Bringing home a new little furry friend is exciting, and those first days are often filled with a lot of snuggles and laughing as your puppy starts exploring the world. As you and your puppy settle into daily life the next step is to decide when to start training. Many new and first-time owners don’t realize just how soon you can start training your puppy, and how beneficial that can be.

Obedience Commands & Socialization: 7 to 8 weeks old

Despite their short attention spans, from a very early age puppies learn socialization skills and can pick up on basic obedience commands like “sit” and “stay”. The ideal time to begin training is around 7 to 8 weeks for most puppies, and the most effective training involves positive reinforcement and gentle commands. This is also the age to begin socializing your puppy to new people and new species, allowing them to explore and have new experiences.

Formal Training Classes: 7 to 12 weeks old

Some pet owners, especially those training a puppy for the first time, may prefer to enroll in dog training classes. These classes have the benefit of a trainer who can demonstrate appropriate techniques for training basic and more advanced commands. A trainer can also help spot potential behavior or training concerns and identify whether your puppy needs other formal dog training courses, such as individual sessions or immersion training. Additionally, group dog training sessions are a great place to start socializing your puppy to other pets and people in a controlled environment.

In the past some trainers recommended waiting until a puppy was 4 to 6 months old or until they were fully vaccinated before enrolling them in classes. But that actually misses a key socialization period in a puppy’s life and in that time he or she could develop behaviors that you will need to correct in the future (such as phobias or aggression), versus training good behaviors from the start. Talk to your veterinarian to make sure your puppy is healthy enough to begin training, get his or her first vaccines and deworming prior to the first class, and keep up with vaccinations during training. Find a trainer that requires all dogs in class to be up to date on vaccines to keep your puppy safe.

Training for Rescue Dogs

Dog owners who get a puppy from a local rescue are going to have a different timeline from those who get brand new puppies, depending on his or her background and situation. Talk to your veterinarian and the trainer about the right time to start, and the right type of classes (group or individual) for your rescue dog.

When you’re ready to start training classes for your puppy, contact The Driven Dog to discover more about our unique philosophy based on balance. It’s designed to help you communicate with your furry friend, learn how your own mood and body language can impact your pet, and what your dog’s body language and behavior can tell you.