You have just bought your puppy home, and one of the first questions owners ask is when to start training. It doesn’t matter whether you have a small dog or a big dog, puppy training should begin as soon as you bring them home.
Your puppy will be learning constantly. They learn from socialisation, other dogs and from direct puppy training. Training a puppy is not just about teaching your dog the behaviours you expect from them, but it is also about learning to communicate with one another. This is the foundation to having a great relationship with your dog, so they know what you expect from them given any situation or command.
How to Start Training a Puppy
Your puppy may join your home at around 8 weeks of age. They are going through a big change. They have just left their Mum and litter mates and are adjusting to life in your home. There’s a lot to take in.
A puppy doesn’t have a very long attention span, so training sessions should be short and fun for both of you. That way you are both more likely to stick with it.
Begin with training very basic commands like sit, stay and lay down. Treats can be a really useful tool to encourage your dog to move into a position like sit, and they can also be a very effective reward.
Positive Reinforcement training is a great way to encourage your dog to behave in the way you want them to. It is also a great way to build trust between you and your puppy.
Training sessions should be short in the very early days as a puppy has a very short attention span. Once your training session has finished end with some playtime so that you puppy knows that there is something really fun to look forward to at the end of their training.
Little and often is the best approach while your puppy is very young. As they get older, you can spend longer on training, and introduce different commands as they become more confident.
It is also a great time to introduce your puppy to leash walking, even if you just start in the house or the garden. Walking nicely on a leash is a key skill for any puppy to master. Introducing them to walking on a lead and the heal command can save you from pulling behaviour later on down the line.
When it comes to puppy training, think about the behaviours you would like in an older dog. Once you know what that looks like, you can introduce your puppy to those behaviours through training and set the foundations to having a great dog in the future.
Do I Need to go to Puppy Training Classes?
You do not need to go to puppy training classes to train your puppy but they can be useful for lots of reasons. There is a wealth of information on the internet about when to start training your puppy and how to go about it. You will find a lot of great puppy trainers on YouTube, that will get you started with your puppy training.
Going to puppy training classes alone is not enough to train your dog. It is the practice you do between the puppy classes that will train your puppy. Puppy training classes are however great for training your puppy in a distracting environment and socialisation. If this is your first puppy they can also be great for building your confidence as a new dog owner.
Training a puppy or a dog is an ongoing commitment. Your puppy will be continually exposed to new environments and distractions so training them to follow your commands even when a runner goes past or a squirrel is about to run up a tree is very important.
Puppy training is one of the most effective ways to keep your dog safe in any given situation. Working towards having reliable recall and not going through an open door without permission are great skills to have, but only come with a great deal of practise.