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With so many puppy training services popping out all over the web, it can be difficult to pick a reliable one that also meets your needs and expectations. So how do you choose a puppy training class?
When searching for the right puppy training class, there are several things to take into account. You’ll need a reputable service with certified trainers that use methods you’re comfortable with. You should look for a clean, calm, and controlled environment, where your pup can practice necessary training skills and learn how to socialize.
Also, you’ll need to factor in your own schedule and financial situation and work out whether you and your pet would benefit more from online or in-person training.
Puppy training is extremely important when it comes to your pet’s mental and physical wellbeing, and it can improve the way the two of you communicate.
In this article, we’re going to cover all the ins and outs on puppy training, from the training schedule and techniques to what you should look for in a dog trainer.
Why is puppy training important?
Every dog owner dreams of a well-behaved pet, but that doesn’t happen overnight. Training your puppy requires putting in a lot of time and effort, but the results will be worth your while.
Socializing your puppy means teaching them to be comfortable around people and other animals. With puppies, openness to new experiences is at its peak between 3 and 12 weeks of age. After that, they may become a little more cautious about things they haven’t encountered before. Therefore, there’s a crucial window of opportunity for puppies to learn how to interact properly with pets and humans, and puppy training is a great place to start.
Puppy training helps your pet learn how to adapt to any social situation. They learn social skills in a controlled and relaxed setting, and they learn to be well-behaved in any environment, even the one that contains distractions.
Depending on the class you choose, your puppy will experience plenty of off-leash play, which will help them communicate with other dogs and avoid issues like nipping and biting.
Also, training lessons help improve the way you communicate with your pet and strengthen your bond. Puppies don’t instinctively understand what we want them to do, so with the help of training, you’ll be able to ask your dog to perform a particular behavior and teach them how to respond properly. That way, your pup will begin to respect your guidance, developing a line of communication and trust along the way.
Obedience and life skills
Through training, your puppy will learn some essential life skills, such as proper potty behavior and being confident when left alone. The latter is achieved with crate training, and it can also speed up the potty training process. Becoming accustomed to crates means having a quiet, safe spot, it reduces separation anxiety, and it enables you to take your pet with you wherever you go.
Puppy training also helps reduce unwanted behavior, such as digging, chewing, or barking. You’ll be able to establish boundaries and teach them good manners at home and in public places. A well-trained dog will be able to join you in a variety of environments and activities.
Good communication is key to keeping your pup safe. Your dog will be trained to respond to your voice commands, so you’ll be able to keep them under control in all kinds of environments and situations. This is especially important in outdoor settings when your dog isn’t on a leash, where voice commands can prevent confrontations with other dogs or animals or prevent your dog from running out on a busy street.
Also, training will enable adults and kids alike to keep even larger dogs under control and avoid any potentially dangerous situations.
How to choose the best puppy training class
While searching for the right training class for your puppy, there are several things to bear in mind, especially if you opt for group classes.
Health and hygiene requirements
Reliable training programs require up-to-date vaccinations and proof of health before allowing puppies to sign up for classes. This is essential because a puppy’s immune system is still developing and they can catch infections more easily than adult dogs. Training programs that don’t ask for proof of vaccination are best avoided.
You should also pay attention to the cleanliness of the facility. The classroom should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent the spreading of viruses and bacteria. Puppies in training are prone to having potty accidents due to all the activities and excitement, so high hygiene levels are necessary to avoid your pet getting exposed to germs.
A quality training program will have a transparent sanitation protocol, so don’t be afraid to ask for more information. Most training facilities use vet-approved cleaning products such as Neogen or Virkon on a weekly basis. They will also do regular cleaning in between with pet-safe products with a mild, natural formula, without the use of potentially toxic chemicals.
Safety and temperature
Safety should be a top priority for owners and trainers alike. It’s important that a training facility has non-slip surfaces to avoid any potential accidents. Also, outlets should be covered and wires should be kept out of a puppy’s reach.
If off-leash play is part of the training curriculum, make the area is secure and that your puppy can’t escape.
Class atmosphere and size
A stimulative environment coupled with puppy play can get quite exuberant and loud, so things can get out of control easily if not in the right hands. The trainer must be in control of the environment, but this is also influenced by the size of the class.
