Starting (too) Early With Training


Experienced Member
I have seen a couple of older threads in which video's were shown of young pups (13 days = almost 2 weeks old).
I couldn't help but wonder why you would want to teach a 13 days old pup to sit/lay down/put front paws on a basket?
What's the rush for?

In my opinion the first 12 (especially the first 8) should mainly focus on socialisation (other dogs/car/vet/handling/other pets/noises), the beginnings on house training and the beginnings on staying alone.
I think this is more than enough to teach a pup ('baby').
I mean they also need their rest and I'd rather teach young pups to settle on their own and relax than to spin/high five and jump around all the time.

Can't we all agree on the fact that a dog is never too old to learn?

Why are some people so eager to learn their dog 100 tricks within 3 months or so? What does it matter, it's not a race right?
I also have to admit that I don't see dogs 'working' when they are completing excercised, but I see pups wanting to get to their food as quickly as possible (without being aware of the fact what it is they are doing).

Of course I also taught my dogs sit and lay down and other basics in those first weeks, but seriously 3 month old pups that know 30 tricks (Border collie, labrador or maltese I don't care). But can't pups just be pups? Exporing the world on step at the time?

Isn't this overdoing it?

What's your opinion, can we exaggerate too much or is it fine?

the video I mean:


Honored Member
I think that the first 8-9 weeks you shouldn't try teaching them anything. After that I think it's fine as long as your teaching one trick at a time and the puppy is having fun. it's not like learning tricks is work for a dog they have fun doing it and it helps create a bond,if it wasn't fun for Missy to learn tricks than would' t teach her any. So I think it's fine to teach young pups tricks, it's fun for you and the pup. The puppy still gets to explore the world, get into things their not supposed to whether you teach them tricks or not.


Honored Member
Not really sure what the context of these videos even was - were they really trying to "teach" these puppies anything, or ??? Not sure. At that age, their eyes had only been opened for a few days (they open around 11 days as I recall) so that puppy was pretty much following it's nose. If they're thinking they have a prodigy because the puppy now "sat", well, ok. They have a puppy smelling and searching for the next meal - which at 2 wks old, they def shouldn't have to work for! Wobbling on those little legs as far as the "milk truck" has wandered should be job enough! Puppies are learning SO much every single minute for the first few months, it's clearly not like they're cruising thru life with nothing to do. I'm with letting them be puppies - and yes, they have enough to do trying to figure out our world of housetraining, and that "sit" stuff after 8 wks old - they suren't don't need it the second their eyes open. *sigh*


Staff member
Interesting! I know it's good to have alot of different surfaces and toys and such in the pen with young babies but I cant see how it's fair to start making them work for food before they're even on solid food. I raised a litter of St. Poodles and started having them "work" for food at 4-4.5 weeks, when they first started wanting their "gruel" (each puppy was slightly different). They learned to walk across surfaces, and to crawl around on a wobble board and stuff, then around 5 weeks we started working on grooming and some behaviours like sit and down and come. 2 weeks is WAAAYYYY too early, imo


Honored Member
Sara, exactly -- I also raised one litter (took in a pregnant stray and fostered). As the weeks went by, we also exposed them to many different surfaces, toys, noises, places (neighbors house/yard), people, kids, etc. Thru all that, they're learning SOO much and taking in SOO much. Of course, we also started working on "come puppy" and pottying outside - all good behaviors. I sent those puppies home all "coming" like lightening to "come puppy" (everyone was amazed), and of 11 puppies, almost no accidents in the house anymore. That was HUGE and a lot to learn (imo) by 7 wks old. Sheesh, they're so busy learning about all their surroundings, exploring, figuring out the world, learning steps, stuff in the yard, how to get around, etc, they don't need to be trying to figure out "sit" and "spin" the second their little eyes open. Some people either have control issues, or not enough to do ... and sadly (as usual) dogs pay the price. :confused:


Well-Known Member
Those videos make me think "look at me, I'm important", not "do this with the puppies".

Puppy learns that fingers are not teats and will not give milk, then learns that human fingers deliver food. Not really what I want to teach puppies. I think housebreaking at the proper age, sit instead of jump up, and possibly come are good things for puppies to know by the time they are sent off with their new families, other than that they should be learning doggie things.


