Puppy Training: What age to start training?
With a new dog, puppy training becomes a priority quickly! Many owners are excited to bring their puppies home, they have bought a leash, crate, bowls and a squeaky toy but they aren’t sure when they can begin to really train their new pet. In fact, puppies can be trained from a very early age as long as we don’t expect too much of them right away. The mother dog has been educating her litter for several weeks, preparing them to survive on their own. By seven weeks the puppy has reached a stage of development that allows him to leave the mother and ensures the strongest human ties and best socialization possible. Older puppies may be less inclined to attach to humans right away, but eventually with love and affection they will fully accept their owners. No matter what age you bring your puppy home, the important thing to remember is that they are ready to learn, they just need practice!
You can begin training your new puppy the moment that you bring them into your home. Dog training at this early stage will focus on the essentials; house training, chewing, digging, jumping, and learning to wear a collar and walk on a leash. The most important thing to remember about training your puppy is that you are setting boundaries and house rules that will be in place for a lifetime. The groundwork you set today will allow you to have a wonderful relationship with your dog every day.
The first day that your new puppy spends in your home is when you should begin training them. Believe it or not, house training is one of the easiest things to teach a dog because they are clean by nature and do not want to soil their ‘den’. The biggest issues with house training is supervising close enough and giving the pup the chance to go outside when he has to relieve him/herself.
Young puppies are not ready to have full access to your whole house, it will overwhelm and either intimidate or overexcite them. One of the biggest reasons that house training fails is that people allow their puppy more freedom than he can handle and don’t supervise his initial experiences going potty outside. It is important for owners to dedicate time to take the new puppy out, watch them go and bring them back in so that the puppy begins to understand how you want them to handle the natural urges. This is a general outline of what you would need to do to maximize your house training, remember that you should always consult a professional dog trainer to guide you through the process.
Method One: Crate Training
Using a crate to replicate the safe, secure “den” environment can aid your house training efforts. The puppy’s natural desire to be clean and not soil the area in which he sleeps will generally keep him from relieving himself in the crate, as long as he is given the opportunity to get out of his crate when necessary.
While using a leash, let out from the dog crate, take him out to the spot you will want him to ‘go’ or ‘eliminate’. If he goes, praise him. If not, put him back into his crate and try again in about 15 minutes or so. Continue with this cycle until you and your dog have a routine going. If an outing is successful, then it earns the pup freedom for twenty minutes or so and you can gradually extended the time as he grows older and more reliable. Remember a seven-week-old puppy does not have a great deal of bladder control. You cannot expect the puppy to go more than a few hours without having to eliminate, and don’t expect him to wait once he is out of his crate to eliminate, instead take him straight outside to where you want him to go.
Beginning the first time you take your puppy out, give the puppy a word to associate his behavior action that you desire. In the beginning, the puppy won’t understand the word, but if you say to your puppy, “hurry up”, or “go potty” and continue to repeat the phrase until he goes, praising him/her when it happens, your puppy will learn to associate these words with the action. Later, when traveling or out in public it can be a cue word to
get your dog to relieve himself in quick time, without having to wait in the scorching sun, or freezing rain.
Method Two: Crate Training with Doggy Door
An alternative – and some say easier – system for house training is using a crate with a dog door and an enclosed dog run on the other side of the dog door. First, you position the dog crate against the dog door. Because of how small he is, the dog door may need to be taped or otherwise rigged up so the puppy can comfortably go through the dog door. With the crate set up to the dog door system, your puppy learns quickly to let himself out of his containment area to relieve himself. It also helps him develop some independence from always having his human to watch over him. One important thing to consider with this system is that when you first let your puppy out of his crate you should still take your puppy immediately to the outside area. Even though your crate has access to the outside, puppy may have been resting and not recently “emptied out.” It won’t take much movement for the puppies need to “go” to be present and we don’t want mistakes that could easily have been prevented.
When the pup isn’t in his crate, you have to use constant supervision to keep him from making mistakes. The easiest way to do this is to literally tie or tether the pup to your waist with a leash or line, or tether him to a piece of furniture where he has no more than three feet of freedom in any direction. Remember that a pup tethered to furniture should be watched carefully or he may chew it. Crating, supervising and tethering are examples of a management system used to support the dog until he is trained.
Because dogs are inherently pack animals, they prefer to be with us, rather than be alone. Most cases of adult “seperation anxiety” would never develop if the dog, as a puppy, had been trained in the crate/dog door/dog run management system just described because early on the puppy would learn to deal with being alone, handling is own needs, without access to chew or destroy things.
Responding To His/Her Name:
You will also want to begin training your puppy to respond to his name being called. You can begin by calling the puppy’s name as you feed him his breakfast, lunch and dinner so that the puppy starts to associate his or her name with his meal. Within a few days you can change the order of events- call his name, wait for him to look at you, and then give him a treat. Once he’s doing this reliably, you can “fade” the treats, using your voice “good puppy” and your hands to pet and praise him letting him know that you are pleased with his learning. Treats can still be used on an unpredictable schedule, so the puppy is responding to your voice and praise more than looking for his payment of the food or treats. Having your dog recognize his name and respond by looking at you will prepare him for dog obedience, puppy training classes and more!
Remote Collar Training:
People wonder if they can use a remote electronic collar in training the puppy? The answer is, yes. Why? Because the Sit Means Sit remote collar training system, developed by Fred Hassen, is a proven, effective and gentle training method. Dog training, obedience, puppy, and even agility training are well suited to the remote collar training method. Sit Means Sit uses the better quality remote collars on the market, these are fully adjustable for different dogs. The remote collar is used as a cue system similar to a tap on the shoulder that says “yoo-hoo” to someone in an effort to let them know you are talking to them. In other words, it is never used with a puppy as punishment but instead as a means to successfully gain the puppy’s attention. In any case you should seek a professional’s aid in this type of training to avoid any elements of confusion for your pup.
Is there a specific age at which we can begin remote collar training? No. Common sense will tell you when he’s physically coordinated enough to go for walks, which is a good indicator that he is ready for further training. Another indicator may be when you busy and active enough that you feel he is ready for more responsibility. He’s your pup and that’s a personal choice akin to whether your child is ready for kindergarten. Some children are ready at just under five. Some need another year. Pups, like kids, mature at individual rates. He’s your puppy, enjoy him but remember he needs boundaries, supervision, attention, exercise good positive mental outlets, good food and lots of rest to grow up well!
About the authors:
Toni Drugmand runs the Sit Means Sit Phoenix Dog Training location.
Fred Hassen is the CEO and Founder of Sit Means Sit Dog Training