Training is a very important part of a dog’s development and as their owner, it’s up to you to start training your puppy when you bring them home. Online training courses are one of the best ways to teach a dog all of the basic commands, like sit and stay, as well as general behavioral skills and social skills.
With the right training from a young age, your puppy will grow into a healthy, happy adult dog. But a lot of owners are unsure when they should start their training and how much a puppy is able to learn from a young age. You don’t need to be concerned about starting too early because puppies are designed to take in a lot, and the earlier you start, the better.
Training Starts From Birth
Before you are able to take your puppy home, it will have already been through some important parts of its training at the breeder. As soon as your new puppy is born, it starts to learn basic doggie manners from its parents and siblings. This early socialization with other dogs is very important and puppies begin to learn about interacting with humans as well as other dogs. For this reason it is very important that your breeder not let the puppy leave its litter until it is at least 8 weeks old.
Usually, puppies are ready to come home with you at 8 weeks, and you can start training right away. An 8 week old puppy is very curious and has a great capacity for learning, so they are able to learn some basic commands. This of course will vary according to breed. Dogs bred to work are selected for their ability to learn and may pick up things more quickly than other dogs.
The ideal window for puppy training is between 8 and 16 weeks old. It is beneficial to the puppy to experience many different aspects of life during this time, called socialization, so that they learn what a normal life will be like during the time they are the most open to taking in new information.
When you first bring your puppy home, you can start teaching them basic cues straight away. Things like sit, stay, and come are simple parts of puppy training that can be taught to an 8 week old puppy using positive reinforcement.
To teach them to sit, take a treat and move it over their head until they sit down. Then praise them and give them the treat. By repeating this process, you can get them to follow your basic commands.
Before you are able to take your puppy out for walks, you need to get them comfortable with a leash. An 8 week old puppy will not have complete vaccinations yet, so it is unsafe for them to go outside with other dogs that you are unsure if they have been vaccinated or not. However, you can start leash training indoors first where there are no distractions. Once you achieve some success indoors you can move outdoors where you and the puppy can be alone.
Begin by putting their collar or harness on for short periods and rewarding them with treats as they get used to it. Gradually increase the length of time they spend wearing it until they are very comfortable. You can then attach the leash and practice walking around the house.
Getting used to being handled
Puppies need to get used to being touched by you and other people, like the vet. You can start this training right away, simply by playing with them. Gently rub their ears and paws, and reward them with treats when you do. This will make them more comfortable being touched, so when they need to have their nails trimmed or their ears cleaned when they are older, it will be much easier.
Your puppy should feel comfortable in their crate but it takes time for them to get used to it. An 8 week old puppy can be put into its crate for short periods, starting at 10 minutes. Rewarding them with treats or even feeding them in the crate shows them that it’s a safe environment. Introduce them to their crate by putting their favorite toy in it or filling their food bowl and using that to lure them into the crate. It's important not to force them into their crate, rather you want to encourage them to venture into it of their own will.
Biting and toys
Around 10 to 12 weeks old your puppy will normally start chewing and biting things. It’s important that you intervene at this point to make sure that they do not start biting people and they know how to identify which things are toys. If they start biting at you or chewing furniture, redirect them to a toy immediately. As you repeat this, they will soon learn the boundaries. Puppies don't have hands to explore things so they do this by putting everything into their mouth. This is normal and a necessary part of their development.
Puppy potty training
It is important to begin potty training right away. The best way to begin is to decide on a potty spot and place your puppy there when they get home as soon as they get out of the car. They will likely have to go at that time and allowing them to scent that spot with their urine will cue them in the next time you come back to that spot. Routine is essential here, so let them out first thing in the morning and at regular intervals throughout the day, after a nap, after training, after eating or drinking. Every time they go to the toilet outside, reward them, use a command such as pee pee, and they will begin to associate that potty spot with the sensation of eliminating. There is a more detailed explanation in our course.
Puppies learn best between 8 and 16 weeks old, so it’s important that you get all of the most important training and socialization done during this period. Once they reach 6 months and enter adolescence, it is much harder to start their training from scratch. At that age, if you wait you will also have to break any bad habits they have learned. During this period, you still need to continue with training and build on what they have learned before, but they need a strong foundation before they reach 16 weeks old.
Tips For Training Your Puppy
Puppy training can be difficult and many people struggle to teach their new dog all of the right commands and behaviors in the window between 8 and 16 weeks. Training classes are designed to help you keep up with training and deal with any difficulties that you have with your puppy. However, they can be quite inconvenient for a lot of people. You should consider online puppy training so that you can be trained before your puppy comes home. Your understanding will take some time so it will be easier leaning what you need to learn before you have the added task of caring for a new puppy.
Consistency is essential when training a puppy, and online training helps you to remain consistent because it allows you to fit training around your own schedule. When you buy an online training course, you get full access to a range of videos and other resources that will give you everything you need to train an 8 week old puppy. Working through these resources at your own pace means that you can stay consistent and train your puppy during the period that they are most susceptible.
In the end it's important to understand that your puppy is ready for training as soon as you pick it up!