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  • Writer's pictureFiona Alder

The Importance of Early Puppy Training


A question I often get asked by new puppy guardians is what age they should start training their puppy. My response is always the same - from day one! I’m not talking about training your new little pup to sit and stay as soon as you get them home; it’s more about teaching your puppy the skills they need for life so they make good choices. Reward-based training is the best way to communicate to your puppy what behaviours are worth repeating and what behaviours won't get them anything. Teaching boundaries using positive reinforcement from day one will guide your new pup towards good behaviours, setting you and your puppy up for success.



Puppy sitting with some chew toys


When you bring your new puppy home, early training is essential, and choosing the right method can make a world of difference in your puppy's development. Positive reinforcement training is a compassionate, effective approach that lays the foundation for a happy, well-behaved dog and a loving, trusting relationship between you and your new companion.


Why Start Training Early?

Puppies, much like children, are highly impressionable and absorb information rapidly. Their experiences during this critical period will shape their behaviour and personality for the rest of their lives. Early training helps instil good habits, prevents unwanted behaviours from taking root, and ensures that your puppy grows into a well-adjusted adult dog.

One of the primary benefits of early training is that it sets clear boundaries and expectations. Puppies are naturally curious and will explore their environment, often getting into mischief. Without proper guidance, they might develop undesirable behaviours like chewing on furniture, jumping on guests, or barking excessively. By starting training early, you can help set your puppy up for success and make life a lot easier in the long run.

Moreover, early training includes socialisation, which is crucial for your puppy's development. Exposing your puppy to different people, animals, and environments helps them become more adaptable and less fearful of new experiences. Well-socialised puppies are more confident and less likely to develop behavioural issues later in life.


The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement training revolves around the simple principle of rewarding desired behaviours to encourage their repetition. This method focuses on what your puppy is doing right, rather than punishing them for what they are doing wrong. It’s about creating a positive, encouraging learning environment where your puppy feels safe and motivated to learn.

When you reward your puppy for performing a desired behaviour, such as chewing the right thing or biting on a toy and not you, they associate that behaviour with something positive—whether it’s a treat, praise, or play. This positive association makes it more likely that your puppy will repeat the behaviour in the future. The beauty of positive reinforcement is that it turns training into a fun and rewarding experience for your puppy. They learn to enjoy the process of learning, and training sessions become a time of bonding and joy.

Using physical force, pain, or even raising your voice can have detrimental effects on your puppy's mental and emotional well-being. These methods may stop the unwanted behaviour temporarily, but they do so at a significant cost, leading to anxiety, a breakdown in the trust between you and your puppy and can even lead to aggression.


Building a Positive Relationship

One of the most rewarding aspects of force-free, positive reinforcement training is the strong relationship it fosters between you and your puppy. When your puppy sees you as a source of good things—treats, play, affection—they will naturally want to please you and will be more eager to learn.

Spending quality time together, engaging in play, and training in short, fun sessions helps build this bond. Your puppy will learn to look to you for guidance and reassurance, and you will enjoy the process of watching them grow and learn.


Overcoming Common Challenges

It's common to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of energy and curiosity your puppy has. They might chew on your favourite shoes, have accidents in the house, or bark at every little noise. These behaviours are normal parts of puppyhood, and with patience and positive reinforcement, they can be guided into more acceptable habits.

For example, if your puppy is chewing on furniture, provide them with plenty of appropriate chew toys and praise them when they use these instead. If they have an accident inside, gently redirect them outside and reward them when they go in the right spot. Consistency and positive reinforcement will help your puppy understand what is expected of them.


Why Betsy's Dog School is Your Perfect Training Partner

I understand the unique challenges of raising a puppy, which is why I’ve created a range of packages to cover everything from basic obedience to advanced skills, ensuring that you have the support and guidance you need every step of the way.

I specialise in force-free, reward-based training and my training packages are personalised so you get the exact help you need to navigate the early stages of your puppy's life.


You can find more information on my Pre-Puppy Package by clicking here, or you can email me at fiona@betsysdogschool.co.uk for more details.

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