Can I start puppy training classes before 12 weeks old?
So you have welcomed a new puppy into your household or about to and you are surfing the net for puppy training classes; for all the answers you never knew you needed. Confusing isn’t it? The web is a minefield of information and videos. A small amount of it is good, but the majority is poor and conflicting.
Thankfully you have ended up at this page where you will get the right information, individualised for your dog and yourself. Owning a puppy is not easy and this is perhaps the number one mistake many new puppy owners make….they didn’t realise it would be this hard!! Don’t worry it isn’t once you have the right information and structure in place.
With the right support, the experience of welcoming a new puppy into your house will be more enjoyable for both the puppy and your family. Muttley Solutions offers puppy training classes which are on a one to one basis at your location. We have a flexible booking system. You don’t need to have sessions every week like traditional puppy training classes as I need you to practice.
When should I start puppy training classes?
This is a very common question and most people will book traditional training classes in a hall. They usually start those about 12 weeks onward as that is what everyone else does….why?
The answer is simple in that it is advised the puppy does not mix with other dogs until they have had their second lot of injections which is about the 12 week mark. However, we actually do the dog a great injustice by holding off training until after the injections. I have known puppies who are heading into 15-16 weeks before they start training as there were no classes starting. That’s a lot of weeks to learn bad behaviours!!
When can i start teaching my puppy simple commands?
I have puppies who started with me at 8 weeks who, by the 12th week, already have the early foundations to not pulling on the lead, trained to a whistle and have a very basic recall to the whistle. May seem a bold claim, but there are a couple of YouTube videos you can watch on this page of clients I have worked with.
Hopefully if you are reading this you are researching getting a puppy or have already seen the puppy you want and are waiting to bring them home. This is the best time to get the involvement of a puppy trainer involved. May seem strange paying good money to see a puppy trainer when you don’t have the puppy yet!! However, this decision could make the start of your journey with the puppy a whole lot smoother.
If you are bringing the puppy into a house where there are children then this is a totally different ball game and you need to understand the impact they can have on your training. Children quickly teach the puppy all the behaviours you don’t want!!
Critical learning phase in puppy training
Without getting too technical there is a very good reason why you should get an experienced and qualified puppy trainer involved prior to or as soon as possible after you have the puppy. There is a magic learning window for the puppy from birth until about 14-16 weeks where they are like a sponge for experiences.
It is referred to as the critical learning phase. Any trainer worth the money they are charging understands this actually is critical to the future positive development of the puppy. Many problems we see later can be avoided by using this time wisely. Once gone we cannot get it back. Our job during this critical learning phase is to ensure they have as many positive experiences which revolve around your lifestyle.
Regardless of the age of your puppy Muttley Solutions can offer you an affordable package for the service you get. I offer no magic solution and will be realistic from the outset. As with all aspects of dog training you get out what you put in!!
Where is the best place to do puppy training?
Traditional dog trainers who teach puppy classes will have a hall where they hold perhaps a 6 week puppy class and you attend each week on a set day at a set time. There will be many of these classes running every evening somewhere in Dorset. These are the bread and butter of the puppy training world and I have done my time at such classes. For many of these trainers this is their ‘pay the bills’ job and so they need the numbers to cover costs and make a living.
Having worked in these halls as a puppy trainer I can see the benefits. However, I also learnt that for many of the puppies and their owners this was totally the wrong setting. After 6 weeks they had not had value for money and could not replicate what they had learnt in the ‘real world’. Any further training was seen as pointless and the dog started on the quick road of learning behaviours we don’t want. Maybe 1-2 years later another trainer is brought in to now resolve issues. Of course many puppies go though the traditional training system and make the grade.
Training in The Live Environment
At Muttley Solutions your first training sessions will take place in your home up to the magic 12 weeks. This is a great opportunity to put in place a communication channel between you and the puppy so they know when they are doing the right thing. The training at this stage is not about the dog. It is about you getting the techniques right so you can provide proactive leadership and structure for the puppy. They already know what to do, I need you to do it right.
The home and the garden soon provides minimal distractions. Once you can get it right here then we can venture out. If you cannot do the techniques in this low distraction environment then you will struggle when you try to work with your puppy outside in a live environment.
Puppy and owner training in the live environment
After the 12 weeks all my training will be in a live environment which could be your garden, a local park or my training facility. I see little point in training in a warm dry hall where it is all very predictable and then expect you to replicate the techniques in a live environment. Training might start a little slower, but the puppy soon learns what is expected and distractions become a common thing.
More importantly you learn to be with your dog outside. You will learn to be proactive and not reactive. You will learn to anticipate potential issues and deal with them before they challenge you or the puppy. Overall you will feel more confident and safer taking your puppy out into the big world. Because you are able to do this the puppy will learn to trust your decision making and knows you can keep them safe as they explore. As you can see my role is more about training you. I won’t sugar coat it. you are paying me good money to get results. If you are letting the dog down then I will tell you in a constructive, but frank manner.
