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What Age Should Dog Training Begin?

Ask any dog lover, and they’ll tell you with some certainty: Their dog is better trained than others’ dogs.

Unfortunately, this might be far from the truth. While it’s natural for dog owners to think the best and highest of their four-legged companions, being well-trained is more than just knowing basic commands or having a polite personality. 

Training your puppy is a core skill that takes months for both owners and pets to perfect. The amount of work you put in will reflect on how much your dog learns too. 

This is why many pet owners opt for expert training. In this article, you’ll learn when to start dog training—and why you should train at all. 

The Benefits of Training a Puppy

You know you would do anything for your puppy. And given that most Americans spend nearly twice as much today on pet care services than they did a decade ago, that’s doubly true.

Training establishments are each bringing in a whopping $373 thousand, so it’s safe to say that training is widely accepted as part of a dog’s health and quality of life.

Additionally, training offers numerous other benefits.

Puppy Training Benefit #1: You Can Better Communicate With Your Puppy

One of your main goals as a dog owner is to establish a connection and bond with your puppy. After all, there’s a reason why dogs are considered man’s best friend. 

But all of this starts with the right bond. The more time you spend with your dog, the more you’ll learn about each other: You’ll get to know their personality, and they’ll get to know you as a fair and trusted leader. 

This increases the potential for a more trusting relationship between the two of you, which leads to a lifetime of companionship.

Training your puppy can create more powerful and better bonds because it helps you understand their needs more intuitively—and vice versa. Obedient dogs pay more attention to their owners, which reduces relationship stress.

Training your puppy with basic commands also opens a world of new opportunities so that you can take him anywhere you go. A strong relationship and training base allows your dog to be more secure when interacting with you and their surroundings. 

This way, you’ll have more chances for adventure and memories together—which is undoubtedly one of the best things about having a dog.

Puppy Training Benefit #2: You Have More Control and Safety Over Your Puppy

A trained dog is an obedient dog, and an obedient dog will always respond to commands and react accordingly. So if your dog is ever exposed to potentially dangerous scenarios, you can best protect them with key commands, like “stay” or “come.” 

For example, if your dog gets out of the backyard and makes his way to the street, you can successfully call him back away from the traffic. 

Obedience training teaches your dog to listen to you in these situations. In fact, well-trained and socialized puppies who attend training classes have improved obedience, which means that they’ll be easier to train and better listen to commands.

Puppy Training Benefit #3: Your Puppy Will Be More Sociable

Signing your puppy up for training and puppy socialization classes covers obedience. However, group lessons also allow your puppy to learn and play alongside other puppies during each class. 

And while it’s fun to be able to set up puppy-play dates with friends and other local dog owners, ensuring your puppy is adequately socialized is crucial for his health and general well-being.

Dogs that are appropriately socialized as puppies are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems like aggression and fearfulness. This leads to more positive social behaviors with humans and other dogs. 

When to Start Puppy Training

Puppies can begin training as early as seven to eight weeks old, which is also around the same time they’re ready to move to their new homes and families. It’s around this age that a puppy can learn basic training cues, such as: 

  • Crate training
  • Their name
  • Potty training
  • “Sit, stay, leave it, come” commands
  • The start of basic obedience training

Through positive reinforcement, short training sessions, consistency, and patience, your puppy can grasp just about anything at this young age—and even more as they get older. And at a certain age, your puppy can begin transitioning from basic to advanced training skills

Different Ways To Train Your Puppy

When you decide to train your puppy, you’re faced with many options. The most important of these considerations will be about location and method. 

Will you enroll your fur friend in group training classes or ask a private trainer to come to visit your home? Or maybe you’re considering doing your research and taking training into your own hands. In that case, is this a task you can reasonably commit to?

Here are the pros and cons of all your choices regarding training your puppy (plus one option that can save you a lot of time, patience, and money in the long run!). 

Option #1: Start Training Your Puppy At Home

Training your dog at home consists of a set schedule, lots of patience, and plenty of consistency with positive reinforcement. At home, you can save a lot of money and take matters into your own hands. 

Pros

There is a ton of flexibility that comes with training at home. First off, you can skip driving to and from the trainer’s location and, instead, dedicate that extra time to your pooch. Additionally, you can keep training sessions short, which is essential for young puppies.

Lastly, home training builds a healthy relationship between you and your puppy faster. The hours you spend each week having unique, one-on-one time will only solidify the relationship and help build that critical foundation of trust. 

