Petiquette With Jim Burwell: Puppy Training- What’s the best age to start?
Many people wonder what age is appropriate to begin training a puppy. Doing training while your puppy is still young will certainly make things easier, but you can train a puppy at pretty much any age.
The best time to begin training a puppy is the day you bring the puppy home which generally is around 8 weeks of age. One of the reasons you don’t want to get a puppy from a litter younger than 8 weeks is that while a puppy is still in it’s litter they learn a lot about bite inhibition from their litter mates which is helpful to you when you get the puppy home.
Here are a few tips to make the process of training as easy as possible:
Always be consistent in your training. Whatever behavior you are trying to teach your puppy, do it every single day for about 3 minutes and do it the same way every single time. It doesn’t really take much time out of your schedule. Two or three times a day for about 3 minutes each time is plenty. Puppies have a short attention span and will tire and get bored quickly.
Keep your training expectations age appropriate. Do not expect a young puppy 8-12 weeks of age to be able to hold a sit or a down for more than a few seconds. If your expectations exceed the capability of the puppy you are setting you both up for failure and frustration.
Always use the same word for the command each time. Pick one word and stick to it. Do not confuse the puppy by saying down when you want him to lay down then turn around and say down when you want him off the couch. One behavior – one command word.
Never, ever punish your puppy in any way, shape or form. If your puppy does not obey a command simply say wrong in a totally non-emotional tone of voice. Hitting, yelling at, or striking your puppy lays the groundwork for having a confrontational relationship with your puppy who will soon become a grown dog. Aggression begets aggression – simply do not do this.
Always praise your puppy when he performs a behavior properly. You can periodically give a food treat to make the training more rewarding for him, but understand how to wean off food treats. A simple Good Puppy said in a happy high pitched tone is also a great reward.
There is a lot to learn in training a puppy, but if you do it well, with the right information and the right techniques, you can easily have a well trained puppy in just a few weeks.
These are just some of the basics that will help you get started on the right foot with your puppy. Puppies are very smart and learn quickly, especially when they are taught from an early age.
Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!