when should you start training your puppy

When Should You Start Training Your Puppy?

Whether or not you want to schedule training sessions within the first days of bringing your new puppy home, he will be learning from you the moment he steps into your house.

A newborn puppy starts to learn when it opens it’s eyes for the first time and starts to walk. So, when should you start training your new puppy or dog when you bring him home?

The answer is: immediately. If you bring a dog home from a shelter dog’s he can also learn from the very first second. It doesn’t matter how old your dog is, he can still learn even if he is 10 years old. Formal training usually starts when they are 6 months old.

What we want to achieve with our puppy is to train him as many good behaviors as possible before he reaches adulthood. Every young dog goes through a phase of curiosity and fear and you will need to be there for him.

What Should I Teach My Puppy First?

There are a few principles your puppy should be learning from day one and I am not talking about sit or stay.

A key point to quickly get your dog comfortable with you and your family is teaching him your daily routine. Puppies love routines and they can quickly adapt to them.

You can grab a piece of paper and write down what a typical day of your family looks like.

Structure it like a timeline where you write the time of the day in one column and the description in the other. Now, decide on where to fit in your dogs schedule.

A puppy needs to be fed three times a day until the age of 6 months. At 8 weeks old he needs to go out every 30 minutes to 2 hours. You will need to walk him and play with him to get his energy out.

Incorporate a few training sessions here and there. The attention span of a new puppy is fairly short but you should train him daily.

Key points also include potty training and crate training. While housebreaking your dog is mandatory, the crate is a very useful tool to support potty training and to provide your puppy with a safe and comfortable space.

Your Puppies Routine

Ask yourself these additional questions:

  • where will my dog eat every day?
  • where will my dog sleep every day?
  • is my dog allowed on the couch or on the bed?
  • will I crate him?
  • when will we go for a walk and for how long?
  • how often does he need a potty break?
  • where is his potty spot outside?
  • when will he go to bed?

Besides setting a clear daily schedule and routine for your dog you also have to consider his boundaries. Like I said, is he allowed to sleep with you in bed?

Once decided there is no going back. You have to be consistent with your rules because your dog won’t understand it if you suddenly stop letting him on the couch. He will think: “What did I do wrong? What changed?” He will be very confused which could give him a kick in his self-confidence and we don’t want that.

My Rottweiler for example is allowed on the couch but not on the bed. Not because we find it unhygienic or annoying but because you do not want a 120 lbs dog to take up your whole bed. And sure it would have been cute to sleep with her when she was little but a puppy doesn’t stay that tiny.

Create boundaries for your dog even if there doesn’t have to be any. My puppy is not allowed to be in the kitchen. We just decided on a room because boundaries will help your dog feel secure.

He can calmly roam through the house knowing that the bedroom is okay to be in and the bathroom but not the kitchen. It will also show him that he cannot go everywhere he likes to and that you are in charge to show him, so he doesn’t have to decide on its own.

Should I use Treats to Train My Puppy?

Positive reinforcement is probably the best training method for a puppy and an adult dog. Treats go perfect with these training techniques and most puppies love some yummy food. Make sure to use healthy low calory dog treats for every training. If yours is not so excited about food, you can also train him with his favorite toy.

The best way to use treats in positive reinforcement training is for luring. Luring means that you hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose and he will automatically follow it into your wished position. That way you can quickly teach your puppy basic obedience commands like sit or down.

Will My Puppy Listen to Me without Treats?

Many new dog owners are concerned that if you always train your puppy with treats, he will eventually not listen to you without treats.

While this is not true, you can totally start to phase out the treats once he becomes a bit older as you won’t always have treats with you.

What we want to create is a secondary praise besides the treats. Train your puppy as usually, put a treat into your hand and tell your dog the command.

If he has obeyed the command praise him with a vocal cue like “Good Boy” and a pat, while giving him a treat. After a few times, he will associate the vocal cue with praise and we can slowly phase out the treats and only feed him every few times.

If he has a favorite treat like cheese or cooked chicken, you will want to reserve that for example for leash training if your puppy pulls on the leash.

How to Train a Puppy to Sit

This is probably one of the very first obedience commands that people train a puppy and here is how to teach it:

  1. Grab a small treat and put it between your fingers.
  2. Get your puppy’s attention.
  3. Move with your hand from his nose towards his back to lure him into a sit.
  4. Once he sits you can add the vocal cue “sit”.
  5. After that you can repeat it a few times.

How Often Should I Train My Puppy?

A good amount of time would be at least 15 minutes spread throughout the day. You could do 5 minutes in the morning before work, in the afternoon and evening.

Frequently repeating basic obedience commands is very important for a puppy and you should always train him in each room of the house otherwise you will have “living room dog”.

But it doesn’t always have to be teaching and repeating commands. There are many situations throughout the day that that offer a perfect opportunity to teach your puppy the correct behavior.

For example, if he bites too much while playing, put in some bite inhibition training. If he always watches and begs while you are eating tell him what to do instead.

Let your puppy sit when opening the door. This will prevent him from running outside and getting too excited. You should also do this when letting him out of the car.

Before he gets his meals, let him work for it by doing some commands. Every second that you spend when training him as a puppy will help you later on.

Puppies Role in the Pack

I do not agree with many dog trainers that a dog needs to be dominated for him to know his role. For me, a dog is a family member and should be treated as such.

In nature, the alpha male wolf doesn’t oppress his pack members but he earns his role with respect. They respect him and his decisions.

Parents have a role of authority towards their children. They choose the rules and terms. They live in a family and good parents treat their children with understanding and respect to be treated the same way.

You should definitely be the pack leader but to earn that role you need to be consistent in your conduct and most people forget that.

That is the reason why you should never yell or throw things at your dog. Dogs don’t understand mood swings and if you do not react appropriately, your dog will never take you seriously because you are unpredictable.

Sudden anger or frustration doesn’t happen in dog psychology and you will lose his respect.

Those are the kind of dogs that get aggression or even snap at people because they are at constant stress to decide things. They think you are not capable of clear choices and will make decisions for you.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I have been searching around on the internet before getting my new puppy and your posts have helped me a lot!

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