Training is a critical part of your puppy’s growth and development. But when is the right time to start puppy training? The short answer: It depends on the skill. Read on to get a better handle on timing training for your new pup.
The first phase of training involves basic commands, because it is a foundation for every other type of training. Simple commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “lay down,” and “leave it” are important ways to keep your puppy safe and happy as they explore the world.
Training your pup simple obedience commands can begin as soon as they come home with you, typically around 7 to 8 weeks.
Try to choose an area of your house with as few distractions as possible and keep training sessions to around 5 to 10 minutes, spread throughout the day. Puppies are notorious for short attention spans. Plus, they tire out quickly!
The key to successful puppy training is to make it a positive, fun activity. Do everything you can to maintain a happy, positive energy during each training session. (Though how can you not with a cute puppy bounding around the room?)
While there is no specific order in which to train basic commands, one of the best skills to teach first is “come” because it is a lifelong skill your puppy needs for obedience and safety.
“Sit” is another relatively easy command to teach your puppy, especially if you use rewards and lots of praise. “Lay down” is slightly more difficult to teach simply because puppies are full of energy! Similarly, “stay” can be a bit trickier with an energetic pup, but is another key element of your puppy’s basic training.
Potty training should begin as soon as you bring your new puppy home as well.
But remember, potty training your puppy requires time and patience.
It also requires a schedule. Take your pup out every two hours to start, increasing time as he or she gets older. You can even set a timer to keep everyone on track.
Most puppies get the concept of going outside within a few weeks but it’s important to remember that puppies have small bladders. They may not be able to hold it for very long. Puppies can be expected to hold their bladders for the number of hours that corresponds with their age in months. In other words, a five-month-old puppy should be able to hold it for around 5 hours. This is true up until about 9 months when any dog may have trouble holding for longer than 9 hours.
Crate training a puppy is an activity that helps with other aspects of your dog’s training and protects him or her (and your sofas and rugs!) when you aren’t around to supervise. Many dogs grow to love their crates as it represents a safe spot to sleep or get some private down time.
You can begin crate training as soon as you bring your new puppy home, typically around 8 weeks. And because dogs instinctively don’t like to mess where they sleep (we don’t blame them!) they typically hold it while in the crate within a reasonable time frame. At some point their little bladders may not be able to hold it anymore, so be sure to take your puppy out every few hours.
Walking on a leash is not natural behavior for dogs. That’s why puppies often dart in different directions when they first have a leash on. The good news? Leash training your puppy at a young age will build good leash manners for a lifetime.
You can also start leash training as soon as you bring your new puppy home. Put his collar and harness on when he’s running around the house, playing, or being trained. When your puppy goes in his or her crate or is unsupervised, make sure to take off the leash and/or harness so they don’t get tangled.
Once your puppy is used to their harness and collar, it’s time to add the leash. Start by allowing your puppy to drag it around until he or she doesn’t seem to mind it. Then, you can take your pup on short walks around the house. Gradually move the walks to the yard and then, once your puppy has the hang of walking on the leash (i.e. he follows you) you can move on to short walks in the neighborhood. (Just make sure your puppy has the proper rounds of vaccinations before venturing out of the safety of your home.)
When to Teach Additional Skills
Similar to people, dogs are different when it comes to learning. Some dogs pick up training, commands, and tricks right away, while others take a little longer. Before you move on to more advanced skills such as “rollover,” “shake,” “leave it,” or “wait,” make sure you get the foundation down. And remember: Training never really ends. As a pet parent, it’s your job to keep up your training, continually practice known commands, and move on to advanced training as your dog grows.
Training is essential. It builds trust, helps you bond, and teaches critical skills that last a lifetime.
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