When I can start trainning my puppy

The energy that some dogs bring to can helps you to expel them quickly


Ι too grew up with “wait until they’re 6 months old and use a choke chain.” Thankfully, the world of dog behavior and training has evolved to where waiting until a dog is 6 months old is scientifically debunked, replaced with solid canine behavior knowledge that dictates early socialization and training.

So what does that mean in everyday terms? It means Chance needs to be socialized and trained – right away! Let’s break down a dog’s learning stages and shed some light on what’s going on at certain ages.

There’s an ideal window of time – from when a puppy is 21 days old until he’s 4 months old – that he needs to be exposed to many, many various types of stimuli, environments, people and other dogs, in as controlled a way as possible.

To avoid a bad experience, not just any ol’ dog should interact with the pup, but only dogs that are very good and patient with puppies. Make sure their vaccines are up-to-date for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo and parainfluenza  and the dogs haven’t been to a dog park that day.

The cost of secluding a young dog until his “vaccines are done” is very, very steep from a behavioral standpoint, so please talk with your veterinarian about this if Chance’s puppy vaccine cycle isn’t yet complete.

If pre-planned, you can properly socialize a dog! If you go to dogstardaily.com, you’ll find great ways to have a safe puppy party, introduce Chance to 50 or so new people a week in a safe manner, and get a springboard start on training and socialization information for you to discover the incredibly fun, gentle world of training with positive reinforcement and motivational techniques.

I highly recommend you begin a search for classes and individual training on the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) website. APDT’s goal is to continue educating people about these science-based methods and bring the best out of your dog and your relationship with him. Just click Trainer Search and type in your zip code, and a list of local trainers displays. I recommend speaking with at least three to five trainers before choosing one, and making sure none of them use harsh methods or equipment.

Classes are a great source for socialization. Your important point about wanting to be able to control Chance as he gets older and stronger should be addressed in class. But if classes don’t start soon, for safety’s sake it is more important at this point for a trainer to come to your home to give you one-on-one instruction.

Like you, Darlene, I was very frustrated with my dog-training options when I was younger, just putting up with unwanted behavior and inadvertently reinforcing it. Out of this frustration came a search for a trainer who could help me with my then 8-week-old dog who liked to bite my hands when I was grooming him. Twenty-five years ago, a trainer who would actually come to your home was very hard to find (not anymore, thankfully!). But when I did find her, and started learning about dog behavior and how to train in a gentle, non-dominant way, I was immediately hooked and became the trainer’s protégé.

I have a feeling that as you begin your quest, you’ll be just as enthusiastic and fall in love with training and behavior modification as it is done today with trainers who stay current on cutting-edge information and skills.

Very best of luck to you, and if you get a chance (no pun intended!), please let me know how things are progressing.