Starting (too) Early With Training


Well-Known Member
If they want to learn why not let them? Chaplin adored and still does learning and clicker training. If I left a clicker out on the table he'd start jumping around and picking it up in front of me til I got out the treats.

Just because they're learning doesn't mean they can't be puppies. He still went to the park and had play dates. He still annoyed his big brother, Baby, endlessly by tugging on his tail and ears. He still rolled around and ate things and enjoyed every quality of life he could.

You wouldn't keep a puppy from socializing so that he knows how to interact appropriately when an adult and not be reactive would you? Same concept. That is definitely learning, it's learning social skills. Learning is learning all around. It's not hindering his puppyhood, it's simply a growth process. Frankly I would've considered myself oppressive if I ignored his desire to learn.

Even if he didn't go nuts for the clicker, training tricks from early on improves problem solving abilities and the ability to learn quickly as an adult -- but he certainly didn't miss out on being a puppy under my watch ;)

And again, Chaplin has done puppy specific agility where they do not raise bars and it is done at a slow pace on soft turf. You think I could've gotten him to do it if he didn't get a kick out of running willy-nilly? He's a high-energy sporting dog and he needs mental stimulation and change ups in his schedule.

I trained my puppy and I did not deprive him of a puppy-hood.


Well-Known Member
the whole thing is, the earlier you start teaching the dog, the more intelligent the dog gets - it's been shown in studies that the more active and engaged the brain is, the more rapidly the neurons fire.

why would one not want to take advantage of the incredibly rapid growing period to develop the pup's brain?

true, you can teach dogs at any stage of life - but a dog that's been taught from puppyhood is going to be far easier to teach than a dog that's done not much of anything until he's [x] weeks or years old and then "shazam!", he's dumped into doggie university. my dog is SO smart and learns SO quickly that i deeply regret not getting my feces integrated until he was nearly 2yrs old.

this, btw, is referring to stuff that isn't hard on the dog's growing structure and isn't putting hard jolts on the spine or joints.


Well-Known Member
I agree with threenorns but it is also true that like a kid, a pup too needs time to grow up and to learn things. Yes, the basic steps can be considered in the starting weeks.

Golden River of Dreams

Experienced Member
I have SOME experience with early puppy training. Service dog organizations start training early because, it increases a puppy's attention span, improves their confidence, helps them deal with stress, and creates a really strong bond. I have heard at least one organization who tries to teach the puppy everything they need to know by the time they are put into their puppy raisers home. The philosophy being that if the puppy learns really early they will remember it the rest of their life even if they have no additional training until they come back for their advanced training as an adult. I have not really seen the full process to know if it has worked in that way. I also think some organizations want to start training early because they want to start socializing ASAP and they want them to have at least some manners when taken out in public. They are of course ambassadors for their individual programs and for Service dogs in general. Not everyone who sees a Service dog likes dogs so they need to make the best impression they can.

My experience has been that pups that start training early are smarter, easier to train and have a way longer attention span then puppies of equal age that have not started early. However if the trainer is a beginner it is possible to do more harm then good and if the dog changes homes or trainers it can greatly decrease their progress and increase their resistance to training.

If you start a puppy at two weeks, another at 8 weeks and another at 16 weeks (all from the same litter); the result is that at first the one starting at 2 weeks will be more in tuned with their trainer and have a way greater attention span then the puppies that start a bit later, but it will not take long for the latter puppies to catch up and possibly surpass the first puppy. This seems to be because the older puppies have more ability to expand their attention span quickly then the puppy could at 2 weeks.

When I got my first dog he was 6 months old he had been house broken and crate trained but he had never been on a leash or as the breeder said, "she couldn't even remember if she taught him how to sit". At first I noticed a lack of attention span, he would be working for a treat and then just suddenly wonder off. I was worried at first because this behavior seemed much like an older rescued dog that I had been working with, who was very independent and took for ever to learn how to learn or how to work without food present. (It is very easy to systematically phase out food for a young puppy.) However, it didn't take long for his attention span to drastically increase and learn everything that a Service dog learns and more. He is now very smart...I lost track of how many tricks he knows; he is very food motivated, but he is also willing to work without food being present. However he was very fearful. I wish that he had more socializing and maybe early training would have helped him to have more confidence. (I will never know.)

I agree with Fickla who says that training puppies is so much easier then when they are adults and I think she also said that dogs need to learn how to learn and I have experienced that to be true. Older dogs can learn, but until it has really clicked with them and they learn how to learn, dog training is a whole lot harder. I think the age though is different for individual dogs where they are so much harder to train. So even training a 16 week old puppy or a five month old dog will be so much easier then training a 2 or 3 year old dog.

I also would consider any interaction with your dog, training. The dog is learning what is expected of him and what he can/can't get away with. A lot of times I have trouble working with families that say their dog hasn't had any training and the dog is an adult. The truth is the dog has been trained and learned only bad behaviors, that the owners didn't even realize they had taught the dog.

So anyway I have not seen enough of the 2 week old puppy training to adult dogs to see if it is beneficial but I have definitely seen so much benefit to training dogs early and I will always start my future puppy's training ASAP. Although I don't think I will have the opportunity or necessity to start training pups at 2 weeks. I love to train puppies because it is so much fun and surprisingly easy.

skye lark

I personally think early training is essentialI as it is said that puppies learn more easily, quickly and happily in the first few months of life than at any time after, like little sponges, before their adolescent wants, needs and personalities kick in then when they are in their tweenage trying to impose their own will on situations the early training can be literally a lifesaver if the pups been taught an instant down or recall. I personally think 8 wks is early enough to start, before that they just need to be with their litter mates and dam to learn socialisation etc on the whole it's impossible to spend too much time with your pup / dog, be it training, playing, cuddling or just watching tv together.