Petiquette With Jim Burwell: How Soon Can Puppy Training Begin?
Lots of puppy owners have the incorrect belief that puppies are not capable of learning at such an early age. To the contrary, early training of your puppy is the best time to begin. Instead of waiting till later and allowing the puppy to learn bad behavior, train early and teach good behavior from the beginning.
Ideally 10 weeks of age is a nice time to start training. The puppy is generally old enough to stay awake and participate in the short training sessions. Here are some easy tips to incorporate when training a new puppy:
- Be patient, no yelling or harsh treatment. This early time in a puppy’s life is critical. Harsh treatment or abuse gets ingrained in this fear imprint period. You can certainly ruin a good puppy by being too hard on them.
- Puppies have very short attention spans in their early months. Train in short intervals.
- Keep everything pretty basic. Remember, a young puppy is NOT going to hold a sit or a stay for more than a few seconds. Keep your expectations in line with the age of the puppy.
- Build your puppy’s confidence by setting your puppy up to succeed instead of fail. Be proactive in his training, not reactive.
- Initially concentrate on the commands and behaviors that are important to you AND are age appropriate.
Some commands that are appropriate for a 10 week old puppy to begin learning are:
- Come when called ( this takes a while)
- Walk on a leash
- No biting
- No jumping
- No nipping
And of course the usual house training and crate training.
Make training fun for you and fun for your puppy. Once your puppy is completely vaccinated and usually around 4 – 5 months of age, a group obedience class is appropriate for your puppy to get better at the basic commands around controlled distractions of other people and other dogs.
If where you take your dog for basic obedience allows playtime once temperament of all dogs has been evaluated, that is a wonderful opportunity for more socialization for your puppy and a great place for him/her to learn how to play appropriately with other dogs.
Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”