Training Options for Young Puppies
Raising a young puppy to become the dog of your dreams requires mastery of house training, manners, socialization and foundation obedience. Once puppies have developed these solid essential skills, more advanced training is possible.
The Wonder Weeks
The ideal time to start puppy training is 8-12 weeks, known as their Wonder Weeks. A young puppy’s personality is molded and formed during these early weeks. This is why puppies typically go home with new families around 8 weeks of age. If you have the great fortune to get a puppy before 4-months-old, you will significantly shape your puppy’s personality, for better or worse.
Puppy Training Skills
What are young pups capable of learning during their Wonder Weeks? The most important are socialization skills because this critical social phase ends at 4 months of age. House training includes potty and crate training skills. Manners includes preventing unwanted behaviors, such as jumping, barking, whining, mouthing, biting, growling and snarling. Teaching young pups to focus (LOOK) on you and COME when called are essential to keep them safe and build solid foundation for more advanced training skills.
Puppies Rot in Solitary Confinement
Unfortunately, some young puppies are left home alone, in a crate, for long periods of time while their humans are working. Young puppies in their peak socialization period do not thrive with these regular bouts of solitary confinement.
Leaving a young puppy home alone during their Wonder Weeks is detrimental to their mental, physical and emotional growth and development. If your young pup is destined to be alone in an empty house for long periods of time, you are doing your puppy, and ultimately yourself, a huge disservice. Just don’t do it!
If possible, we recommend that new puppy parents take some time off to bond with their newbie puppy and start training. When human children are very young, moms often take maternity leave while dads take paternity leave. Pup-ternity leave is taking time off to be with and start training your young puppy.
If you have an 8-week-old puppy, taking a month off during their Wonder Weeks is highly recommend. It will reap benefits for the rest of your life and your pups lives.
Those with the option to work from home have the “luxury” to be with their pups during their workday. The COVID pandemic made this a reality for many people. This is an ideal situation to raise a pup, but problems can occur, including being less productive in work and your dog going crazy whenever you leave (separation anxiety).
Alternative Options for Puppy Care
If you do not work from home and/or pup-ternity leave is not possible, what other options are available, especially during their Wonder Weeks? Maybe a friend or relative can help socialize them and train puppy manners and foundation skills while you are working. If you have a person knowledgeable about raising a puppy along with being willing and able to do this for you, count yourself very lucky!
Another option is using outside resources such as a daytime boarding facility, a traditional board and train (B&T) facility or a specialized, residential B&T program. First, putting a young puppy in a boarding-only facility or traditional (B&T) facility with kennel runs and outside cages is NOT advised. These types of boarding facilities are not warm and fuzzy for your young puppy.
In addition, these facilities typically do not provide puppy training services. In fact, these traditional boarding facilities are a great place for young pups to pick up bad habits – something your puppy does not need! Also, a young puppy’s developing immune system poses a significant challenge. unfortunately, veterinarians often recommend waiting until puppy is vaccinated, typically between 16-20 weeks of age, well after their Wonder Weeks period.
Residential Board & Train
Residential B&T programs are another option for training young, Wonder Week puppies. While boarding-only residential programs are possible, the drawback is lack of the training component. In addition, without the training component, young pups can easily pick up bad habits from other boarding dog client. Concerns regarding their immature immune system and picking up bad habits from others.
We offer home-based B&T programs (Wonder Weeks Puppy program). First, because your puppy will live in your home “furever”, home-based B&T programs mimic your pup’s home living and training environment. Second, your puppy lives with a professional trainer who is extremely experienced and well-equipped to train puppies. Third, puppy gets tons of socialization with puppy-friendly, trained dogs (The Muttley Crew). Because our B&T programs are small in size, your puppy gets lots and lots of TLC (training and loving care).
When working with puppies, especially during their critical Wonder Weeks, providing developmentally appropriate puppy activities is ideal. We get puppies on the path to becoming your dream dog right away. If your puppy dog needs training, during their Wonder Weeks and beyond, we can help with all your training needs.
Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author and certified professional dog trainer with Lucky Dog Training Asheville. Please follow us on Instagram @TrainingLuckyDogs and @KyloRenPup. Please contact us for more information at TrainingLuckyDogs@gmail.com or call us at 828-423-9635.