A quality training program will have a limited number of dogs in the class to make sure every puppy gets personal attention, and that all dogs are safe during playtime. A class of six puppies is a good ratio for most trainers as they’ll be able to get to know every puppy’s temperament and personality traits and give personalized feedback on how you should approach their training.
Some dogs may be more cautious than others and may have a hard time adjusting to so many new faces and activities. Some training facilities have designated quiet spots for shy dogs to help them open up and acclimate to the new situation.
Some dogs are shy, while others can be overly assertive and provoke or harass other puppies. A trainer should make sure that puppies prone to pestering are taught how to resist the urge to bite and control their impulses better. Also, a trainer should work to boost confidence in shy dogs.
Mixing dog sizes or not?
Some training programs separate puppies by size, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are facilities that simply don’t have enough space to accommodate large breeds, or they want puppy owners to feel comfortable and not intimidated by larger dogs. Don’t shy away from exposing your pet to dogs of various sizes.
Interaction with different-sized dogs will help your puppy create positive associations with small and large dogs alike, and it will prevent any fearful reactions in the future. That said, if you choose a class that allows breeds of all sizes to play together, proper supervision is necessary so that every puppy has a fun and enjoyable time.
Positive reinforcement training
Always choose a class that uses positive reinforcement training techniques. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding good behavior, such as giving your puppy a treat when they do something you want them to. The more you reward a particular behavior, the more your puppy will choose to do it.
Positive reinforcement helps strengthen the bond you have with your pet and it improves your communication. Your puppy will become more confident and have more trust in you.
Positive reinforcement can also help reduce unwanted behavior. For example, while in a class, you can teach your puppy that jumping on people won’t get them attention. You should be consistent in ignoring them when they jump and reward them when they sit nicely. This will improve your pup’s interaction not just with friends and family, but also with strangers.
Training methods such as clicker training, force-free, fear-free, reward-based, and science-based training are ideal for puppies. These techniques focus on offering praise or treats when your dog does something good, and they involve a variety of effective and humane strategies you can implement to get the desired behavior.
We’ll explain each of these techniques in greater detail later on.
Enrichment and positive associations
A good training class should provide various types of mental and physical enrichment, such as allowing puppies to explore different surface textures or obstacles and providing them with food puzzles.
Also, a class could be a perfect environment for introducing potentially scary household items such as umbrellas, vacuum cleaners, wheelchairs, grooming tools, and so on. A slow and gradual introduction to such objects or even people wearing new items like sunglasses or hats can help the puppies realize there’s nothing to be afraid of. Of course, good behavior should always be rewarded with treats.
Certified or experienced trainers
Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer, but not everyone has the necessary education and experience to be considered a reliable and quality instructor.
A good trainer must meet extensive requirements, such as passing exams, spending countless hours with clients, getting reviewed by peers, and obtaining references. To meet the regular requirements, a dog trainer must be motivated and committed to understanding dogs’ behavior and learning how to train them using humane techniques.
There are several factors to take into account when searching for a quality trainer, including their experience, certifications, years in the business, and puppy training philosophy (more on that later).
Bonus if the trainer has put titles on dogs in competitions. This is a proven sign that they have trained the dog to a level of success in an objective evaluation and setting.
Online vs in-person puppy training
There’s no right answer when it comes to choosing online or in-person puppy training classes. It depends on your needs, preferences, and schedule.
How does online puppy training work?
Virtual training involves a dog trainer doing live online sessions with clients (although some trainers may only offer recorded video sessions), using video apps like Zoom, Facetime, or Google Meet, which most people already have on their phones or computers. Some trainers use apps specifically designed for virtual dog training, like GoodPup, which offers built-in features like written notes from a trainer, a homework tracker, and 24/7 chat.
A committed trainer will be able to figure out the core issue quickly after watching you interact with your pet. They will observe your tone of voice, body language, and how your dog responds to your actions.
After seeing the interaction, a trainer will be able to show you how to properly approach training your puppy and resolving the issues.