Honored Member
That doesn't look fun at all. They shouldn't start training that early, the puppies don't even know what they're doing!!:confused:
I feel sorry for those puppies, they can't be free to act like puppies, imo. The youngst I would start training would be around 4 weeks old, so the puppies understand that training is fun.

What's the point of teaching the puppy in the first video to spin?? He can barely walk!! He doesn't have any balance yet!! I think they took it too far...


Well-Known Member
This makes me sad :(

My first goal with Thor was to socialize him and desensitise him to noises, textures, crowds etc and just be a puppy. Even know I don't want to overload him with new tricks and confuse him or stress him out. I work on Thor's time.


Experienced Member
I agree with everyone here. A 13 day old pup should be getting exposure to surfaces, smells, and sounds. Not tricks. I doubt this is beneficial. I wouldn't start trick training until the dog is 2 months old.


Experienced Member
I am one who does teach puppies lots of tricks as soon as I get them. My goal is NOT to see how many tricks i can squeeze in as early as possible, but rather to teach the puppy how to learn. While dogs of any age can learn things, puppies learn things very quickly and you can easily set the stage of how future training and even future interactions can go. In my opinion, the benefits of early learning go beyond a specific skillset but include:
- problem solving skills
- body awareness
- how to deal with mild stress and frustration
- building a strong relationship with their trainer
- building value for a variety of reinforcements other than training=food by using lots of personal play and praise alongside

And on the "skill" side it also has the added benefits of setting the stage for the rules in my house and putting more emphasis on the "YES" this is what I want you to do, rather than the "NO" don't do that! (crate games, baby leave its, go mats, sits, down, other impulse control activities!)

And with a good trainer, the training/play sessions will of course never take away from socialization time and puppy play time. It would also not interfere with teaching the puppy how to relax. A puppy/dog who is constantly offering behaviors and not sitting still is not a result of too early training but rather on misplaced emphasis and poor training (or just simple genetics).

While I have never trained 2wk old puppies, I certainly would if I were raising a litter. Coping with very mild stress and the other benefits listed above are a great foundation, and I personally see zero downside.


Experienced Member
I do agree that pups benefit from situation in which they have to deal with (very) mild stress.
But don't you think this is a bit getting carried away?

I mean I think there is a very good reason why service dogs (but also working dogs for the police) for example aren't fully trained untill they are 1 year old.
I'd like to give a dog still the opportunity to just be 'dog'. I do also think that a dog would be more than happy in a life in which he can't balance on a beam or something similar (for example), working breed or couch patatoe. In the end for them it's just being active (mentally & phsyically).
I think that although early learned is easily done, it doesn't mean that an older dog won't be able to learn those tricks. Mazzel for example is very, very aware of his body and nails coördination/balance tricks eventhough I didn't start with this until he was 2 years old.


Experienced Member
Well actually, it's not entirely true that service dogs aren't fully trained until they're a year old. I work at a service dog organization and in the weekly classes our puppy raisers attend they are encouraged to work their way up through their "levels" and many of the seasoned puppy raisers have dogs that are doing all of the trained tasks mobility assist dogs need to do well before 12 months of age. Most aren't of course, but those with experienced handlers are. Skill wise, there are some that could be ready to go with a client by 8 months of age. Of course maturity wise, that is never the case :) So while service/police dogs don't graduate until on average 2yrs of age, it's not because they're too young to have FUN learning the skills.

If you go to the website of puppy prodigy, it is a non profit that is focused on building service dog puppies. Learning Focus.htm

Do I think that doing everything they're doing at a young age is necessary to have a great service dog, sports dog, etc? No. As I said before, a dog can learn something at any age. (And training will never make up for genetics.) But again, I don't see the goal of this type of early learning being to cram as many skills in as young of age as possible. And spending a few 2min training sessions each day certainly does not mean that the rest of the time the puppy is not being a puppy. I don't know about anyone elses training, but training time=play time for my dogs and part of the reason my dogs know so many tricks at a young age is that when you take the time to spend a few minute sessions every day, you quickly need to pick new things to teach!


