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Training Your Dog – When to Start?

A well-behaved dog can bring so much joy.  They can keep you company, get you to exercise, and be the best cuddle buddy.  To learn good habits your dog needs training.  But when should you start?  Can you train your puppy or should he be older?  Here are some tips on turning your pooch into a well-behaved family member.

The Best Time to Train

According to the AKC, the best time to start training your dog is between 7-8 weeks.  While that may seem early, the goal is to start training before your dog exhibits behavioral problems.  Correcting these issues is possible, but it’s always easier if you can start with a clean slate.

The Training Guide

When you think of training, you probably think of basic commands like sit and stay.  But training your pup encompasses so much more than that.  You may not realize it, but you’ve been teaching your puppy basic skills since you first got them.

Potty Training

A puppy needs to be housebroken immediately and this should be considered one of their first training sessions.  Whether you use a crate or not, there are basic guidelines needed to get your dog to use the bathroom outside.

First, you need to create a schedule.  The pup should eat and then immediately be taken outside.  Rewards and praise should be given when the dog completes the task.  Finally, if an accident happens, he shouldn’t be scolded, training should simply resume.

All of these housebreaking tips will carry over into other areas of training — rewards, and praise for good behavior, and working with your dog even during setbacks.

These routines, especially when done at an early age, will set your dog up to see you as his leader.  As dogs are pack animals, this will make it easier to promote good behavior in the future.

Basic Skills

As soon as you’ve mastered potty training and puppy nipping, it’s time to move onto basic training skills.  These require a bit more focus, but since your dog already sees you as his leader, and has accomplished some beginner training, he’s ready.

These basic skills can include:

  • Sitting
  • Down
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Heel

If your dog aces those skills, try more simple commands.  In a perfect world, your dog would still be a puppy when learning these commands, but that isn’t always possible.  Don’t worry if your 3-year-old dog doesn’t have this down, he can still learn.  It may take a bit more patience from you and consistent, daily practice, but he’ll get it.  Remember, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.

Dog Trainers

Sometimes dog trainers are needed to help your puppy learn basic commands or to teach older dogs proper behavior.  Each trainer is different, but most have a beginner puppy class that starts anywhere from 9 weeks on.  It’s usually dependent on the puppy’s vaccinations.

Obedience classes are offered to other dogs of any age as long as they have their shots.  These classes can teach your dog how to greet people, walking on a leash, and helping to correct improper behavior.

Even though you might not realize it, training your dog starts right away.  Consistent training, paired with lots of treats and love, will give you the well-behaved dog you deserve.