Anyone who has ever raised a puppy knows that training these adorable little monsters can be challenging.
While most puppies can learn the essentials within six to eight weeks (such as potty training and basic commands), there are plenty of variables to consider if you wonder how long it takes to train a puppy.
Puppy brains can get easily confused, especially when your puppy is also busy adapting to a new household with new rules.
A well-trained puppy does not happen overnight.
The process to train a puppy generally takes six months to a year to fully train a puppy (including house training, crate training, basic commands, and more advanced behaviors).
Be patient with your furry little friend and yourself — learning to train a puppy isn’t easy.
Training a dog, especially a young puppy, requires calm, patience, and repetition.
At what age should I begin training my puppy?
Most people will adopt a new puppy at eight weeks old. You can start with basic training as early as eight weeks, though it will take several weeks before your puppy catches on.
However, when your puppy enters your home, you can build a consistent routine of frequent potty breaks, mealtimes, play times, mini-training sessions, and naps.
Start training using simple command words, even if your puppy doesn’t respond. You’re creating a safe structure where your puppy will learn, ultimately making training go faster.
How do I train a puppy?
Usually, puppies would learn the rules from their mom; in the mom’s absence, you are now the primary role model for your puppy’s good behavior.
As such, it’s up to you to set a daily schedule and uphold expectations.
Fully training your puppy takes time, and the different behaviors you’d like to train in your dog will require varying amounts of effort; plus, you may need to wait until your puppy reaches a certain age before teaching more advanced commands.
How do I house-train my puppy?
Young puppies have small bladders, so your little guy (or girl) will require plenty of bathroom breaks.
Still, you can start potty training your new puppy at eight to ten weeks old. Puppies should be let outside every few hours.
Frequent opportunities to relieve themselves outside will help your tiny canine get used to the expectation.
When you head out the door with your pup, select a simple command, such as “go potty,” and repeat that word or phrase every time. You can even combine potty training with leash training.
You might even consider walking on leash to a patch of grass or bush; this way, your puppy will associate that area with going to the bathroom.
Offer praise when your puppy follows through, and always have a treat or toy ready when you head back indoors.
It takes about six weeks of intentional training to potty train your puppy. That being said, it’s still very likely that your new puppy will have accidents.
It’s all part of the learning process, so clean up the area and try again. Stay positive, and don’t punish your puppy.
Keep sticking to your daily routine and ensure that frequent potty breaks are scheduled around the same times every day.
How do I crate-train my puppy?
New puppy owners can begin crate training as early as eight-to-ten weeks old.
While not every dog owner chooses to crate-train their pups, crating is an exceedingly helpful strategy to help reduce your puppy’s risk of developing separation anxiety. It may even help it get used to sleeping through the night.
When you crate-train successfully, your puppy’s crate will serve as a place of safety and security.
Select a location for your puppy’s crate that inspires comfort, like the family room.
Make sure there is a cozy bed or blanket in the crate. When placing your puppy in or around the crate, keep your voice cheerful and supportive (crates should never be used as a punishment). Leave a path of treats to the open crate door and, eventually, into the physical crate.
Don’t force it; it may take your puppy several days to get comfortable entering the crate.
From there, begin feeding your puppy meals in the crate and practice longer periods with the crate door closed (with you remaining nearby).
Soon, your puppy will be comfortable remaining in the crate for short periods without you around.
You can start crating your puppy for several hours and even overnight at six months. All said and done, it may take up to six months to successfully crate train your puppy.
How do I teach basic commands?
You don’t need to hire a dog trainer for basic commands like “sit,” “stay,,” and “down.”
Practicing simple commands, such as “sit”, can begin as early as eight weeks. Once you start practicing, your puppy can learn these commands in as little as one week.
To train your dog to “sit,” try to minimize distractions and gather a few treats or your puppy’s favorite toy.
Stand before your puppy and calmly repeat the command to sit, holding a treat in your hand. When your tiny canine does sit, offer positive praise and give it the treat. Step away, allow your puppy to follow, and repeat the process several times.
“Down” is a slightly more advanced command, so you may need to wait until your furry friend is at least ten weeks old.
You should employ a similarly repetitive process as the “sit” command requires, but you may need to lure your puppy into lying down by bringing a treat in front of the snout down to the floor.
Release the treat when your puppy has fully brought its elbows and tummy to the floor.
Mastering basic commands will take about six weeks of consistent training.
However, with a strong foundation, your puppy can learn more complicated commands in less time.
As such, you can start incorporating more complicated commands once your puppy reaches at least twelve to fourteen weeks.
“Stay,” “fetch,” and “drop it” are more advanced commands, and they require your puppy to develop impulse control and a longer attention span.
Should I enroll my puppy in obedience classes?
Hiring a personal dog trainer or signing your puppy up for positive reinforcement classes can be costly, but a basic obedience class is typically cost-effective.
Obedience training classes are usually held once a week for six weeks.
These puppy schools can benefit first-time dog owners, foster or rescue dogs, difficult puppies, or owners who cannot train their dogs properly.
You can enroll your puppy in obedience training classes as early as eight weeks old (make sure your pup is up to date with vaccinations).
There are many perks to formal classes for your puppy, including plenty of socialization and playtime with other dogs. Above all, investing in an obedience class will help you train your puppy even faster.
It’s never too late to teach your dog new rules or a new trick.
No matter your dog’s age, the most critical aspect of training is patience, consistency, and positivity (oh, and a bag of your puppy’s favorite treats, of course).