Below is tons of information about puppy training — also please read below about proper socialization because MOST PEOPLE DO IT WRONG!
What is the best age to start formal obedience training?
The best age to start depends on your dog! Some dogs are fine starting obedience training classes at 3-4 months old and they need to! Some dogs would be way better waiting until 5-6 months old or even a little bit older. Our trainers prefer dogs that are between 4-6 months old before we start doing formal training.
Why the difference?? Dogs are like people in that there can be a room full of 5 year old children but some are more mature emotionally or mentally, some have more bladder control than others, some are still having some accidents in their pants, some are very conversational, some are very shy, etc. But they are all 5 year old!!! Even though they are all 5 they all were raised a little different, they all have different DNA, they all have different life experiences, all have been in different social environments, and the list goes on and on.
We see this same thing with puppies. Some puppies at 3 months old are super confident and ready to begin obedience training!! On the other hand, some puppies at 4 months old are very scared and shy and do not have much confidence. With these puppies a 45 minute class may stress them out more than actually help them. But give that same 4 month old puppy another 2-3 months to mature and you may see a completely different level of confidence and maturity in the dog.
If you are not sure if your puppy is ready to start training or not, feel free to call our office at 918-991-8634 and set up a consultation where we can meet you and your puppy and let you know what we think.
What do we do with our personal dogs?
We work on 3 main things with a puppy from 8 week sold to 4 months old:
- Environmental soundness
- Socialization with dogs and people
- Potty Training
We want our dogs to develop confidence from knowing that the world is a good and fun place. A confident dog is an easy dog to train! In addition to confidence we want our dog to learn where to potty because nobody likes messes in the house!
Environmental soundness – What is that??
We want the dog to be able to go into any environment and be comfortable and confident. At first puppies may be scared of new things such as loud noises, new environments, car rides, slick floors, different surfaces, etc. One of the first things we like to focus on is taking new puppies EVERYWHERE with us! This gets them used to tons of new environments. Your goal should be to be able to enjoy your dog and be able to take him or her everywhere dogs are allowed!
Start by packing up your pup and taking him or her to a new spot every day or two! Take them (on a leash) to the park, the lake, around the block, other people’s houses, and finally pet stores. A word of caution, we would recommend the dog has his second or third round of shots before taking him into pet stores just because of how many people take their dogs there and you puppy’s little immune system is still gaining strength!
Take your dog everywhere! Have them walk all over different stuff, have them smell different smells and hear different noises so that they become confident in all types of different environments. Don’t be forceful with your dog to accept environments that make them uncomfortable but just keep slowly taking them back again and again and desensitize your dog until the discomfort goes away.
Example – If your dog is scared of a sprinkler don’t drag your scared puppy to the sprinkler and make him get sprayed in the face! Shame on you! Have the puppy on the leash and sit down with the puppy 10 feet away and don’t let him run away. Slowly move 2 feet closer at a time giving love, and praise and copious treats and make sure your puppy knows that you are totally comfortable. If the puppy goes crazy at 4 feet away back off a little to 5 feet and just chill with your pup for a few minutes.
Then the next day go back and work it again, slowly but surely!
Sometimes this is hard and you can’t figure out how to teach your pup to overcome some things. That’s where obedience training comes in, specifically the “come” or “place” command.
To the side is a 5 month old puppy being taught to handle distractions with the “Place” command.
Socialization – How to properly socialize your dog
Most people do socialization VERY WRONG. Most people hear they need to socialize their dog so they take their dog to a dog park and throw them in there or to take the new pup to their parent’s house and let their puppy meet their parent’s 8 year old grumpy German Shepherd that doesn’t like other dogs…. This is a great way for your precious puppy to have a bad experience and learn to be scared of other dogs!
Many young puppies have only played with their litter mates or with momma dog. If you take that new puppy and throw it into a dog park with adult dogs they can be terrified, they can get played with too rough or attacked or hurt and generally don’t have a positive experience. Dog parks can be great fun, but for a young puppy they are normally too much and can be a stressful experience.
What we recommend is only introducing your new puppy to other puppies that are 6 months old or younger. These dogs will probably react like them as they will be on somewhat of the same maturity level. Or introduce them to adult dogs that are calm or known to be very dog friendly.
Not all dogs love other dogs. You don’t want to introduce your new puppy to a dog that proceeds to correct it too roughly or bite it or chase it and scare it. This is BAD socialization. This is a bad experience for your pup!!
To create a good strong confident dog you want your pup to only have great experiences!
Potty Training – How do I do that?
Well we go into potty training in more detail on the potty training page.
But potty training is all about patience and routine. Young puppies have small bladders and some can go potty every 20-30 minutes! Take them out after food, after playtimes, after naps, after drinking water, and just keep taking them out!!
Puppy months are an important time for setting a foundation of where to potty! Puppies raised by very good (but rare) breeders as young as 5-6 weeks old can be seen to start learning where to potty if given an opportunity to go in another place and a pattern is set for them. Many breeders use puppy pads in beginning stages so puppies have an option of another place to go and then move them to the grass. All of this before 8 weeks old!
For more info on potty training visit our potty training page.
Is taking a puppy class a good idea? Do you offer a puppy class?
Puppy class can definitely be a good thing. All we are saying is that time you would spend at class may be better spent on socializing your pup and taking them to new environments.
Some trainers, because their training methods are not very good, need to start dogs in training as soon as possible. Here at Tip Top K9 we can get most dogs to come, sit, down, stay, heel etc and fix the jumping all in just a few weeks without a problem. Teaching obedience to a young confident dog is easy and fast so we don’t have to start training them super early!
Teaching obedience to a dog that’s still a super puppy and doesn’t have any more than a 5-10 minute attention span can take a lot of work for a small pay off! Sure it can be done but think about it, it is easier and you will have better results if you teach a 6-7 year old child math than it is a 3-4 year old child. Sure you may be able to do it at 3-4 years old but it is a lot harder just because of brain development and maturity. At 3-4 years old your human child doesn’t need formal school, he has other needs. This is the same with your dog!
If your dog is over 4 months old your first lesson is only $1.00!! and then based on the over 2500 dogs we have worked with we can normally give you a very accurate idea of what your dog is capable of handling or not handling! Give us a call today! 918-991-8634