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When is my puppy ready for training?

Your puppy is ready to learn as young as 8 weeks. A puppy is constantly learning through observing the environment. They watch you, other dogs, and anything they contact. Keeping your puppy safe while exploring is your first step in training it. Puppy vaccinations are usually at 8, 10, and 12 weeks of age. During this time exploration can be close to home and with dogs, you know well. The most common things to teach your puppy aged 10-12 weeks are how to potty outside and not in the house, sleep in a crate or pen alone, follow a daily routine, walk with you, look at you, and use toys for chewing not people.

At 12 weeks of age, your puppy is ready for a more formal approach to puppy training. Almost all veterinarians agree that positive reinforcement training is the most effective method of dog training. Positive reinforcement training focuses on rewarding your puppy for good behavior, rather than punishing bad behavior. Commonly referred to as reward-based dog training. Giving your dog something they like - such as food, toys, or praise - when they show a particular behavior means that they're more likely to do it again. It's important to investigate what your dog likes and what their favorite things are. Every interaction with your puppy is a learning moment. Be aware of the behaviors you like and encourage them. Follow a pattern of responding to your puppy quickly.

Hand signals are easy for a young puppy to understand. Make hand signals for your puppy to see that encourage it to follow you when you walk, come towards you when you show attraction, and become calm when you calm down. The command words for these behaviors are: let's go, come, and calm. Your tone of voice also gives meaning to the words you use in dog training. Match a happy tone for active behaviors, a low and slow tone for calm behaviors, and a direct tone for behaviors you need a quick response to. Teach your puppy commands early in its' life.

The consistent use of specific puppy training words, and signals is very important as your puppy gets to be 5-6 months of age. Repeat the unique command word for each behavior clearly, and continue showing the dog your hand signal, even if you think your dog has already learned a command. The extra help is most needed if your puppy is in a distracting environment. Things that distract a puppy, and make it difficult for the puppy to focus are; new people, new dogs, new places, new noises, and lots of activities going on all at once. Be patient with your young dog. Practice puppy training often without distractions. Be positive and encouraging with your dog training. Patience, practice, and positivity will give you the well-behaved puppy you desire.

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