Few things in this world are more adorable than puppies. Most of us agree, and having them around is a joy. However, there’s a lot more to pet ownership (especially dog ownership) than just thinking they’re cute and giving them lots of snuggles. You’ve also got to spend time on puppy training, where things can get tricky.
Honestly, how puppy training will go will depend on the temperament of your new pup, their breed, and the methods in which you train them. Of course, there are also schools and individual trainers that you can hire, so that’s an option as well. This does mean that the answer to our titular question can vary.
However, there are some basic guidelines, which I’ll explain. I know some pet parents prefer to do the training independently, but don’t worry — this timeline will still apply.
Why train your puppy?
First, let’s discuss the elephant in the room — why should we train our dogs, anyway? It’s not exactly fun to give the little sweeties punishment, so some people decide against doing so beyond teaching them to go outside instead of on puppy pads indoors. However, there are many compelling reasons we should do so.
For one thing, you probably don’t want your dog to become overly aggressive. It’s easy to brush it off and say it’s OK if they’re only aggressive towards strangers, but that can get dangerous fast. Any time you have friends over, it can be a risk to them and your dog.
However, that’s not the only reason. Many animals genuinely benefit from training, and this is no exception. This is especially true for those prone to anxiety – we saw that a lot during the duration of the covid 19 pandemic. Quarantine” puppies suffering from extreme separation anxiety when their owners left home and returned to work flooded many of our social media pages.
So, it’s no surprise to me that dog training is pretty necessary. When to start, though, is another question entirely. Puppies have developmental cycles quite similar to other animals, so there is a way to tell on a general level.
When should you start?
As I mentioned above, it’s essential to understand that this timeline I’ll be discussing can change somewhat depending on what breed of dog you’ve adopted. There are bound to be differences between a chihuahua and a Great Dane. I know that’s an extreme example, but still, it demonstrates what I’m talking about here pretty well.
Since there are a few different types of training, I’ll start with socialization. This can start pretty early – many vets recommend as early as seven-to-eight weeks old. Starting it at that age still allows them some time to get familiar with their mother and siblings without it getting too overwhelming right after birth.
Remember that you should get the necessary vaccinations or de-worming medicine to the puppies before you begin socializing them to keep them and other dogs safe. The purpose of puppy training is obvious, but I’ll cover it anyway. Training is crucial to prevent behavioral problems from cropping up later in dogs’ lives.
As far as behavioral training sessions go, you can usually get those started at around thirteen to fourteen weeks old. That’s around when most dogs are developmentally capable of retaining information and will begin to respond to basic commands once you’ve taught them. That’s typically when the various puppy academies start to allow enrollment, although some might prefer older than that.
How training works
Whether you do it on your own or with assistance from a professional, there are a few tips and tricks that can make the process go much smoother than you might expect. In most cases, positive reinforcement will go much further than punishments for bad behavior.
So, reward your pup when they perform a trick or command when asked them. Mix it up, give them praise and pets sometimes, and treat others, so they do not become overly reliant on needing the treats to do your desired actions. In addition, it’s usually a good idea to make the sessions shorter rather than longer, especially when they are still relatively young.
Since most puppies are pretty excitable and need a lot of stimulation, they often won’t be able to retain much information beyond a five-minute threshold for several months. That’s OK, though – we can work with that, right? Split up the training sessions with some moments of rest and play to keep them engaged and learning.
Professional trainers are well-versed in that and plan around that in their sessions. Additionally, they can handle your dog while you’re off at work or doing other essential things, allowing you more flexibility in your schedule even when you’ve got a rambunctious youngster on the loose.
Final thoughts on puppy training
Training our puppies is essential. It helps them and us because it allows most dogs to reach their developmental goals with minimal destruction of furniture thanks to scratching or chewing. If you’ve been debating whether or not you should start, hopefully, this timeline has helped you at least a bit.
Remember, though, it’s still a good idea to research your dog’s specific breed or to pay attention to their behavior to determine whether they’re ready.
Josh Khan is a talented freelance writer based in the United States. With a passion for crafting compelling content and a keen eye for detail, Josh has been helping clients across various industries tell their stories for several years. Josh enjoys spending time with his faithful pet, Scamp, when he’s not busy writing. This lovable companion has been Josh’s constant inspiration and company, providing the perfect excuse to take a break and enjoy the fresh air. Josh’s writing expertise spans various topics, from business and finance to travel and lifestyle. His ability to distill complex ideas into simple, engaging prose has made him a sought-after writer among clients looking for high-quality content.