The pros of virtual training
Online training allows you to have a much more flexible schedule, so you can work around your personal life. Typically, online trainers have more time slots available than group classes, so you’d be able to practice training whenever it’s most convenient for you and your pup.
Virtual training is also less expensive than group classes, and you wouldn’t have to worry about getting proof of vaccinations on time or age or size restrictions, as everything is done from the comfort of your home. Also, training at home reduces the risk of your puppy catching an infection.
Another benefit of online training is that it can tackle specific issues, such as uncontrolled barking on cats. While puppy classes usually have a more general learning program, virtual training can help you address specific behaviors. You’ll have more time to perfect certain commands and correct the unwanted behavior at your own pace.
The cons of virtual training
One of the downsides of puppy training at home is the lack of socialization with other dogs. Your puppy may be missing out on playtime, walks, or simply being around other puppies, which is essential when it comes to developing social skills.
Another drawback is that your dog would only be learning to listen to you while you’re at home. But the outside world is much more chaotic than indoor environments, and your puppy needs to be equipped to deal with distractions and still perform desired behaviors.
Also, online training doesn’t give you access to shared learning. In a class, you can watch other dog owners work with their puppies and hear the questions they ask the trainer, so everyone learns together. For example, you may be struggling with a particular method and a fellow student in the class may share a different method that’s worked for them and it may work for you too.
Both online and in-person training have their benefits and downsides, but it’s not an either-or conflict. You can start with training your puppy virtually, with minimum distractions, and move on to group classes once you’ve already taught your dog a few commands.
Interested in finding out more? Check out our article reviewing some available option for online puppy training.
Different types of puppy training
There are different types of puppy training, aimed at teaching different kinds of behaviors. Here are some of the common types of puppy classes.
Socialization classes involve teaching your puppy social skills, like how to properly interact with other dogs and humans. These classes usually take the form of off-leash play and they are a good opportunity for puppies to learn how to communicate with fellow canines, control behavior, balance their impulses, and engage in fair, bite-free play.
The goal of socialization classes is to take advantage of that crucial socialization window during which puppies are most receptive to new experiences. Research has shown puppy socialization classes can prevent future behavioral problems, such as disobedience and fear of strangers.
In fact, puppies that attend classes are less likely to show nervousness or suffer from separation anxiety.
A well-supervised puppy play can also help shy dogs become more open. At first, shy puppies can interact with one or two similarly gentle dogs, and after they become more confident, they can join the whole group. In contrast, the trainer can gently interrupt overly assertive puppies and give them a short time-out if they aren’t behaving nicely.
When it comes to dog-dog communication, your puppy can learn how to signal a friendly intent during playtime or the need for a break. Your instructor can teach you how to understand your dog’s signals and read their body language while playing. That way you’ll be able to detect whether your pup is feeling comfortable or stressed in any situation and if play behavior has become inappropriate.
Depending on the program’s curriculum, socialization classes can also involve dealing with handling (your dog’s response to nail clipping, being lifted, being examined by the vet, etc.), bite inhibition, and crate training, among other things.
Socialization opportunities should extend beyond training classes. Try to expose your puppy to a variety of sights, smells, and sounds, and get your family involved. Most importantly, make every new experience a fun and pleasant one by providing your pets with treats and praise, so that they can build positive associations.
Obedience classes focus on basic training cues, such as sit, down, leave it, coming when called, and loose leash walking. Some can include more advanced commands, such as rollover and formal heeling. Obedience classes can also involve addressing issues such as uncontrollable barking, chewing, nipping, and digging.
There are different types of obedience classes, starting from those designed for pups as young as eight weeks, and later progressing to programs like puppy socialization classes can prevent future behavioral problems, AKC Canine Good Citizen certification, and advanced obedience classes.
Some schools also offer sports classes your puppy can attend after completing basic obedience classes, such as agility, AKC Rally, tricks, and Flyball.
Puppies haven’t had a chance to learn self-control yet, so potty accidents in your home are bound to happen. Instead of getting mad at your dog for doing something they have no control over, you need to potty train them.
The key to potty training is consistency and patience. Controlling your dog’s diet, providing them with regular exercise and frequent walks outside, creating a daily potty schedule, and reinforcing your puppy for “going” outside will result in success.
