Is 10 Weeks Too Soon to Train a Puppy?by Connie Jankowski
Puppies can start training at 8 weeks of age.
Kindergarten puppy training is a popular course throughout the world. These classes are intended for puppies between the ages of 8 weeks and 6 months. Puppies are ready to learn and an early start at training and socialization is the best route to establishing the foundation for a great relationship with your dog.
Finding a Class
Puppy training classes are valuable to both dog and owner, if the instructor understands the unique qualities and needs of puppies. A puppy training class is not just an obedience class with young students. The class should introduce the puppy to basic commands, but emphasis should be on developing a confident, responsive dog. Socialization is a critical component of a puppy class. The instructor should include discussions to address canine companionship issues. "Don't miss out on the critical socialization period for puppies. Making sure you and your pup have good communication together, socialization to people and dogs, an introduction to obstacles, noises and environments will help build the proper foundation for a well behaved adult dog," recommends Best Friends Dog Training of New York on its website.
Head Start to Happiness
The website for Beyond Obedience outlines the components of a good puppy class, "Preventing behavior problems through socialization, good management and the use of gentle, fun and effective training methods to guide the puppy through its learning process is a major focus of [the puppy class]." The class should explain principles for house training, puppy play behaviors, destructive chewing, problem digging and chewing and canine pack order. Attention to these topics will prevent problems when the dog matures.
Young puppies are sensitive and sponges for learning. You can introduce basic commands to your puppy, as long as you stick to positive training methods. The use of food reinforcement and attention is powerful, and harsh corrections are out of place. Best Friends recommends getting "your pup started on basic dog training skills such as: come, polite greetings without jumping, no-pull walking, sit, down and appropriate play." Classes can vary in how much is covered, but all classes should remain positive.
How to Find a Good Class
Don't miss the opportunity to take part in a puppy training class, but make sure that the class is appropriate for puppies. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation, or call your local animal shelter for a referral. Of course, a friend's good experience is the best testimony to a trainer's ability to teach dogs and their owners. Once you have the names of a few trainers, call and ask about their training program. A good trainer will explain how puppies learn and how their class meets the needs of young puppies. Once you find a class, commit to the sessions and the out-of-class exercises.
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