That Puppy is Too Young to Train!

Love That Puppy Face! photographer Kadi Thingvall

Whew!  I hope that caught your attention, because it is time to debunk some myths when it comes to dog training; and reveal why once this might have been true!

I can’t tell you how often I have heard “I don’t train my puppies until they are 6 to 9 months” or worse “2 years!”

I think each time my mind hears this; I have a small stroke inside and I am afraid I don’t hear much afterwards at least for a while.

I actually get criticized in some circles for “obedience training too young”.

Learning to Give me Eye Contact at 14 weeks

This is ridiculousness if you ask me; but then I stop to wonder WHY anyone would subscribe to this kind of mentality or thinking.

If I think about it or you think about it you will realize it is because people are used to using compulsion corrections, and training collars when they think about dog training.

And, in that context I would have to agree; any dog is too young for those types of training tools ;)

Most Hidden Fence Brands…

Recommend that a puppy be at least six months old.  Why?  They recommend this because incurring a shock or an incredibly negative stimulus can be traumatizing.

The same is true for prong collars, choke chains and other devices used to force a puppy to comply.

So when someone says “That puppy is too young to train” I remember they must be under the impression that I am forcing him in some way to comply with my commands.

But They are WRONG! 

I am convincing him that it is in his best interests to comply to my commands and to listen to me and pay attention to what I like.

I begin training my puppy the moment his cute little paws cross my door frame and perhaps the minute he is enveloped into the security of my arms.  Everything from there on out is a training experience and opportunity to teach him what I like and therefore what is rewarding to him!

I can’t imagine waiting till a dog is 2 years old to begin training.  EGADS!  Can you imagine the behavior problems and high probability of aggression and entitlement he would have?

This is a big reason dogs and puppies end up in shelters.  People are waiting for some distinctive time to get started and instead they just get stuck in a rut of not training at all.

The dog gets everything he wants, or worse, he gets ignored and so he begins to feel like he is entitled to everything he wants and needs in this life.

People are creating monsters that are very hard to curb at a later date!


Learning Down at 6 weeks

You start right away the moment your puppy enters your house and you begin rewarding the good behavior you want to continue to see.  You reward your puppy with praise and with a treat when he sits, lays down, keeps all four feet on the ground, goes in his crate etc.

Once he begins to understand what you like he will begin to show these behaviors to you more often.

Then you can introduce the clicker (for more on that click here).

And once he understands the game and the value of the “click” you can begin to shape his behavior and get him to do exactly what you want him to do.

By starting out young you are avoiding bad habits and bad behaviors and teaching your dog from the start what life with you is like and what your expectations are.

I Started at 6 Weeks (more on not getting a puppy that young here)

When I brought my young baby home, I got started right away.

By the time he was 9 weeks old he was potty trained and he could also, sit, lay down, put his head down, give me eye contact, and was beginning to learn stay!

Because I don’t use force, there is no reason for me not to start as soon as possible.  And although he is still a naughty puppy sometimes, he is better than most puppies his age!

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  1. Bernice says:

    I am in the process of litter box training my yorkie, 5 months old. We have just started with the crate procedure. To date no success, but I will persevere as she is a lovely puppy and I want to enjoy her forever.

    Can you possibly give me any tips on this – I appreciate anything.


    Minette Reply:

    Read this. it should help you 🙂


  2. Tommy's mummy says:

    My puppy just sleep all day and is not interested in any snacks or toys that much it’s only his Second day with me he is 7 weeks old and I think he is a big depressed still from leaving his family I am sure with Time he will enjoy more and therefore be easier to train to sit lay etc.


  3. Autumn says:

    Thank you for posting this article! (even if it was a long time ago…) I am going to make my step dad and uncle read this for sure!

    We have recently aquired an adorable chocolate lab puppy. He was five weeks old when we got him due to the fact that his mother came down with a case of mastitis (sp?) when her pups were only three weeks old, and was put on powerful antibiotics. She was no longer able to nurse, so I offered to take the puppy early, seeing as he was seperated from his mother already.

    The second he came through our door, I began teaching him basic obedience, even though my family scolded me, and told me that he is too little, and that I shouldn’t push him. I kept on training anyway. Today he is 7 1/2 weeks old, knows sit, down, stay, shake, come (to a degree), and is nearly fully potty trained. Next on his agenda is heel, leave it, touch, and focus (in no particular order yet).

    But my family is still against me training him. My family tends to use forceful methods of training even when I prove that positive training works. As a result of undertraining (and shock collar caused aggression) we have had to put down a pit bull who was one of my favorite dogs, and rehome a sweet mastiff. Yet they STILL don’t listen to what I have to say (probably because I am a teenager, and their method of training is “obviously” working).

    But I have High hopes for this puppy. He will not leave my side, so their training will not get in the way of mine. He will be trained early (which I believe is one of the keys to training success), and will continue learning throughout his life. I aspire for him to become a therapy dog in the future so that he will have a job to do, plus it’s a great way to give back to the community :). I hope that when they see how my training succeeds, they will take a second look at their methods because I’m tired of seeing my dogs look at us in fear every time we lift a hand to pet them. Sorry for the long reply to an old post, but it just relates to what I have gone through, and I have a feeling that you will understand where I’m coming from 🙂


    Minette Reply:

    Glad it helped 🙂


  4. Sarah Dickerdon says:

    I have a 5 week old lab mixed. I am trying to potty train and chewing and biting. She will not listen at all.
    Any tips?


  5. Sarah Dickerdon says:

    I have a 7 week old lab mixed. I am trying to potty train and chewing and biting. She will not listen at all.
    Any tips?

    Sorry I put the wrong age on the other message


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