Crates and puppy pads can be effective tools in potty training. Since dogs don’t like to soil in their sleeping area, crates will teach them how to “hold it.”
However, you should bear in mind that crates need to be appropriately sized. They need to be spacious enough so that your dog can lie down, stand up, and turn around. However, crates shouldn’t be too large because puppies can eliminate on one side of the crate and conclude that it’s acceptable to use that corner for “doing their thing.”
When puppies feel the urge to go, they will signal it with whining and scratching – this is a sign that you need to take them out of the crate immediately, and you should never delay it.
Ideally, you should train your puppy to go outside, but this isn’t a viable solution for everyone. That’s where puppy pads come in. Puppy pads give your pet the option of eliminating in an approved spot at home. They can also serve as a transition tool for teaching your dog to go outside – you can move the pad toward the door step by step until you reach the final spot where you want your dog to go.
Remember to reward your puppy every time they go in the right place.
In addition to being a useful tool in potty training, crates can also be efficient in reducing separation anxiety.
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s necessary to find a crate that’s appropriately sized – not too big and not too small. Plastic or metal crates are the best choice for puppies, as the ones made of fabric can be mistaken for chewing toys by your pup.
When it comes to crate training, it’s important to create positive associations so that your puppy can link the time spent in a crate with something pleasant and soothing. You can place soft and cozy bedding together with your dog’s favorite treat or toys inside and leave the door open. As you make progress, you can slowly increase the time your puppy stays inside the crate with the door closed.
You should never push, pull or force your puppy to go inside a crate – use only positive reinforcement. In the beginning, it’s a good idea to crate train your dog for short periods of time while you are home, in the same room, if possible. That way your puppy won’t associate the crate with you leaving. Then you can gradually work on leaving the room and eventually leaving the house for a short amount of time.
You can also crate your puppy for meals or place a crate right next to your bed at night so that your puppy doesn’t feel alone. You can also reach your hand down for them to sniff it or touch it – this will provide extra reassurance and keep them calm.
Another option is to clicker train your puppy to go in the crate on command. You can break down the behavior into smaller steps – click and offer a treat when your pup makes small movements, such as going near the crate, having their nose in the door, then placing one foot in, and so on.
Leash training is often a part of socialization classes, and it focuses on training your puppy to politely walk on a loose leash. It’s a good idea to introduce your pet to a collar or a harness and a leash first so that they can get used to the feeling. You can start practicing in your home, with minimal distractions, and teach your puppy to come to you.
Once your pet becomes more confident, you can take them outside. It’s important not to yank or drag if your pup starts misbehaving – it won’t be effective. Instead, stand very still and refuse to move until your dog comes back to you.
Another good leash training strategy is to let your puppy choose the route around the yard and follow them, provided they aren’t going somewhere they could get hurt. When it comes to teaching your puppy to follow you while on the leash, you can lure them with treats, toys, or some sweet baby talk!
Puppies will often bite, chew, and mouth on people’s hands and clothes, which may seem cute when they are young, but it can become a serious issue as they grow older. Nipping or mouthing tends to get worse at around 4-6 months of age when they begin teething. Bite inhibition refers to a dog’s ability to moderate the force of its bite.
Puppies usually learn bite inhibition during play with other puppies, so this type of training is often incorporated in socialization classes. An instructor may teach bite inhibition by giving overly enthusiastic puppies a time-out and leaving them to calm down.
Also, puppies learn a lot from their mom and siblings while still with the litter, so it’s essential for them to stay with their mom for at least 6 weeks, ideally from 8 to 12 weeks.
To prevent biting, you can give your puppy an alternative item to chew on, like a chewing toy. When your dog chomps, you can cry out like another puppy would – the sound will surprise them and give you enough time to redirect their teeth to a toy. Plus, your puppy will instinctively understand that such a sound means something bad.
Also, while playing with your puppy, you can practice non-contact forms of play, such as fetch and tug-of-war, rather than having your hands involved.
Training techniques explained
There are several types of positive reinforcement training that your instructor may use in class.
