Puppy Training - The Cost of Waiting - McCann Professional Dog Trainers

Puppy Training - The Cost of Waiting

My Puppy is 7 weeks old

There are no shortage of differing opinions among dog trainers. Regardless of whether we are pro or anti food, or for or against the use of correction, one thing we all agree on is that preventing problems is much easier than fixing them.

That means early puppy training and training the right behaviours so the wrong ones aren’t ever part of the equation.

My Puppy is 10 weeks old

Did you know that a puppy’s brain is fully developed by 7 weeks of age? That means, they are ready to learn by the time they come home. Most puppy classes begin around 10 weeks of age, once a puppy has had a chance to get to know their new family and the first round of vaccinations have become effective.

Puppy classes are fabulous for early socialization with dogs and people. Puppies learn to read body language that can help them throughout their lives. Learning how to start and stop interaction appropriately and learning how to communicate what they are feeling are crucial skills for young dogs. Waiting until post critical socialization period to start training could mean that your puppy never learns these valuable skills. In addition to socialization in a safe environment for puppies, a good puppy class will teach things like:

  • handling and basic grooming acceptance
  • preventing possession over food and toys
  • how to deal with chewing issues
  • puppy nipping and bite inhibition
  • crate training
  • house training
  • appropriate rules of play
  • basic obedience skills

My puppy is now 16 weeks old

We often find that puppies can lull their new owners into a false sense of security. Most are cooperative and tend to only see their immediate world until they get to be around 16 weeks of age. Young puppies typically aren’t too interested in the big world, rather they instinctually stick close to home and close to safety. It’s only once they’ve grown up a bit that they realize there’s more to life and a big world out there! Training early means that you can take advantage of the cooperative time to build some skills with a young dog.

Not training early means you lose out on the opportunity to take advantage of a puppy’s instinctual ability to classically condition. Puppies who have not been taught to respond to their name or a recall command will very quickly stop listening once they are about 4 months of age. Trust us when we say, no puppy is born understanding human language and commands, even when they seem to. Puppies must be taught to respond through clear training and repetition.

There are also very important bite inhibition lessons to be learned. Some puppies learn these lessons from their littermates, while others need clear guidance from their new family members. This life lesson is crucial and will help increase a dog’s bite threshold as they age into adulthood.

If you have the opportunity, nothing beats early training with a young puppy. A few weeks of work in the early stages will engrain clear life lessons for the next 10 – 15 years. It’s definitely worth the effort to train young!

We will continue to explore the benefits of early training on our blog over the next few weeks! Check back soon!

Hi! I'm Shannon Viljasoo and I joined the McCann team in 1999 while training Quincey, my wonderful and spirited Rottweiler, to have good listening skills. I'm the Director of Online Training and Content for McCann Professional Dog Trainers and I enjoy writing about dogs and dog training for the McCann blog. I currently share my life with 2 Tollers (Reggie & Ned) and I love helping people develop the best possible relationship with their 4-legged family members.

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