At what age can I start educating my dog?
It's never too soon
This is a question causing the owners many doubts and problems, particularly to those who own young dogs. Most of them come to our School with dogs aged between 6 months and 1 year old. They tell us that "an expert" in canine education mentioned that it is not possible to teach anything to a dog until a certain age. This age, according to "the expert", lies between 6 months and 1 year old. Oddly enough the dog owners come to us quite desperate, telling how nobody at home can control the dog. What started as a funny puppy became within a year a wild animal making everyone's lives miserable.
I feel sorry for the owners "traumatized" by their 8 months old "puppy", asking if the dog will get traumatized with the obedience training classes, as "someone told them..."
Fortunately for all those bothered owners, I can inform them that, at 8 months old, the dog already reached the age from which it can be taught the basic house rules. What I cannot understand is how it is possible that someone can mention or think a young dog is not able to learn how to behave, respecting the other members of the family. Is it really so hard to understand that a puppy needs to be explained some things?
The dog, as the social animal it is, lives in a group (pack), and a pack can only work correctly when there is order and respect for the rules imposed by the leader. The adult members start giving a straight treatment to the puppies when they are 4 months old. From that moment on, the young dogs must measure their acts really well; by being careless they risk to get a forceful correction from their superiors. Until they become 4 months old, they are treated less strictly. Although the mother will make things clear if necessary. A daring puppy that comes to bite painfully the ear of its mother will get the belonging correction without hesitation. The mother is not disposed to wait until the puppies are 6, 8 or 12 months old to start explaining that they cannot do whatever they want. Equally, the other members of the pack cannot afford the risk of waiting too long to educate the young ones. Remember that where there is no order there cannot be survival.
All the above reasons imply that it will not seem strange to your dog that you try to teach it some things. On the contrary, it will be perfectly normal. A 7 weeks old puppy can easily be taught to obey certain words. It is a fact that the younger, the easier a dog will learn. It is even proven scientifically that a dog early taught, will develop more intelligence as an adult. This dog will have a better capacity to solve problems.
A correctly and consciously educated dog since youth, has a different basis, a different starting point, than another dog taught nothing, whether it was by convenience or due to lack of information. In most of the cases it is the dog itself which, with its behaviour, makes clear to the owners that it is time to try to return the situation to normal. What then starts is a re-educational process, sometimes really difficult to be brought to a good end. Depending on the size and character of the dog it may result even impossible for the owner to do this re-education. These "impossible" dogs would have been much easier to educate when they were young. This way, it would never have come to an extreme situation.
The fact that every dog, no matter how young it is, is constantly learning, automatically, has to be taken into account. Whether you want it or not, your dog learns. They focus on things like: what do they like, what is everyone's role in the pack, how far can they reach within the hierarchy... It is recommendable to be aware of these facts, to be able to avoid big annoyances.
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