One of the most common questions I get is, “when should I starting training?” At the age of 7 weeks, your puppy’s mental development is that of an adult’s. That’s young! The myth that dogs couldn’t begin training until 6 months wasn’t due to the fact they couldn’t learn, it was because the military-style training process was too harsh for young puppies to handle. By using positive reinforcement and motivational training, we can begin at a much earlier age. Since your dog has been learning on his own since he was 3 weeks of age, it’s never too early for you to take over that training. You’ll be amazed how quickly they will learn.
This leads me to my next commonly asked question, “why do we train?”
We train our dogs to open channels of communication. Without training we have no way to make a true connection and build the hierarchy that leads to a leader-follower relationship; their world becomes random and unfocused which can easily lead to destructive behavior. Both dogs and people are pack animals by nature, which is one reason we live so harmoniously together. We have much in common. We live in social groups with our own hierarchy and so do they. Hierarchy is important in our lives because it gives us structure. Without it, we have anarchy and that’s not something we want in our household. From the beginning, it is important to establish yourself as the “leader of the pack,” and this can quickly be achieved by implementing early training. And don’t be stressed! Even the most basic of commands used on a daily basis can achieve the almighty “leader of the pack.” We begin by having our dog work for us, meaning if they want something, they have to earn it. “You want a toy, food, jump on my lap? Then you have to perform a command, e.g. “sit,” to earn this privileged.” Mr. Moon sits for me 20 times a day, not because we are practicing, but because by doing so I am constantly reinforcing who I am in his life. When your dog understands his place in your “pack” he will become a confident and happy dog and you will be a confident and happy leader! Enjoy the journey.