When is the Right Time to Start Training My Dog?
by Robin MacFarlane
You just got a new puppy? Fantastic, then start molding behavior right now!Is my dog too young to start training?
Is my dog too old to start training?
Is the old adage of waiting until a puppy is 6 months or a year of age correct?
I have heard so many variations of the "when is the right age?" question.
For once in my life I think I have the one-size fits all answer. This answer applies every single time I hear the age question.
The time is right now.
Or another way I might put it: There is no time like the present.
The reality is, there is no magic age when the switch is flipped on or off so that your dog can or can't learn.
Your dog is learning all the time. Either learning something you want him to know or something you don't want him to know.
Plus, he is continuing to practice things you either want him to know or don't want him to know, so if you want to change any of the dog's behavior, why not start right now?
If your dog bolts the door, put a leash on him and start limiting his access to outside until he waits politely. Then he begins to learn that waiting = getting to go.
If your dog runs around like crazy, repeatedly jumps on you until you take him outside when you come home from work. You may not have realized it, but you are actually rewarding the frantic behavior by paying attention to it and opening the door for the dog. Instead, come home, ignore the dog, go about your business of checking the mail, changing your clothes or whatever. When the dog is settled down, THEN pay attention to him and go outside.
If you are tired of the dog begging while you eat, escort him back to his bed, each and every time he comes to the table during your next meal. It might mean your dinnertime takes an extra 10 minutes but it will certainly demonstrate to your dog that the routine is going to change starting today.
You just got a new puppy? Fantastic, then start molding behavior right now for all those things you are going to expect when the dog is full grown. Don't wait to teach basic manners like sitting, or keeping the paws on the floor rather when visitors arrive. The time is right now to begin teaching that puppy what expectations they will need to grow into. If you need a bit of help getting a clear picture of what you want for grown up behavior, download this free Vision Statement for Your Dog.
It is not that you have to enroll your puppy in a full-fledged obedience course at 9 weeks of age (although puppy socialization classes can be very helpful for positive learning opportunities and inspiration), but your puppy is very much like a young child, a sponge just waiting to absorb information. If you feed the kind of information you want your pup to grow up knowing, his education can already be well started before that 6 / 12 month mark.
If you're dog is already 3 or 6 or even 10 years old, it is not too late to begin training. Engaging the brain and increasing mental stimulation is good at any age. You only need to be aware that changing bad habits may take a bit longer than if you had nipped things in the bud earlier in life. Just because the dog is older, certainly doesn't mean they can't learn new things.
If you have some more serious issues that need work, then I encourage you to find a skilled trainer to help you. But that doesn't mean you need to wait until you start lessons to start making changes. Beginning right now to implement some structure and rules in your dog's daily routine is the first step toward better behavior.
Robin MacFarlane is a professional dog trainer and owner of Thatís My Dog in Dubuque, Iowa. Her best-selling dog training DVDs, JUST RIGHT and JUST RIGHT 2 have helped thousands of dog owners teach their dogs basic obedience and fix problem behaviors through a system of training that you can easily work into your daily routine.
FREE or only a penny with the following collars:
Delta XC, Delta SPORT XC
Dogtra IQ Plus
and several more...
Here's Why You Should Train Your DogDoes Your Dog Know her Place?Teaching a Recall? Start Slow and Make the Dog SuccessfulTeaching the Down CommandHouse Manners"Pay Me!"How to Strengthen Your Dog's Understanding of "Stay"How Long Does My Dog have to Wear the E-Collar?Consistency Without an E-collarSkills Every Puppy Should LearnDogs and Doorbells -- Oh My!Stop Your Dog from Bolting to the Door!Use Food Lures to Shape Your Puppies Introduction to Sit, Stand and DownPuppy Training 101: Play Biting ProblemTeaching Your Puppy to "Kennel Up"Dog Tricks: How to Teach Your Dog to Walk BackwardsWant a Standing Ovation? Teach Your Dog to "Take A Bow!"Want Your Dog to Come to You? Try Moving Away from Him."Catch me if you can!"Tired of Fido Stealing Your Snacks?E-Collar, Leash, Treats, Toy, and the Dog. How to Manage it All!Dog Tricks: Teaching Your Dog to DanceBefore You Expect a Dog to Stay on a Place, Teach Him to get on Willingly.Adding E-Collar Prompting to your Place CommandImpulse Control Games are a Time Well Spent Playing with your Dog!Juggling All Your Training Equipment?
Watch Ecollar Training VideosProper Fit of E-CollarIs Your Dog Collar Wise?"How long does my dog have to wear the collar?"Pressure NecrosisUsing Treats in TrainingCan I Use an E-Collar on My Small Dog?I Need a Shock Collar!Dog Training: Keeping it Real: Training Your Dog Should be EasyWhy Would I Want to Use an E-Collar on My Dog?A Tired Dog is a Good DogThree Things You Must Know to Have a Reliably Trained DogAre Remote Collars Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, or Motivators?The Best Way to Rescue a DogIt is More than Just Pushing a Button: Part OneWhat About the Leash?Tennis Ball, Tug or Cookie? What do Rewards Have to do with Good Training?The More Important Tool: Part 4 of "It Is More Than Just Pushing a Button."Do You Need Impeccable Timing in Order to Use a Remote Collar?What Does Your Dog's Future Look Like?6 Essential Things to Teach to Have a Good DogThe Top 3 Reasons Your Remote Collar Doesn't Seem to be WorkingHow Long Does It Take to Train My Dog?Put a Plan Into Motion for Dealing With Your Dog's Behavior Problems!Why are You Grateful for Your Dog?Are You Struggling to Get Your Dog to Stay? Try This.There are Only 3 Levels on a Remote Training Collar?The One Thing You Must Know if You Want to Train with an E-CollarHow to Help Your Dog Understand What You WantPhotos: One Great Reason to Teach a Place Command to Your DogNew Puppy TipsSit? or Sit! -- The Case for Intonation When Speaking to Your DogNumber of CommandsSo Your Dog Knows Sit. Now What?20 Reasons to Teach a Place CommandE-Collar Use: Training vs. EnforcingKnow How to Train a Dog, Know How to Use a Remote Collar?5 Ways to Enhance Feeding Time"But my dog doesn't like it."Outwit Your Dogs if You Want Better BehaviorWeaning Off E-Stim: Tap, Tell or HelpProofing: How to Help Your Dog Really "Get It."Should Your Dog Sleep on the Bed With You?Human Body LanguageGood Health: The Missing Link for a Happy and Well-Adjusted Dog?Are You the Center of Your Dog's World?E-Collar Training: Be Sure to Do This Before You Go Off LeashWhat Behavior are You Rewarding the Most?The Importance of Routine Nail Trims for Your DogWhen is the Right Time to Start Training My Dog?Is it Important that a Dog Learn to Heel?3 Things to do Right Now to Avoid Separation Issues with Your DogTraining Your Dog to Stop BarkingHow to Use a No Bark Collar