What Is The Best Age to Start Training My Dog?
Clients often ask me, "When should I start training my dog? Can old dogs learn new tricks?" The truth is, if you are living with your dog you are already training her! Every word, every, touch, every interaction of any kind is dog training. The real question is what is your dog learning? To discover what your dog is learning look at your dog’s behavior! She will show you what she has learned every time.
I read an article today in Dog Fancy about training puppies. The latest research shows that puppies begin learning at 3 weeks of age. I did not need these research findings to know this. I have raised several litters of puppies and I start actively training them at 3 weeks old. Uh-oh… The chances are good that your puppy is well past this age! Fortunately any dog of sound mind and body can be trained regardless of her age. It is easier the younger that you start. I think a lazy old dog made up the phrase ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. Or, perhaps the old dog’s owner.
I start socializing my own puppies at 7 weeks old and begin taking them to class and daycare at 9 weeks old. I understand the vaccination risk. I do not take my puppies to public places, only places where I know the population is vaccinated. It is more important to me that my puppy grows up people and dog friendly. Years ago, I raised and showed Rottweilers. This breed is very susceptible to parvo. I chose early training and socializing and it always worked well for me and the puppy. This is a choice you need to make with your veterinarian. Even if you choose to keep your puppy at home, you can and should be actively training her. Our Puppy Jump Start lesson is the ideal place to start training.
Uh-oh again…Your puppy is not really a puppy any more? The answer now becomes: the best time to start training your puppy is NOW! Sometimes an owner will tell me that the timing isn’t good for them to come to class. The issue with this thinking is that the puppy is getting older and is practicing the behavior patterns she is being taught. Consider one of our boot camp programs if there just is not enough time in the day (between baseball, piano lessons, work and carpool…) to actively train your puppy.
All this being said the best answer to the question, ‘When should I start training my dog?’, is the day that you are ready to start!