Do you have kids? Did you decide to wait and send them to school after they hit their teens? No, probably not. Unfortunately, this is still a common recommendation given to some novice dog owners—let the puppy grow up before starting training. By the time a dog is 6 months old, she is an adolescent, and as wild as a teenager who has never been asked to sit still in class and learn.
And there are dog owners that follow that advice! Many of you will remember “Marley”, and all the problems that author had with his Labrador Retriever. Remember the part where he is advised to let his dog grow up and start obedience training when he is old enough to benefit from classes? How many out there read that book and nodded their head in agreement?
“Waiting” is also a common belief where I live, and many new puppy owners will delay obedience training until six months. It is wrong though, and not the best thing for a puppy. Puppies can actually start training when only a few weeks old. I have begun basic training as early as 5 weeks, and since most new dog owners will not bring their puppy home until 8 weeks of age, their puppy is plenty old enough to start training.
There are a few things you need to remember when training a small puppy, though:
Differences in training a very young puppy and an older dog:
- No matter which training style you normally use, when working with a young puppy you must use treats and be positive. Make sure the treats taste good but don’t overdo it. Puppy tummies are small and fill up fast.
- Use a gentle voice, and never speak to your puppy as loudly as you would do with an adult dog. NEVER yell, and no matter how you plan on training a dog of any age, you should never hit your puppy or dog.
- Do not use a leash and lead your puppy around like you might do when training an adult dog.
- Don’t try to teach tricks. Your puppy may be able to pick up a few things, like “spin”, but she is still not as coordinated as an adult dog and some movements are difficult for her. If she becomes frustrated she is going to be more difficult to train later on.
- Keep your puppy training sessions short and fun.