All too often, people think they must wait until their puppy is at least six months old before starting formal puppy training.
Wrong! Your puppy is quite capable of learning the fundamentals of obedience training, starting from the day you bring them home.
Most responsible breeders begin to incorporate simple commands while the pups are still with them. They also follow a routine inoculation schedule based on age.
You will find, most dog trainers will ask you to wait until your puppy receives at least their second set of vaccinations before being exposed to other puppies and dogs. Puppies are usually 10-12 weeks old.
Puppy training: Start with socialization
While you are waiting, the most important thing you must recognize is how imperative it is to socialize your puppy during their first 20 weeks on the planet. For a puppy to become a well-adjusted, self-confident dog, they must have coping skills. The best way to achieve that is to expose them in positive ways to new people, new places, other vaccinated animals, strange sounds and scents.
During that period, as hard as it may be for you, allow your puppy to learn how to cope on their own with a variety of situations; good and not so good. By being overprotective, you only reinforce dependency. That makes for a fearful dog, which makes for an unpredictable dog, which makes for a dangerous dog.
The majority of dogs deemed dangerous are not inherently mean. They lack coping skills, which makes them fearful and insecure.
There are varying opinions by veterinarians, as to how old a puppy should be when scheduling their inoculations. Puppies carry their mom’s immunities for their first six weeks. Again, the preponderance of responsible breeders make sure by the time their puppies start leaving for their new homes at eight weeks old; they at least have their first set of shots. Puppies get the second set of shots between 10-12 weeks of age. They get the third set between 14-16 weeks of age.
So, once your puppy has received their second set of shots, they are ready to start puppy training and the best place to start is Puppy Kindergarten!
Puppy training: Start early
Don’t waste a minute. Enroll them as soon as you can. It is much easier to train an animal without bad behaviors, than have to modify the bad behaviors before teaching new appropriate behaviors.
Yes, their attention span is shorter than most older dogs. However, when you make puppy training fun by turning it a game, you will have their undivided attention! Dogs learn by association and consistency. When you incorporate training into their everyday life, they accept it as normal life.
That is your goal. Training never stops. By continually raising the bar, you will find your dog will do whatever it takes to please you.
For the most part, puppies and dogs want nothing more than to please their people. The sooner you start working with your puppy and showing them how happy you are with their progress, the more they will want to please you. This mutually rewarding relationship will carry over and even get stronger as your dog matures.
To achieve the best results, keep puppy training sessions short and fun. Everyone in the house should take turns at training. No more than three minutes, three times per day, per person add puppy training into their feeding time, playtime and exercise time.
Always make them finish your last command. That reinforces the fact you are the boss. Leave them wanting more. When they enjoy the experience, they look forward to repeating it. Thus puppy training becomes fun, not work.
Bottom line: As soon as your puppy has received their second set of shots, start puppy training and enroll your dog in positive reinforcement, punishment-free Puppy Kindergarten. You won’t regret it.
Karen A. Soukiasian is the owner of Good Dog! — Dog Training in St. Augustine, Florida. You can follow Karen on Facebook.