Everyone thinks about training their puppy when they first get them home, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Here’s why it’s important to make sure your puppy is trained.
The short answer here is: Yes.
Puppy training is incredibly important for your new family member!
I’m a professional trainer with a focus on puppies, right? So I’m going to tell you that. Every trainer will. But, I’m not just going to tell you it’s important, I’m going to tell you why it’s important.
Because the why is critical here! I can tell you anything a hundred times, but unless you can see the value in it, it’s not going to be something you’re overly focused on, or you’re willing to invest in.
I want to walk you through why you cannot afford to not train your puppy.
1 – Statistics, Keep The Odds In Your Favour
Let’s lead with the shocker.
98% of dogs surrendered to the ASPCA have no training.
Ready for the second hit?
48% of those dogs are between the ages of 5 months and 3 years.
These dogs were never trained as puppies and quickly became unruly and unmanageable. Their families quickly decide that they cannot handle these dogs and surrender them.
This then raises the question: Why is their dog or puppy unmanageable?
Well, it could be poor breeding, but, that doesn’t lean on the first statistic does it?
To me there’s only one logical conclusion as to why these dogs have been surrendered, because their owners didn’t invest the time that the puppy needed, and can no longer cope with the dog they didn’t train puppy to understand how to live together – because puppy’s don’t come with that knowledge as standard, you know!
It has to be taught.
They’ve never been trained. They’ve never had the involvement of someone who knows dogs, who knows puppies and can guide them through the process. And if it’s something this simple that keeps a puppy out of a shelter? Isn’t that worth it?
2 – Prevention is better than cure.
This one is something I’m hugely passionate about. Having been the mum of the local Crazy Dog – you do not want to be in that position! And don’t fall prey to the “Oh it’s okay my [insert breed here] won’t end up aggressive” – because any dog can end up that way.
But as with anything. Prevention is better than cure. Spending more time now getting it right from the ground up, will save you a lot of time, heartache and potentially a lot of money later.
Do you know some behavioural adjustment training can cost thousands? That it, as a process, can take years to do properly? Let me say that again.
Thousands of dollars (or pounds, or the equivalent).
What’s better in this scenario? Investing the time and a little money now? Or the alternative above? I know what I’d rather do!
3 – Social butterfly.
Your dog has to be out in public at some point in it’s life. That adorable puppy will not spend it’s entire life within the four walls of your home, so when you do have to go out your dog needs to be able to cope with that. They need to be sociable and socialised so that they can face the world and all of it’s challenges.
4 – Adaptable
Being able to look at something new and go “Oh, that’s ok!” is a wonderful ability of a confident, well trained dog. Puppies who are not that well trained, rarely come to this point. And whether that’s new additions to the family, moving home, or something more serious. A better-trained dog is less likely to fight you through the process which helps you in meaning they’re going to be less stressful for you too. Investing in your puppy now, is investing in your future happiness together.
5 – Bonding
You can have a wonderful bond with your dog with or without training, but a dog who you understand, work with, and train from the start, will inevitably end up being much more closely bonded with you, making their actions, temperament, and everything that surrounds them more reliable and trustworthy – because the bond they hold with you is phenomenally rewarding for them. Afterall, that’s why humans and dogs started to coexist once upon a time, and it’s why we’ll thrive going forwards.
6 – Knowledge
Learning what you need to know to be a responsible puppy parent is more than just getting your puppy to sit. It’s understanding the risks, the rewards, the body language and what each piece of equipment is for, does, and how to use all of that to set your puppy and dog (when grown) up for success at every step of their learning process.
7 – Being Their Best Advocate.
Part of raising a puppy is getting to know them, training your puppy will allow you to get that knowledge, and enable you to look out for them to the very best of your ability and to know when something doesn’t sound right, look right or seem correct.
They seem pretty obvious when I go through them, hmm? I think you can see it too. If you’ve invested in bringing a dog home, financially and/or emotionally – you owe them training! So with it now decided that you need to get your puppy trained… let’s do a few other questions that come with the subject of puppy training.
