When to Start Dog Training
Asking when to start dog training is a lot like asking when you should start brushing your teeth. The answer is that you should start brushing as soon as you have your first tooth. Your tooth doesn't need to get used to your mouth before you start brushing and your dog doesn't need to get used to your house before you start training. You should start training the dog the day you get the dog.
Start Training the Day You Get Your Dog
The reality is the best time to start training is the day you get your new dog. That leads us into a bit of a paradox because people would rather wait for their dog to have a behavior issue (reactive) instead of training it to not have a behavior issue in the first place (preventive). Getting rid of a behavior issue is going to take way more training than preventing one from ever occurring.
There's also the problem that you can't train a dog to forget a behavior; you can only train them to do something else. What this means is that if your dog has learned to love to do a problem behavior, it will never forget how much fun it is to do that problem behavior. As a result, your dog will always want to do that problem behavior that it loves doing. Sure, you can train it to do something else, but the drive to do the problem behavior will always be there once it's learned (which is why preventive training is so important).
Two Scales (Owner Ability and Dog Difficulty)
Heres another way of looking at this paradox (our tendency to be reactive rather than preventive with training). In order for you (the owner) to successfully train your dog who has started exhibiting problem behaviors, your training ability has to be better than your dog's difficulty. Let's paint a picture real quick:
- On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 = dog trainer ability and 1 = completely new to dogs), let's say you're at a 5 out of 10.
- And let's say you have a dog that's 7 out of 10 on the difficulty scale (10 = most difficult dog ever and 1 = easiest dog ever).
Both of the above assumptions means that:
- you're not going to be able to train your now-showing-problems dog because your level is lower than his/her level, or
- you'll have to spend a lot of time studying dog training in order to raise your talent level enough to handle and train your 7 out of 10 dog.
Neither option sounds very fun, right?
Another important piece of this is that the difficulty scale can increase with time and age. So, let's pretend that you would have started training when your dog was 8-weeks old and let's say that at that time, your puppy was a 3 out 10 on the difficulty scale (you're still a 5 out of 10 on the ability scale). That means that you would have easily been able to train that same dog from the beginning without having to raise your training skill level.
Start 'Training' Before You Get Your Dog
Another way of answering this question could also be that you should start training before you even get the dog. This is because picking out a dog is probably the most important aspect of preventing behavioral issues from ever occurring in the first place.
Here's what you'll need to know about picking out the right dog:
- research what breeds will work best for you
- research how to avoid individual dogs that are showing red flag behaviors
- figure out what training style you want to use
- choose and buy (if necessary) the equipment you'll need for your training style
- learn how to train your dog to relax
- learn how to to teach basic commands
- learn how to teach when to interact with other dogs and people
- learn how to teach your dog to perform a job as a way of mentally and physically tiring it out (as a bonus, dogs love having a job)
Basically, when should you start training your dog? Right now. When should you start training yourself how to train dogs? Yesterday.
Picking Out the Right Dog - Training Service Offered
If you're wanting help with choosing the right dog for your household, you can either reach out directly and I can help or you can read this ebook to make sure you're on the right track. This is one area that I specialize in and that's not widely offered by trainers, although it's a simple and easy way to avoid unwanted problems.