Small golden coloured puppy sitting on a person's knee

Puppy Training Basics: When To Start, What Training To Choose And Which Behaviours To Work On First

Welcome Your Puppy To The Pack

Getting a puppy is an exciting time! Puppies have a way of making us smile. They are silly, sweet, loving little creatures — but they need help curbing some of their bad habits if you want them to be a well-behaved and welcome member of your family pack. For the first few days, it may seem like your puppy can do no wrong. But, eventually, the nipping, chewing, jumping and accidents will lose their charm and leave you wondering when you should start training your puppy and what you should teach them first. If this sounds like you, then read on! As a dog trainer with years of experience training puppies and dogs, I have some helpful puppy training advice to get you started on the right foot with your new furry friend. 

When Should You Start Training Your Puppy? 

Whether you intend to or not, you are training your puppy from the minute you bring him or her home. Because dogs learn so much through repetition, you will start to show them what is acceptable behaviour (and what isn’t) simply by letting things happen more than once. If every time they chomp your fingers they get pets and treats because you think they are being cute, you are teaching your puppy that finger-chomping is A O.K. in your house. This means that it is to your benefit to be intentional with your pup right from day one. 

So, when should you start training your puppy? Now! 

It’s never too early to start teaching a puppy boundaries and what qualifies as appropriate behaviour. This type of training will start at home while you get to know one another and while you wait for them to be fully vaccinated. Once they are about 10 weeks old, most puppies are ready to be socialized to new people and dogs and puppy classes become an option. 

Do Puppies Really Need Training?

There are many reasons why you should actively train your puppy. Not only will training help to resolve some unwanted puppy behaviours like nipping, chewing and jumping it will also: 

  • Be a great opportunity for you and your new puppy to bond
  • Exercise your puppy’s mind and keep them stimulated and engaged
  • Teach your puppy his or her role in your family 
  • Set the groundwork for future training and
  • Help to establish you as a good leader

Whether you want them to be service dogs, agility superstars or just a really great family pet, puppies definitely need training. All dogs thrive when they are secure in the knowledge of who is in charge, what the rules are and what is expected of them. That is not to say that they won’t test those boundaries from time to time (or more!) but if you don’t take the time to teach them right from wrong and nip problem behaviour in the bud your puppy troubles can turn into full-sized dog troubles and nobody wants that.

Whether you want them to be service dogs, agility superstars or just a really great family pet, puppies definitely need training.

What’s Better For Training My Puppy? DIY Training, Private Training or Group Classes?

There is no reason why the bulk of your training can’t happen at home — in fact, until your puppy is vaccinated and old enough to socialize it will all happen at home! You are the leader of your pack, after all. For you to be the one setting those boundaries, teaching commands, offering corrections as needed and rewarding successes just makes sense. That being said, if you aren’t an experienced dog owner or have a puppy that is really challenging there is no reason not to reach out for the help of a professional dog trainer. Even if you have years of experience with dogs, there is always something new to learn. 

Private Training For You And Your Puppy

For some people, having the 1-on-1 support of private training is where it’s at. 

Pros: Private training means you can go at your own pace, focus on learning how to handle yourself as a dog owner and really get to know what motivates your puppy. 

Cons: While private training gives your puppy a chance to meet one new person in a new setting (assuming training is not happening at your home) your puppy doesn’t get the chance to meet other dogs and isn’t building up a tolerance for noisy and busy spaces. 

Group Training For You And Your Puppy

Group training can be a really fun way to spend time with and train your puppy. 

Pros: Because of the group setting, you are socializing your puppy with other people, dogs and a space that will be full of noise and movement. Bonus: You will be surrounded by puppies. The cute factor cannot be overlooked. 

Cons: If you or your puppy are easily overwhelmed, a group class could be a lot to handle. Depending on the mix of puppies and people, how structured and productive the class is will vary as well. 

What Should I Teach My Puppy First?

Before you start working on formal commands, you can start teaching your dog some really important things. Start building your trust and communication by teaching your puppy his or her name, that it’s good to pee outside and that when they pay attention to you they are rewarded with pets and maybe even some treats.  Training requires communication so the more time to spend getting to know one another the better things will go when you move on to more structured training. 

Turner and Pooch puppy classes focus on preventing problem behaviours before they become habits. For that reason, we tend to focus less on commands and more on establishing boundaries and good behaviour. For example, at our group puppy classes here in Peterborough, we work on housebreaking, teaching your puppy to chill out (also known as “The Long Down” or “Sit On The Dog”) and will even work on establishing a “Place.” Depending on the group, we might also tackle teaching your puppy the concept of “4 on the floor” to stop them jumping up on people. 

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When you are ready to start teaching commands to your puppy, I recommend starting with the ones you will use most often in your day-to-day life. For most people, these include: 

  • Sit
  • Down 
  • Come
  • Let’s Go

Starting with simple and practical commands like the ones listed above will set you up for success as you move on in your training. Having a puppy that can walk on a leash and that comes when called will make life a whole lot easier, too! 

Start Training Your Puppy Early And Be Consistent.

Puppies are bundles of fun — but they can be a handful if you don’t take the time to train them. Start engaging with them and setting boundaries for them as soon as they come home. Then, when they are ready introduce more formal commands one at a time. Whatever method you choose for your training, be consistent and have fun. Your puppy will love the attention and will thrive with the leadership. If you need help, are looking to add some socialization into your training time or are ready to take your training to the next level, Turner & Pooch Dog Training offers both private and group training opportunities for puppies and adult dogs and the people who love them in Peterborough, ON. Sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop about classes, groups and training opportunities as they become available or Tell Us About Your Dog to explore private training options with the Turner and Pooch team.

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