Many owners are surprised at how difficult it can be to learn new skills and multitask, it happens to us all. My job is to ensure you are doing it right.
Does your new puppy have any of these issues?
I once read that in puppy training there are two choices for the puppy. The right way and the wrong way. Initially the puppy doesn’t realise it has a choice. It is our job to make sure that choice remains a secret.
So what do I mean by this? Nature has done a fantastic job in ensuring the puppy has the right skills to survive. Much like us. puppies don’t have a book about life and it is learnt through trail and error. For a puppy, if a behaviour they try is rewarding, then that must be a good behaviour to try again. If the puppy gets nothing from a behaviour then it might try again. However, all dogs do not waste energy doing things which do not bring a reward….what would be the point?
When your puppy does something it wants to know there is something in it for them. This reward can be attention, treats or playtime. If a behaviour delivers a reward then the puppy will try that behaviour so it gets another reward.
Sadly, in our world those behaviours which deliver rewards are usually the exact behaviours we don’t want the puppy to do. Think about some of the behaviours in the list above and you can see where this is going.
We Teach The Puppy Many of The Behaviours We Don’t Want
Remember a puppy does not know right from wrong or good from bad, these are human terms. The puppy knows about making the most out of an opportunity and persistence. It is an expert in seeking out the reward monster and learning and repeating behaviours which delivers those rewards.
Take the example of jumping up. Human bends down to fuss dog and removes hand dog follows onto back legs and human thinks how cute, makes some nice noises and plays with the puppy again. Puppy learns jumping up is rewarding. Puppy jumps up and human pushes puppy away. Again a great game for the puppy and we have quickly trained our puppy to jump up us for attention. Of course the puppy sees all humans as fair game for jumping for rewards.
Remember this rule: All four paws on the floor at all times!!
As you can see we quickly train our puppy all these bad habits without even realising it. We then blame the puppy for having such bad behaviour. If only the good behaviours were as easy to train.
My role as a puppy trainer is to ensure I teach you how to ensure your puppy never finds out that the behaviours we don’t want are rewarding. If I get to you before you get to the puppy we have a fantastic opportunity to ensure the puppy only gets rewarded for those behaviours we want to train them for. It is hard and your daily training mantra will be CPPR……….Consistent, Persistent, Patient and Repetition.
One to One Puppy Training Classes
Muttley Solutions offers one to one puppy training which fits in with your location and offers flexible classes which you can book online. This means you can fit essential training in around your busy life style.
You don’t have to have a session every week as you do with traditional group classes. As you progress I space out the sessions so you can practice. I offer free text advice so you can still get support and we can arrange a quick session if there are issues.
Traditional sessions can try and put in too much into the 6 weeks and you leave wondering what that was all about. I try to focus on the some essentials so we get the the basic foundations in place. This will be around getting you communicating with your puppy. Putting in the basics for loose lead walking and working on the techniques for the recall. Around these we will be teaching the basics.
Some of the teaching we will cover:
What can I expect to learn in my training session?
The session will be about 1 hour long with small breaks. You will get handouts if relevant and homework practice will be expected in order to progress and get the full benefit from the sessions.
Once training starts to progress, my dog Henry maybe introduced to some of the training sessions if appropriate as he can be a great distraction!!
If I were involved from 8-9 weeks I would expect that by the time the dog is 12-14 weeks you will have these basics in place.
By this time you might just be starting group puppy class training. Remember there is no quick fix and it will take a lot of practise on your part to achieve this.
By 12 weeks these basics should be starting be practised
- Be able to communicate with the dog and reward correctly
- Have a basic recall in place
- Respond to the whistle
- Starting to work correctly on the lead
- Working on some of the basic commands
- Socialising the dog into your life during the critical development phase which is usually ending by the time you go to conventional training classes
Of course all dogs are different and so are their owners. The correct practice is more important than the amount.
Remember, puppy training is about laying the foundations for life long learning.
It is the building blocks to improving both obedience and manners as the dog get older.
A few lessons with minimal practice with your your puppy will not lead to a well trained dog!!
To qualify for the puppy rate of training your dog will need to be 5 months old or less.
I have weekday dates which you can see availability and book times via the link below. If you want weekend sessions then please contact me directly.
Teaching Recall and Loose Lead Walking at 12 weeks: Videos
This is a video of Rusty who is 12 weeks old. He is learning to walk on a loose lead and being taught that looking at the owner will deliver a reward.
As you can see he is very responsive and is quickly getting the concept of stopping near his owner’s leg will deliver a reward. The leg is the reward spot and Rusty is learning this is the place to be and so we have a loose lead!!
By using classical and operant conditioning with new puppies means we can set their default to ‘no pulling on the lead’. Of course, this takes a lot of practise work and patience on the part of the owner and this lady is doing a great job.
This is Hodge a 12 week old puppy who has been trained to respond to the whistle for his recall. Using classical and operant conditioning Hodge has been taught very early a good recall.
The idea is to now proof this in various settings and distraction levels. A great start to recall training which puts many older dogs to shame!! The owners have put the practice in and followed the training I set them.