Well-Known Member
i don't have a problem with that. she wasn't being mean to the pup, she wasn't forcing it into anything - she was being gently encouraging and luring the puppy around. the puppy is still being introduced to his environment, but it's in a calm, controlled way, not by being tumbled and jostled around by mom and siblings all in a little box.

puppies - like babies - are ALWAYS learning. the mother doesn't give them a "grace" period before she starts training and disciplining them - it starts from day one. we might not view her nudging and nuzzling and bumping them around as discipline/training because that's how we express affection to our babies but dogs are not humans. i think, too, that this is teaching the puppies from the very beginning that humans are a source of food, comfort, protection, and fun.

i ran an experiment on litters of kittens: some litters, i followed that tired old maxim "leave them alone until they come out on their own"/"don't bug the mother when she's with her babies" . some litters, i had those kittens in my hands and up to my face from the moment they were born.

the ones that were left alone were definitely and absolutely NOT as nice as the ones who were mauled and manhandled and kissed a dozen times a day from birth. they were standoffish, aloof, and basically "cat" like. the ones who were subjected to a lot of human contact not only had affectionate and very unique and pleasing personalities, but were demonstrably more intelligent than the ones who were left "as nature intended". they had no qualms about humans and would greet new ppl with interest, rather than flitting off to hide under the couch.

if all puppies were raised like this, i believe the rate of dumping for behaviour problems would plummet.


Well-Known Member
There's no problem with beginning training as early as possible. It can instill a good and eager work ethic as well as the association of "I love my human and good things come when we work well together."

Not to say older dogs aren't like that, but 1. puppies tend to learn at a faster rate 2. it's setting the dog up for success in understanding what will be asked of it and feeling good about what's being asked of it. Like with human children, you don't wait until they're ten to each them to start picking up their toys and not hit people, you teach them when they're very young.

It makes tons of sense in service dogs, and just so you know, the rule of thumb for being fully trained is a sense of maturity in a dog. Most eager to learn dogs (like the ones started as soon as their eyes open) could easily have all the tasks done around 7 months. It isn't until 2 years (the commonly agreed upon age in the service dog world) that their personalities and maturity are seen as being locked in place.


Well-Known Member
I was leery of training too early at first but now I'm all for it. I've had Siren a week now and I've been working with her for no more than 10 minutes a day on tricks and she's currently up to 17 tricks and behaviours on command. It's a great bonding experience. I can't take too much credit though--her breeder does a lot of basic training and desensitizing with her puppies before they leave. She came crate trained, litter trained, and sleep trained (she goes to sleep as soon as the light turns off and won't bug you trying to play).

The difference between her and Thor is astounding. Thor came with no training - he was raised in a horse barn so he was only desensitized to horses and he had no socialization with any other animals or people besides his breeder.


Well-Known Member
When I got Levi he was 6 weeks old and I was told by a "trainer" not to do much of anything except socializing, potty training, discouraging whining and some simple things like that. He said I couldn't bring him to class till he was 4 months old. Because he was the first puppy I ever had (I had always adopted adult dogs) I followed what the guy said and by 4 months Levi was so unruly. It took a long time to teach Levi the basics.
I'll definitely be doing things different with Odie. We do the name game, come, sit and most importantly... sit quietly if you want my attention. We are also working on a handout my new trainer gave me called "the puppy's rule of twelve"
it's basically a list of things to expose odie to by the time he is 12 weeks old, such as different noises, people, surfaces, handling, locations, containers etc.
The only thing I am concerned about is taking him too many places because he has only had one set of shots so far.
I was thinking about working on balancing on his hunches cuz he seems to do that a lot on his own now. It would be great to teach him to do that on cue before he stops doing it.


Honored Member
You're going to have the dog for at least 10+ years, I see no need to rush trick training! I feel the same way about disc training and agility jump work. Everyone wants amazing puppies and are teaching them tricks and doing agility when they shouldn't be. Let the puppy be a puppy doe crying out loud! It's great to have a well behaved dog and for him to know a few tricks, but your baby dog doesn't need to know 100 tricks when he's a few months old.

I've seen so many puppies doing tricks they shouldn't be doing and agility, it's really hard for me to watch.


Well-Known Member
There are some basic steps which a pup needs to learn in the early weeks and the other training may go when he becomes 8 to 10 weeks older and hence I am satisfied with your post and think that we should let our puppies be puppies.