Clicker training involves marking the desired behavior of your dog and rewarding it with a treat. When your puppy is doing what you want them to, you mark the behavior by pushing the button on a clicker, after which you immediately reward them with a tasty treat. That way, your pup will associate the clicking sound with something good that they’ve done, which was followed by a reward (treats or toys.)
Clicker-training your puppy is extremely beneficial as it provides them with mental and physical enrichment while also boosting their confidence and improving communication between the two of you. With enough practice and repetition, the desired behavior will eventually turn into a habit, so the clicker will no longer be necessary. For more, read our article on “How to Clicker Train a Dog.”
Shaping involves the same concept as clicker training, but instead of a clicker, you usually use a verbal marker. With this method, you give rewards for a succession of small behaviors that lead to a bigger, final one.
A good example of shaping is the hot-and-cold game. When the puppy is on the right track or getting warmer, he gets praise or a reward. When they are off track or colder, they don’t get anything. By playing this game and getting more selective about how close the puppy has to be to the end behavior to get a reward, you shape that behavior.
Force-free training means that no force or punishment is used to train your puppy. It’s a type of positive reinforcement, which means that your puppy learns to connect the desired behavior with praise and rewards.
Through force-free training, your dog learns proper manners without intimidation, threats, or pain. Your puppy isn’t coerced into doing anything, they choose to behave in a particular way, without the use of choke chains, shock collars, or aggressive physical manipulation, such as hitting, kicking, or jerking the leash hard.
Force-free training also involves negative punishment, which consists of correcting behavior by ignoring it and not providing a treat for it. For example, you can ignore your dog barking at you to get attention. When your puppy realizes they’re not being rewarded for such behavior, they learn that there is something wrong with it.
However, this isn’t the case with every type of unwanted behavior, which is the downside of strictly following this training method. Dogs find some bad behaviors to be really fun, such as chasing cars, stealing food off the counter, or barking through the fence at the neighbor’s dog. These behaviors are rewarding to a dog in and of themselves, so the mere act of ignoring them doesn’t make them go away.
Fear-free training focuses on taking care of your puppy’s emotional wellbeing during visits to the vet and home care. Fear-free trainers are equipped to prepare your dog for what to expect during vet exams and procedures and they help in alleviating fear and anxiety your puppy might be feeling.
In addition to ensuring your puppy has a stress-free experience at a veterinary clinic, these techniques can also be used at home for regular activities like grooming or for some specific vet-prescribed care plans.
As we’ve already mentioned, reward-based training revolves around positive reinforcement – rewarding behavior you like with toys, treats, or verbal praise to increase its frequency.
However, reward-based training isn’t based on rewards alone – it also includes strategies for correcting and redirecting unwanted behaviors. As we’ve mentioned earlier, ignoring a particular behavior doesn’t always make it go away, and many trainers that use the reward-based method will also stop the puppies in their class from doing the wrong thing, or scold them when they’re naughty.
A great example of this is the barking dog – if you start yelling at them for barking, you may inadvertently reinforce that behavior, as your dog perceives the yelling as attention and may continue to bark. However, yelling something short, sharp, and loud can be highly effective in stopping your pup from barking, or anything else they’re not supposed to do.
Science-based or evidence-based training practices involve relying on up-to-date research to show dog owners how to modify their pet’s behavior.
Science-based animal trainers collect information from fields such as comparative psychology, welfare, and applied behavior analysis to ensure they are applying and recommending humane, ethical, and effective training techniques.
However, it’s important to note that any training method can be misused, intentionally or not. Positive reinforcement training requires good timing and the ability to read your dog’s body language to ensure that you’re reinforcing the right behavior. If you want your dog to stop barking, you need to click and treat when they actually stop barking, not during it, or you’ll end up reinforcing the opposite of what you want to happen.
For science-based training to work, you need to use your practices correctly, and it’s essential to be clear, fair, and consistent.
We do not endorse the following types of puppy training techniques:
Alpha Dog Training
Alpha dog training method relies on the dominance theory, which suggests that the majority of undesired behaviors, such as aggression, occurs because a dog is trying to dominate their owner or be the alpha dog in the pack. Therefore, the solution to behavioral issues is to establish dominance over your dog.
