Puppy Training is a Key Step
People often ask me at what age should they start training their puppy? Training will start as soon as you get it, whether you intend it to or not!
To create a concrete base in your dog's life, planned puppy training is fundamental. If it is done properly, it will make future training easier and more successful.
It is extremely important to begin training the day you get your puppy. The puppy will have learned a lot from its mother and hopefully the breeder.
The first thing you need to teach your puppy is the house rules that are to be normal in your house. Basics like housetraining and recall can begin when they walk through the door, with socialisation being taught as soon as they can go out for a walk.
You have a duty to your puppy to feed its nutritional and emotional needs and to keep it happy by being its pack leader.
Who is going to be the leader?
When you get a puppy, you must have time and patience. Puppies are naturally hardwired to follow a leader. They follow their mums, then they follow you. If you do not participate in your puppy’s training, your puppy will train itself. Remember, you will need to put in much more effort to correct unwanted behaviour than to teach the desired behaviour in the first place.
The role of the leader is a continuous role, it should not just appear to correct unwanted behaviour or because they have reached 6 months old. The puppy should look for you for guidance and to make good decisions and you should reward their good decisions with positive reinforcement. Puppies that experience fear and rough treatment are more likely to grow to show aggressive behaviours.
How young is too young?
There is no too young in learning. From being seven weeks old, your puppy has a fully developed brain and is beginning to wonder who is strong enough to be the leader. Puppies need to be gently guided into making good decisions and good behaviour. Their brain is like a sponge, absorbing everything.
A 12 week old puppy in a family may be starting some puppy classes; a trainee service dog has already been introduced to many of the skills it will need in its career.
By six months old, service dogs are already expected to know more than most pet dogs are taught throughout their whole lives.
This comparison has been used so you can see how much puppies are capable of learning at a very young age.
Dogs are conditioned to never to dirty their den. As long as their mother was housetrained, they will follow their mum to go to the toilet very early. Puppies can be House Trained usually between two and four months of age. Straight after a feed or when you see the puppy after a short break, place your puppy in an area they are allowed to relieve themselves. Reward for going to the toilet where you desire. Do not punish for accidents in the wrong place.
The most important training your dog can get. It means they can be safely off the lead without the worry you will not get them back. As soon as Puppy says, "Yes, yes! I'm hungry, I'll do anything for that food," then you're ready to begin. Every meal is an opportunity to practice. Introduce the simple recall by giving a couple of nuggets of kibble for free, then quickly back up a few steps and say, "Come." Hold the food in an outstretched hand at your puppy’s nose level. Praise your puppy all the time when they approach and give the food as soon as they get to you. Once your puppy comes eagerly, add a sit to the end of the recall and take hold of their collar before giving the food.
Ensure you go out of the door first and walk in front of your puppy; this puts you in the position of the leader. Regular walks are an important part in your dog’s life, so this needs to be as pleasant as possible. Allow them to explore their environment and give positive reinforcement for any good behaviour they display.