Today’s topic is when should I start training my dog? I get this question fairly often. I think some of my employees are getting it pretty often because, they’re talking to a lot of you. So what’s my response to this? Let me give you the short version first, and then I’d like to go into a little bit of detail into that answer.
8 weeks old
So there are actually two times that I would consider starting training. The first one is to start puppies at about eight weeks of age. I don’t want to go any earlier than that, but I think between 8-12 weeks should be some training going on. Yes, this includes potty training, socialization, and obviously some obedience training. Maybe introduction to one of the special things that your dog might be doing. Like scent detection, playing tug of war or maybe fetching a ball. Those kinds of things. I’m looking to do all of that during the early phases.
But the other answer, my other response to this question, is this. Today is a good day to start training your dog. If your puppy is less than eight weeks of age you don’t have to start training today. Your dog should still be with its mom and its littermates, and the breeder. But if your puppy is older than that, then today is a good day to start training.
A lot of people say they want to let their dog grow up. And yes, I agree you should let your dog grow up. But there are things that you can do to begin to influence your dog substantially if you start the training process early.
So what are some of the benefits of actually starting your dog early in training? Well, the first one that kind of jumps out to me is this one. 90% of your dog’s brain grows from conception to six months. I’m no neuroscientist, but I know that you can make some phenomenal connections in the brain with some early training. There are even things that the breeder can do that will influence how well the dog will do as an adult. So you get that 90% of the dog’s brain grows in the first six months, and I think that the other 10% is probably going to happen over the next 18 months.
So by the time the dog is two, it’s probably going to have pretty close to 100% of its brain.
The other reason to start training has to do with us. And this is something that you all have heard me say quite a bit of when it comes to dog training. Who needs the training? Is it the dog, or is it us? Indeed we both do. But I feel that there’s a lot more to educate people on than there is educating dogs.
Learn How To Train
So you can start training today. That way you can start learning how to train. Now, you could go off and do this on your own. And many people have. Me included. It is nice at some point in time to get the hand of a professional in there, even if you do know what you’re doing. Because they might have some perspectives and some things that maybe you’re missing.
So starting the training process today for your dog also starts the training process for you to get better and to build the thing that I think is the most important gift that you could ever give your dog. And that is a personal, daily dog training habit. I feel that we should spend time with our dogs daily, but not just having them meet our needs, but spending time getting their minds to grow and to make them the best version of themselves that we could help them be.
Your dog doesn’t have any wishes or dreams for the future. It has wishes and dreams for what it wants to happen right now. And maybe in the next 10-15 minutes. Particularly this week, as they all see us going through time change. They’re probably noticing that they normally get fed at 5:00 and you’re saying it’s 4:00 but it still feels like 5:00.
Your dog doesn’t know about the silly human time change. But they need that training daily to really realize everything that they could be and that they might be. And I have to tell you, I’ve seen this with my dogs, how they go from puppyhood to an adult dog. And it’s just one of the most beautiful things. But it’s wonderful because, well, to some extent I created that by actually practicing with my dog daily.
So today is a good day to start. If you have a dog, start training, start learning how to use food, and how to use a leash. And if you need some help, reach out to me anytime.