This theory is based on studying the behavior of wolves, and it assumes that dogs, having evolved from wolves, will exhibit the same traits. However, dogs are different from wolves, not only in terms of anatomy but also mentally and socially.
Unlike wolves, dogs have evolved to live near people. According to research, dogs that display aggression are usually not trying to be dominant – the aggressive behavior is often a signal of an underlying issue, such as fear or anxiety.
Balanced training method involves the use of both reward-based techniques and aversive techniques. In this case, dogs are taught that their behaviors and the choices they make can result in both pleasant and unpleasant experiences.
A puppy class is all about learning new behaviors and life skills, so trainers should stick to positive reinforcement to shape those skills. Aversion therapy or physical punishment should never be used to teach new things, but when it comes to polishing already established behaviors, using softer aversives is unlikely to damage the human-animal bond and it can be highly effective.
For example, during leash training, if you turn around and go the other way when your dog is pulling, you’re using aversive therapy. However, this type of small aversive won’t cause any harm to your pup, and it will work in achieving nice leash manners.
There is a difference between abuse and corrections. Kicking, hitting, forceful pushing, and aggressive shoving are all examples of abusive behavior, but saying “no” to your dog in a clear, firm way to prevent them from doing something wrong isn’t abusive, it simply means correcting their behavior so that it wouldn’t happen again. Also, it will give them a much clearer idea of what they should and shouldn’t do.
That said, corrections in training need to be used properly – they are only appropriate when your pup already knows the skill, not while learning it. Using force and physical punishment to teach new skills is not only ineffective, but it can also cause trauma to your pet that can be difficult to mend.
Just like balanced training, blended type of training combines positive reinforcement method with aversive techniques. Research has shown that dogs that are trained using the blended method are more frequently in a tense state, pant more in training, and display stress-related behaviors more than dogs trained using positive reinforcement only.
LIMA training method
LIMA stands for “least intrusive, minimally aversive”, and this training method focuses on increasing the use of positive reinforcement and eliminating the use of punishment in animal training.
LIMA doesn’t justify the use of aversive methods and tools, such as electronic, choke or prong collars, instead of some other effective interventions and strategies, such as counter-conditioning and desensitization. LIMA trainers must be adequately educated and skilled to ensure they are using the least intrusive and aversive procedure.
LIMA trainers offer the learner as much choice and control as possible, so the learner gets to decide what may be reinforcing. The trainers are required to treat each individual of any species with respect and awareness of their nature, preferences, abilities, and needs.
Puppy training gear
When it comes to leash training equipment, you’ll need a comfortable collar or a harness that’s adjusted to fit correctly. You should be able to slide two fingers comfortably under the collar. Harnesses are useful for added security, and you can use them to make sure that your dog won’t slip their collar.
Also, you’ll need an appropriately-sized leash that isn’t too heavy and doesn’t exert pressure on your pup’s neck and spine. Pay attention to the length as well – too short leashes may encourage pulling, while extendable leashes aren’t a good option for walking as they give you less control. The optimal length is approximately 2 meters, which will allow your pup to explore the surroundings while staying within the limits of the leash length.
If your puppy continues to pull strongly on the leash even after training, you can try a front-attach harness, which is a common aid in stopping dogs from pulling.
What to look for in a dog trainer
Before you sign up for your first training class, you need to be sure that your puppy will be in the right hands. Here are some things to take into account when searching for the right dog trainer.
Asking around is always worth doing – if you know a friend or a neighbor who recently signed up for a puppy training class, ask them about their experience and impressions. You can also check out online reviews to get a sense of how a particular training program works and is it right for you.
Your vet clinic will likely be able to recommend local trainers, especially if they collaborate with a particular school. Your vet will also have more information as they are likely to hear from other clients about their experiences with different programs, so you can get a bigger picture.
Make sure to check if your potential instructor attended a reputable training program and what certifications they have. Here are some of the well-known certifications that meet the industry standards:
You’ll find more helpful resources here.
It’s always a good idea to look for trainers who’ve already been in the business for some time rather than novices. Animal trainers with substantial experience have had a fair share of different clients, so they are equipped with dealing with all kinds of situations and behaviors. They will likely be able to help you regardless of the challenges you and your pup are facing.
