this time. To learn more about the importance of socialization click here.
Setting Rules & Boundaries
It is essential to start training ASAP in order to set rules, boundaries and teach impulse control. Many people are under the impression that training a dog is only about learning sit, lay down and give paw. However, this is not the whole truth!
Training is not only about teaching your dog behaviors like sit, lay down and come. It is also about housetraining and learning the rules and boundaries that you will choose to enforce.
Remember, puppies do not know what the word “NO” is. They don’t know why chewing on your shoes is a bad thing. It is our job to teach our puppies. Learn more about telling your dog “YES” instead of “NO” at this link.
It is our job as the owner to be our puppies guide and show them the way in their new home and the world. This means we need to help teach them through training concepts, managing their behavior and environment.
To make this easier it is essential to puppy-proof your home as a precaution. This keeps your puppy safe and also sets them up for success. Click here to look at a puppy proofing checklist.
Training Your Puppy Creates An Engaging Relationship
Starting training ASAP can create a fun and engaging relationship between you and your puppy. When training we want it to be fun, engaging and enjoyable for the puppy. By training your puppy with positive reinforcement techniques, you can create a strong and engaging relationship.
I am constantly reminded by my own puppy that training is not just a formal teaching session. Training is also about creating a fun experience; an enjoyable game between you and your puppy. This helps puppies become well-trained family companions over time. Like people, puppies have an easier time listening and focusing when they’re having fun!
When training, remember it should be fun for both the puppy and you. It should not be stressful, scary or harmful in any way. Stress can damage your relationship with your puppy. Fear and stress compromise all the hard work you put into training your puppy! Furthermore, making training scary or using harsh forms of punishment can increase fearful and aggressive behaviors.
Not only is positive reinforce training more fun, but it is also more effective! If we get puppy’s because they are cute, make us happy, and because we want to enjoy them, then shouldn’t the training process be enjoyable also? This makes positive reinforcement training the obvious choice when training your puppy.
Just like kids, puppies go through phases!
Just like kids, puppies go through phases that cause their behavior to change. Puppies will have ups and downs and that cute little puppy who came when called might start to ignore you.
This is common at about 6 months of age when your puppy is entering the teenage phase of puppyhood. This is one of the many reasons why you should start training your puppy ASAP. When issues arise, a trained puppy has a better chance of bouncing back fast.
In conclusion, it is important to train your puppy early. Training is important so that a puppy learns valuable skills, builds confidence, gains impulse control, all while learning rules and boundaries. Lastly and most importantly, training right away helps develop an engaging relationship between owner and puppy. Though training takes work, it’s an investment worth making as it will guide you and your puppy towards success! Training takes time and consistency, but can make a world of difference, both now and in the future!
About Anthony De Marinis, CDBC, CBATI, VSPDT, TTWC, VSA-DT
Anthony De Marinis is the owner of De Marinis Dog Training & Behavior on Long Island, NY. He provides private in-home training and behavior modification solutions using positive reinforcement-based methods. He also provides video consultations remotely as he has many clients across the United States. Anthony has 6 professional certifications which include: Certified Dog Behavior Consultant from the International Association for Animal Behavior Consultants, Certified Graduate of distinction from the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior, Certified Behavior Adjustment Trainer, Certified Victoria Stilwell Licensed Positively Dog Trainer, The Third Way Certified Trainer and is a Fear Free Certified Animal Trainer. Currently, Anthony has a young Australian Kelpie named Journey. They are learning about agility and nose work together. You can visit Anthony’s website and learn more about him and his services at: www.demarinisdogtraining.com