Puppies are simply fabulous, adorable creatures, as everyone knows. They come into a house and put a smile on everyone’s face. Then they begin to chew shoes, pee on the floor, play-bite all the family members, and a myriad of other “cute” behaviors. What was a cuddly, little ball of fur has now become a hard-to-control monster according to some! What could the puppy possibly still need the owners start to think? They have toys. They have food. They should know to go to the bathroom outside. Shouldn’t they? Well, no, absolutely not.
Puppies, come into this world, like newborns- clueless in many ways. They don’t know where to go to the bathroom, not to bite, that a chair isn’t a chew toy, etc. It is the job of the owner and, hopefully, trainer, to show them what works in their best interest. Puppies can start (and should start) fun, force-free training as early as 8 weeks and be successful!
The sooner a puppy learns good habits and has those reinforced, the better. Trying to “undo” bad habits, fears, aggression, etc. can be terribly difficult when initially it could be so simple to instill the desired behaviors right off the bat. Puppies are learning from day one in a new house. They learn, as all animals do, what works to get them what they want. The same dog could behave absolutely differently in two different houses depending on the training that is given.
January 2014 is National Train Your Dog Month and the Association for Professional Dog Trainers states many benefits to training early. http://www.trainyourdogmonth.com/tips/benefits.aspx
Some simple and wonderful benefits to force-free training a puppy early include forming a strong bond between dog and owner, having a well-adjusted socialized dog, having a pup knowing what’s expected and not being confused, owning a puppy that learns how to “behave” in a controlled and relaxed way, among others. This is crucial especially for large breed dogs that are looked upon as cute when they jump on guests at 15 pounds, but will be yelled at and provide embarrassment to the owner when jumping on guests at 80 pounds. That 80 pound dog is doing what was allowed a few short months prior and has no way to know that it is not acceptable now. But, with training, that pup and, of course soon-to-be large dog, can learn what is acceptable behavior before they are at peak size and knocking people off their feet.
Sadly, many dogs are relinquished to shelters as they grow because they are too “out of control” or are labeled as “bad”. This is simply not the case, in most situations. The dog never was taught how to function in a way which humans find acceptable. That is by no means the dog’s fault. It is the job of the owner, the human, to teach (or hire someone to teach) the dog what is expected.
Owners should be strongly urged to start training a puppy the minute he/she walks into the home. The family will find life to be much calmer and easier and the dog will enjoy life and be able to develop and grow in a place that is setting them up for success and happiness!