Woman training her puppy using treats

When Should You Start Training Your Puppy?

Congrats on adopting a puppy! Adding a new fluffy member to the family is always an exciting occasion. You’ve done the preparations for homecoming, and now it’s time for the fun part – potty training, obedience training and socialization.

Training your puppy instills good behavior and builds an unbreakable bond. The best time to start training a puppy is immediately. Starting early sets a foundation for a well-behaved and happy adult dog. Remember, training should be a positive experience for you and your young friend.

Review this guide to learn when to start training a puppy and reasons to enroll in a puppy training program for the best experience.

At What Age Can You Start Training a Puppy?

The best puppy training age is typically around 8 weeks old, or as soon as you bring them home. While some trainers and veterinarians used to advise against training classes until all vaccinations and boosters were up to date, they now recommend starting as early as 7 weeks, assuming your dog received at least one set of vaccines and dewormer at least seven days before the first class.

Puppy Training Timeline

A puppy training schedule can prepare you for success. This timeline explains developmental milestones and the commands a puppy should learn as it grows older.

8 to 10 Weeks

Your puppy can start with basic training and simple commands to build a foundation. Since they’re still young, keep the sessions short and engaging.

  • Socialization: Familiarize your puppy with people and other pets to prevent reactive behavior in public settings.
  • Different environments: Introduce them to new environments to help them adapt. You can make outings a positive, relaxing experience with treats and toys.
  • Daily schedule: Puppies need structure and stability. Establish a daily routine for feeding, play, training, potty breaks and naps.
  • Potty training: Start potty training immediately upon bringing your puppy home. Determine the potty break frequency based on their age – the younger they are, the more frequently they need to go.
  • Crate training: Crate training is valuable for housebreaking, independence and reducing anxiety.
  • Basic commands: Introduce basic obedience commands like “sit” and “come,” using food and positive reinforcement as awards.
  • Name recognition: Teach your puppy their name through reinforcement and eye contact exercises to establish a strong recall.
  • Redirect chewing: Redirect chewing behaviors with chew toys so they will differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate items.

10 to 12 Weeks

As your puppy reaches the 3-month milestone, continue with the basic training while adding more commands to your repertoire.

  • House and crate training: Continue crate training and taking your puppy out for potty breaks frequently, especially after naps, meals and playtime.
  • Obedience training: Maintain obedience training while teaching more commands like “place,” “down” and “heel,” using food and excitement as positive rewards. Practice impulse control by saying “sit” before feeding or calmly walking away, which will discourage your puppy from lunging every time it sees an opportunity.
  • Socialization: Continue introducing them to more people and vaccinated dogs.
  • Leash and harness: Familiarize your puppy with a leash and harness. Let them wear it around the house to help get them used to it.
  • Exposure: Take your puppy to different environments to introduce them to positive experiences and show them the world is a fun place.
  • Body handling exercises: Gently stroke different parts of your pet’s body, gradually increasing the duration as they become more relaxed. This training helps them become more comfortable with you and other humans touching, examining, bathing and grooming them.

3 to 6 Months

You’ll start to notice your puppy having more energy and interest in their environment at this stage. You may feel like everything grabs their attention – except your commands. Go through the basics as needed while adding the following training.

  • Polite play: Teach them when to stop playing and what’s off-limits, and discourage biting household items and hands or ankles.
  • House training: You may still have work to do, but you’ll also see progress with their potty training.
  • Being alone: Get them used to spending time alone for short periods. Make sure they’re comfortable and have a toy to keep them busy.
  • Obedience training: Practice recall commands like “sit,” “stay” and “come.”
  • Level up: Extend leash training and practice the different commands outside your house or in a public place, adding distance, duration and distractions.
  • Impulse control: Reinforce polite behavior by having them sit before activities like feeding and playtime.
  • Replace rewards: Gradually transition from food rewards to praise and affection for positive training responses.

6 Months to 1 Year

They grow up so fast! During your puppy’s adolescent phase, keep reinforcing what they’ve learned to prevent behavior regression, such as chewing or potty accidents.

  • Master basic commands: Ensure your friend knows the basics like “sit,” “stay” and “come” for lifelong good manners. They may even be ready for loose leash walking.
  • Polite behavior: Add “drop it” and “leave it” to your list of commands to ensure your puppy is a well-behaved family member.
  • Training progression: Introduce more advanced tricks – like “off,” “wait” and “stand” – and reinforce known commands by increasing the difficulty. For example, practice recall with more space and distractions.
  • Socializing: Continue to socialize your puppy in various environments and with dogs to emphasize positive interactions.
  • Maintenance: Keep up with body handling, preventive guarding exercises, obedience skills and crate training until they’re at least a year old.
  • Have fun: While raising and training puppies is hard work, having a dog brings unconditional love and joy to your family. Remember to enjoy the process!

Training Tips for Puppies

Training Tips for Puppies

Like human babies, puppies are highly observant. They learn as much from paying attention and watching your nonverbal cues as they do from the things you deliberately teach them. It may be cute when your puppy carries around your old slipper, but if you do not reinforce the lesson that your shoes are off-limits, they’ll all be up for grabs soon.

Here are some tips to remember in all phases of your puppy training.

  • Determine your desired behaviors: What’s your family’s lifestyle? Plan how you would like your adult dog to behave with different people, kids and other animals on walks and when the doorbell rings.
  • Keep it short and frequent: Choose training times when your puppy is awake and energetic. Sprinkle brief training sessions throughout the day instead of trying to get your dog to pay attention to a long lesson.
  • Avoid punishment: Use positive reinforcement for desired behavior instead of punishing mistakes. Redirect their attention or firmly say “no” when your puppy does something naughty.
  • Be consistent: Ask everyone in the family to use the same words and body language for commands so your puppy won’t get confused.
  • Practice patience: Puppies make mistakes, even as they grow older. Keep trying. Practice eventually makes perfect.
  • Use awards: Some puppies will do anything for a piece of kibble, while others prefer praise as an award after doing a successful paw shake. Find the incentive that works best for your dog.

Why You Should Enroll Your Puppy in Training

All puppy owners have moments where they feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of training a young dog, especially when they have time constraints or inconsistent results. Consider puppy training classes if you’re dealing with behavioral challenges or have specific needs.

Enrolling your puppy in a training program can offer several benefits.

  • Professional guidance: Trainers have expertise in canine behavior and training techniques. They can provide guidance tailored to your puppy’s needs and help you break bad habits.
  • Socialization: Puppy training programs often include socialization opportunities that help them learn how to act around humans and other dogs, reducing the likelihood of behavioral issues in the future.
  • Structured learning: Training programs offer a structured approach to teaching basic commands, manners and behaviors. The consistency helps puppies understand expectations and accelerates their learning process.
  • Early intervention: Trainers can address bad behavior early, preventing ingrained habits that will be challenging to correct later.
  • Bonding: Training strengthens the bond between you and your pet. It fosters communication, trust and a positive relationship built on mutual understanding.

Enroll Your Puppy in Superior Training Programs at Off Leash K9 Training Maryland

Enroll Your Pup in Our Superior Puppy Training Programs at Off Leash K9 Training Maryland

Off Leash K9 Training Maryland offers training programs for dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds. Puppies between 8 weeks and 5 months old are welcome to join our puppy training programs, whether you’re interested in group training or private one-on-one lessons. Our trainers are passionate about animals and can’t wait to meet your furry friends.

If you would like more information on how our training programs work, get in touch with us or call us at 443-743-3221.

Posted in Blog, Dog Training, Puppy Training.