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Puppy Training - How Soon Can I Start To Train My Puppy?
Many puppy owners want to know when is the best time to start training their new puppy. For me, the answer is simple, and that is you can start training your puppy about the same time you bring him across your threshold. Now certainly, I am not advocating that you start puppy classes with an 8 week old puppy, not beyond puppy preschool anyway, but be aware that the moment you get your puppy, you are starting to teach him. Within the first days and weeks, he learns what it means to become part of your family unit, and he sets about finding out what he can and cannot get away with. If you are indulgent in these early weeks and wait until he is 4, 5, or even 6 months old to teach him anything, you are no doubt going to have a rather large problem on your hands.
Depending on the breed, puppies as young as 8 weeks old can learn to sit on command. Attention span and willingness to work will vary from puppy to puppy, so do try to work with your own puppy's individual abilities and preferences.
There are certain things you can begin to work on immediately when you get your puppy. Feeding time is a great time to establish his role in the house. Make him wait before feeding him, and make sure that you 'give' him the food. By this I mean make sure that the puppy knows exactly where his food is coming from, don't let it be something he wanders up and finds on his own. Some people prefer to 'free feed', and simply leave food down all day for the dog, but this is rather a wasted opportunity for training. It may also lead to later dominance issues in some dogs.
Establishing boundaries is also important with a young puppy. If you are not intending to let him on the couch or on the bed later in life, then don't let him up now. This is a good rule of thumb for many behaviors, don't let your puppy do anything now that you won't be tolerating or wanting him to do as an adult. This includes biting people, chewing on the furniture, barking into the night, and a myriad of other behaviors that your little darling will no doubt come up with.
Basic commands can be fun and easy to teach with the aid of treats, like the aforementioned sit. Another command you will want him to learn early on is "come". It is always invaluable to teach your dog to come to you when you call, so when he does, plenty of treats and praise are in order! You can also try teach him to lie down on command, and perhaps to stay.
Much of what your puppy will learn depends on your dedication to training, and the temperament of your dog. Keep the sessions short and fun, that way the puppy will come to associate commands with good things, and be infinitely more likely to obey them later on in life. Having "sit" and "come" down pat when you start obedience classes will certainly be a help too!