The Benefits of Early Puppy Training
Dogs and humans are very different, but we have much in common. Both species are social mammals that live in families. The newborns of each species start learning immediately after birth. While the development rates are vastly different, each species must learn how to navigate the environment effectively, and they rely on their families to teach them the ins and outs of getting along in the world.
As humans, many of us instinctively know that our puppy will need help learning our complicated systems of norms and learning society’s boundaries and expectations for pet dogs. So, what is the best time and place to start? The answer is the same if you are talking about training a dog or starting a trip. All things start at the beginning.
Whether you like it or not, training starts as soon as you meet your pup. Training, at its core, is about learning to predict behavior. We learn what our pups will likely do during training in various situations. We learn how to predict if our pup will be successful when we ask them to do something for us; we learn about what prevents them from completing a task, how to get them back on track when they make mistakes, and we develop strategies to deal with distractions and failures. Meanwhile, our new pup is learning how we look when we are serious and playful. They make associations between the words we use and the behavior we intend, and they learn what to expect when they align with our intentions for their behavior and when they misunderstand us.
When we intentionally start training early, we can capitalize on a new family member’s natural excitement and novelty. We pay a lot more attention to dogs when they are new and when we are getting accustomed to their behavior. The same is true for the pup. Dogs tend to watch and be more attuned as they become accustomed to their new home. Dogs naturally understand boundaries. They might not know our boundaries, but they do understand that there will be boundaries in your relationship with them. It is common for dogs to seek out our boundaries for their behavior. They learn these boundaries by testing us with different types of behaviors. They sense our weaknesses and quickly learn how to exploit them for their benefit. Early training helps us through this process.
It is during training that we set in place our relational structure. We also develop the skills required to teach our dogs new things and to let them know when they are outside our expectations and boundaries for their behavior. When we start early, we have the best chance to create the habits we want our dogs to have while preventing them from forming unwanted habits.
The best advice that I have for new dog or puppy owners is:
- Start training early
- Show your dog that you control the timing of events and the immediate environment of your dog.
- Do not allow your dog to rehearse unwanted behavior; teach them to be calm using a crate.
- Use your language to teach them what you expect, then test them, and when they pass your test, allow them to earn more freedom.
If you would like a faster start or if you would like to benefit from the experience of an open-minded, relationship-based trainer, please contact us. We are here to help you Enjoy Your Dog!!! Give us a call today or fill out our online contact form.