When Can My Puppy Start Training?
Puppy training basically starts as soon as puppy is born, whether this is socialisation with his or her new young siblings, or with hands, or with new textures and surfaces, it’s all learning. If you’re referring to toilet training? It should be encouraged from about 6 weeks, and cues like sit, lay down, recall and other such things, they can all be taught from about 6 weeks also.
If you wish to go to classes and socialising with other dogs, please wait until they are fully vaccinated – it’s not worth the risk.
What Should I Train My Puppy To Do?
A good, solid sit cue is the one I love the most. I think it’s so basic, and done right? It’s really powerful! A sit can stop jumping up, it can stop door rushing, it can prevent children being flattened. A great sit can replace a stay.
Other things you might want to teach (and probably should)
- Loose leash Walk
- Well mannered greetings
- Lay down
- Socialise with people
- Socialise with dogs
- Socialise with objects
- Socialise with vehicles (safely please!)
There’s a lot. Training is one of those things that never really ends? You’re never really done.
And if you’re into it, there’s a whole bunch of dog sports or events you can train your puppy to do! Just depends on your lifestyle, preferences and on your puppy. And don’t forget about the whole host of tricks you can teach your dog or puppy to keep them learning too!
Why Should I Try Puppy Training Classes?
If you can find a good one? Puppy training classes are really valuable. Please do make sure there is some level of support after and that they’re fully equipped to take you through to further stages. And if you want more information on finding the perfect one, why not read our article on how to pick the right class?
Still, a great puppy class can give you a great booster, in a semi-social situation which can give you a way to measure and compare against other puppies and dogs – a good trainer will also help you with extra questions once you’re under their guidance too, and should be able to assist you with minor issues and a few words of wisdom.
Puppy Training Is Too Expensive, What Can I Do?
Well, when price becomes an issue (which it is for a lot of people) you become faced with two options, do it yourself (see below) or to find a cheap, but reliable resource online that is widely available with a lot more of a hands off approach – but that entirely enables you and your puppy to learn without putting barriers infront of you.
Like my weekly update puppy training & development emails, which I’ve fondly called pupdates.
Every week, they get dropped into your inbox, it’s a one-off cost, and it’s going to give you every element of theory you need to get you and puppy rolling on to becoming a phenomenal pair.
Can I Train My Puppy Myself?
Yes, and you should always have involvement in your puppy’s training – but – should you do it totally unguided?
I wouldn’t recommend that.
It will take a lot of research, it will take a lot of understanding, and that takes time. Not to mention that if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up becoming a dog trainer yourself, because to truly train your puppy yourself you need to become an expert in all sorts of things that you really didn’t realise would become pertinent. From canine psychology, breeding, genetics, reward behaviour, biology, conditioned responses, to fear, desensitisation, counter conditioning and all sorts of learned behaviours that don’t immediately make sense.
Do you have that desire? Or do you want the answers presented to you?
Do It Yourself puppy training is essentially saying that you’re happy to try to solve a puzzle whilst painting the picture yourself with a fork… then closing one eye and standing on one leg to make sure you’re sufficiently hampered.
Do you trust yourself to get that rather important picture right?
I wouldn’t. It’s why I can give you a paint by numbers version of the masterpiece you’re creating.
This is why dog trainers are pretty useful people, and I’d argue, they’re really worth the investment in your puppy. Puppy training is important to get right, especially at this young and impressionable stage. You’re setting the right foundation for your entire future lives together.
Set up for success, train your puppy.
And that, should hopefully outline why you really want to invest time in your puppy’s training.
Help your puppy become a great dog by training them often, early, and by making a huge effort to understand them as best you can, avoid problems, create a stronger bond, and help your puppy on the way to being the very best dog they can be.
I mean, we send kids to school to learn to read and write, to do maths! All in an effort to make sure they have the tools they need to become great adults — why would that be any different for your dog?
On that note! Go sign up for your weekly update for what to expect from your puppy week by week, I call them pupdates (puppy… updates, cute no?!). Your puppy deserves them and you deserve a great dog.