Cons

The most challenging part about opting to train your puppy by yourself is doing enough research and remaining diligent about your schedule. It’s hard to gauge whether or not you’ll be up for the commitment or have time to gather the expertise until you’re actually in the process.

It’s not unheard of for professional dog trainers to consult with other trainers when it comes to their dogs. Sometimes, it’s hard to separate yourself from being a puppy parent to a strict alpha while training. This can lead to frustration, confusion, and a lack of results. 

Option #2: One-on-One Training Sessions With a Trainer

Whether the trainer comes to your home or you go to theirs, using a professional dog trainer is one of the easiest ways to ensure your puppy will master specific skills.

Pros

The trainer will have up-to-date knowledge, certified skills that will guarantee your dog’s education, and flexibility where you can train at your home or theirs. 

Trainers can also help you work through potential problems like separation anxiety, fear, and aggression. Every puppy has a different personality that may require different types of attention and work. An experienced trainer will help you and your puppy get on the right track to a happy life together.  

Cons

The biggest con to working with a professional trainer is the cost. Hiring an expert will be more expensive than doing it yourself. You’ll also have to align your schedule with your trainer’s availability to ensure your pup gets ample opportunity to practice what they’re learning. 

Option #3: Puppy Training Classes with the Breeder

If you adopt your puppy from a reputable and trusted breeder, then you’re in for a lifetime of guaranteed companionship. 

Breeders work hard to keep the puppies’ bloodline healthy and robust so that there are minimal—if any—health problems as it ages into adulthood and eventually seniorhood. 

Pros

When you adopt from a breeder, like Snowy Pines White Labs, it’s their responsibility to ensure that the puppies have undergone proper early stimulation practice, like socialization and conditioning for adoption. 

Many breeders train in group classes which provides adequate socialization between puppies of the same age. Socialization is one of the most important aspects of any dog training program. It’s vital to the well-being and development of your puppy, guaranteeing a healthy attitude well into adulthood.

You’ll be able to bring your new family home when he is between eight to 12 weeks old. But before you take your new puppy home, you have the option to sign him up for basic or more extensive training classes. Doing so will help them be completely prepared to adapt to your family’s lifestyle upon arrival.

Cons

One of the main concerns with group training may be whether or not your dog will get along with the other dogs in the class. Sometimes, it’s true that older dogs in group training sessions can create a challenging environment to learn in. In response, they may feel aggression or fear at being surrounded by large groups of unfamiliar animals.

Luckily, this isn’t the case with puppies around eight weeks old, as they train with their breeders. These youngsters play and learn alongside their siblings and parents whom they’re comfortable and familiar with.

Which Training Option Is Best? 

To recap: 

  • Training your puppy alone: This technique can create a solid foundation, but the amount of research and expertise required can tire anybody out. 
  • Taking your puppy to a trainer: An excellent choice for those who want to leave the necessary skills in an expert’s hands can get costly, especially if you choose a highly skilled trainer. 
  • Working with expert trainers before adoption: This guarantees trained experts who have known your puppy since its birth, guaranteeing a solid relationship and set of skills for when he comes home.

While the puppy training process is different for every owner, the best choice for training your puppy is to leave the process in the capable hands of the experts you already trust. When you work with certified breeders like Snowy Pines, you can take advantage of their professional training classes at basic and advanced levels.

Conclusion

You can begin training your puppy at around eight weeks old because that’s the age where they can start understanding basic skills like potty and crate training, their name, and other essential phrases like “sit,” “come,” and “stay.”

Training your puppy does more than just help them through the “toddler years.” It’s also the best method to guarantee your puppy’s safety, socialization skills, and creating a better bond in your relationship. 

You can reap all these benefits by having your puppy trained with large group classes by experienced trainers, like the ones at Snowy Pines. Breeders who offer training classes can teach your puppy before you even take them home—starting as early as seven weeks old.

If you’re interested in more basic puppy training tips, then be sure to check out Snowy Pines’ comprehensive and informative guides for everything you need to know about taking home your new family member.

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About the Author

tom-massey

Tom Massey

Tom Massey has owned and operated Snowy Pines Labradors for over a decade. They have become the leaders in English Labradors in the US. He and his team serve customers all over the US and Europe. They house their "dog family" in a state of the art facility on a large farm in the Ozark Mountains. With an obsession for genetics and temperament they raise and train dogs known across the globe for health and personality. Tom serves the pet industry in many forms campaigning for ethical breeding, training, and pet ownership.

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