Have their trained dogs received recognition in a sport?
If your potential instructor has trained dogs that received awards in sporting events or competitions, it’s a solid indication of their competence and commitment, so be sure to ask for more information.
Puppy training philosophy
Make sure to check your potential instructor’s approach to training puppies, the tools and techniques they use, and whether they give a sense of someone who’s keeping everything under control. A trainer who resorts to yelling, using shaker cans, or physical corrections to teach basic cues won’t be helpful and can damage your relationship with your pup.
How old should a puppy be to start training?
Your puppy can sign up for classes as early as 7 or 8 weeks of age. However, bear in mind that you’ll need to have them vaccinated before they can enroll in a training program. Vets recommend at least one round of vaccines and the first round of deworming 7 days before puppies can be exposed to the public and other dogs.
In what order should I train my puppy?
Once your puppy turns 8 weeks, you can start developing its training schedule.
8-10 weeks old
During this age, you should start potty training and crate training your puppy. Also, you can introduce basic commands, such as sit and come.
You should start socializing your puppy with friends and family first so that they can get used to interactions with people. You should also encourage eye contact and teach them to respond to being called by their name.
You can also introduce a daily schedule that includes feeding and playtimes as well as training and nap times.
It’s also a good idea to start redirecting their chewing and mouthing by giving them chew toys.
10-12 weeks of age
During this age, you can continue to provide opportunities for socialization by introducing new people and other dogs (after your pup has been vaccinated). You can also start training impulse control by having your puppy wait for their food and water bowls.
You can teach your dog other basic cues, such as Place, Down, and Heel (around the house), and you can play fetch with them.
If you haven’t done it already, you can introduce your pup to a harness and a leash, first at home, and later outside.
At this stage, you can introduce more complex obedience commands at home, such as Stay and Leave it. You can also try out combinations like Sit-Down-Stay-Come-Place.
In addition to commands, you can continue socializing your puppy by introducing them to new puppies.
This is also the time when some puppies may go through a fear period. If your pup starts acting afraid of things they were comfortable with before, hold off introducing them to new places or objects. Instead, keep them comfortable by providing them with positive experiences.
For example, if your puppy starts getting nervous about strangers handling them, take them to quiet parks and keep them away from busy areas like playgrounds, but let them watch people from a distance.
4-6 months old
At this point, you can take them on long walks to new places, such as the park, and start practicing commands outside.
This is also a good time to start weaning them off of food rewards. You can do it by asking your dog to perform several commands before you give them a treat, or by praising them or showing them affection when they do something well, without providing food.
6 months – 1 year
By now, your pup should know all of the basic commands and navigate crate training, potty training, and socialization well. You should continue to reinforce commands by adding more distance between you and your pup (use Recall to practice your puppy coming to you from a long-distance), have them hold commands for a longer period of time, and add distractions.
It goes without saying that you should practice in a safe outdoor setting. But don’t ease up the training practices at home – staying consistent and sticking to the schedule is key to success!
Around this time, your puppy will transition into their teen years, and once the hormones start kicking in, things can get out of hand. Puppies may forget what they’ve learned before, so if this happens, be sure to revise proper behaviors. Also, you can revoke privileges, such as running loose at the park or staying loose in the house at night.
What is the best age to start crate training a puppy?
Just like with socialization classes, you can start crate training your puppy when they are 8-10 weeks old. Most often, at this age puppies are brought home by their new owners. Crate training will help them become independent and get used to spending some time alone.
Key takeaways on puppy training
Puppy training classes are extremely helpful in teaching your dog basic obedience and how to develop social skills. Classes provide mental and physical enrichment, reduce anxiety and fear, and help your dog gain confidence.
Training also builds trust and communication between the two of you, as you’ll be able to understand your dog’s signals, intents, and read their body language and emotions.
Also, your puppy will be able to adapt to any environment and social situation and be at your side at all times.
Whether you opt for online classes or group training, it’s important to find a program that uses methodology you’re comfortable with
When it comes to training, it’s important to remember that consistency and patience are crucial for success. Each puppy learns at a different speed, so it’s essential not to rush them and let them work out things at their own pace.