We are often asked, “How soon should puppy training begin?”.

On one hand, some people will tell you that you can’t begin training your puppy until a certain age. On the other hand, we’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

The best time to start training your puppy or dog is from day one. When puppies are young, they are like sponges, ready to absorb everything in this new world they find themselves in. The key to a well-behaved adult dog is proper training throughout their life. When we say training, we don’t just mean “sit,” “down,” or, “come here.” We’re talking about socialization, housebreaking, and manners. These things are key to your puppy’s development; the habits and behaviors your dog learns now will stick with them for the rest of their life. Many of the problems we see in older dogs that we work with started when they were much younger. Improper socialization and poor housebreaking can turn a cute puppy into an aggressive, fearful or destructive dog. The sooner your puppy learns good behaviors, the better.

Obedience training benefits from an early start, too. In the same way that children immersed in different languages can pick up several without breaking a sweat, a dog’s brain has the greatest potential when it’s still forming. Our experience has been that adult dogs have the fastest, most functional training results if they were given a strong foundation as puppies. These dogs are also less likely to develop behavioral problems later on, as they have been properly socialized and housebroken. That’s why First Choice Canine offers 20% off our adult training to puppies who complete our Puppy Basics program.

If you a brining home an adult dog, it is still important to get a head start with training. A new dog in a new environment will learn new things. That being said, even though an older dog may already have developed poor behavior, they can be changed. No dog is too old to learn, they just take a bit more effort to train. Older dogs are more “stuck in their ways” than puppies. Dogs that are 3 or 4 years old have spend those years doing things the wrong way. It’s become a habit, it’s hard to change, but it can be done. You can’t expect a dog that has spent years of its life doing something wrong to simply change their behavior in just a few short sessions. It takes time for a dog to learn the behavior you expect and forget the one you don’t. The key to getting the new behavior to stick is consistency. In those early weeks of training, it is of the utmost importance that the training is consistent and repetitive. If you’re making a lot of compromises and not giving the dog enough opportunities to learn, you can’t expect the training to stick.

Often, people’s dogs have problems, but they don’t like to admit it. They are embarrassed or they feel they have failed the dog. Sometimes they blame the dog. We need to look at things from the canine perspective. Dogs don’t come into the world looking to cause trouble- they just want to be happy. Sometimes what makes them happy will make you pull your hair out: chewing, barking, jumping etc. But if they are never taught that this behavior isn’t acceptable, who’s to blame them for sticking with bad habits?

We also want to avoid blaming a dog for not learning as quickly as dogs we’ve had in the past. Some dogs take much more training and consistency than others due to their breed and natural tendencies. As a responsible dog owner, the best thing you can do for yourself and your dog is to get the help you need as soon as your dog starts showing bad behavior that you can’t seem to improve on your own. Don’t wait! The longer you wait, the more comfortable your dog becomes with this behavior, and the harder it will be to break them of it. Start enjoying your dog the way you want to, without the hassle or fear of your dogs behavioral problems.

So remember, it’s never too late or too early to start training your dog. And If you decide you need help along the way, First Choice Canine offers dog training in Northern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire, and we’re only a call away! We’re proud to offer dog obedience training, behavior modification, and aggressive dog rehabilitation in Northern MA and Southern NH.