A Schedule for Puppy Training by Age
Puppies, like all animals, learn from their mothers. When you bring your puppy home, however, it’s up to you to be their leader and teach them everything they need to know in order to grow up to be well-rounded adult dogs!
The ideal canine companion…
It’s the vision that we’ve all wished for as puppy owners. A puppy strolling alongside you or sitting quietly at your feet at an outdoor cafe? However, there are some things you can do to make sure your pup is on the right track with their training.
That perfect puppy will have some growing pains at first, including nipping, chewing, potty accidents, barking, and more. Your puppy is rapidly growing and developing. After a few weeks at home, your puppy should be familiar with the basics of a daily routine and be working on obedience training and learning basic commands.
So, how do you know where to start with your pup’s training? You can use our puppy training schedule as a guide to help your puppy grow, develop, and learn the good manners they need at home and in the world, no matter what age you bring your new puppy home.
1. Use your pup’s food for training!
Your puppy’s food is a fantastic resource and one of the most effective training tools you can use! Having your puppy work for their food in those early puppyhood months is a super-easy way to get and keep their attention on you, reward them for it, and establish a positive association with looking to you for direction!
We ask our students to bring their lunch to school with them, and we use that meal for their training sessions at the Puppy Academy. It’s also a part of our online training school’s foundation. In both programs, we frequently advise our puppy parents to keep a treat pouch on or near them at all times during their first weeks at home with their new puppy. (Don’t worry, you’ll be able to wean them off as they grow older.) Having access to your dog’s food can help you redirect them away from something you don’t want them to do, get them to come to you, focus them on you to build that guidance-based relationship, and reward them for their good behavior to encourage them to do it again!
Check out the Online Puppy School if you’re ready to start training your puppy!
2. Be Consistent and Patient!
It’s all too easy to get frustrated with puppy training. Puppies are still learning how to navigate the world, so they will make mistakes. Establishing communication between you and your puppy takes time, so don’t expect them to get it right away!
Maintain a consistent schedule for your puppy to help them get back on track faster. Make a daily puppy schedule that includes potty breaks, feeding and playtimes, puppy training sessions, and nap times. This will assist your puppy in learning the daily household routine, feeling secure and confident, providing structure, and encouraging good behavior.
3. Practice, practice, practice!
When it comes to puppy training, the adage “practice makes perfect” is absolutely true! To teach and practice their commands, schedule a few short training sessions each day. You may only be able to keep a puppy’s attention for 5–10 minutes at a time with young puppies, and 10-15 minutes with older puppies. This is a great time to do this because you can have your puppy work to earn his or her breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Keep your pup’s training sessions short, fun, and motivating so they look forward to doing them again and again! Additionally, once your puppy has completed the necessary vaccinations, start practicing their training routines in various locations! This will help them remember their commands and encourage them to behave in the same manner wherever you take your puppy!
Now that we’ve covered those three important topics, it’s time to create a training schedule for your puppy. We’ve laid out a basic puppy training schedule that you can use as your puppy grows, starting at two months old (8 weeks). If your puppy is older and hasn’t yet learned everything listed here, go back and fill in some of the gaps if necessary. It’s important to remember that each pup learns at a different rate, so some will require more time at certain stages, while others will be able to progress to more advanced training sooner. Follow your dog’s lead and don’t rush them if they’re not ready to move on to the next step yet!
Approximately 8–10 weeks
Many new puppy owners bring their new puppy home around this age. During this stage of your puppy’s life, they should be learning the basics like their name, good house manners, basic commands, and early socialization.
- Acclimate your puppy to a daily schedule that includes feeding and watering times, play and training times, potty breaks, and nap times.
- Start potty training your puppy as soon as you bring him home! The best way to start potty training your pup is to include a potty schedule that teaches your pup where to go and how to hold it! If you’re trying to figure out your potty training schedule, divide your puppy’s age in months by half to get an idea of how long they can go between potty breaks. Visit our potty training blog post for more information on potty training your puppy!
- One of the most valuable assets for puppy training and puppy parents is crate training! We’ve discovered how effective it is at speeding up the housebreaking process, as well as how it aids in the development of an independent puppy and reduces separation anxiety. Visit our crate training blog post for more information on crate training your puppy! Additionally, start crate threshold training by having your puppy pause calmly before barging out of the crate door. This will immediately start teaching them impulse control, setting boundaries, and establishing expectations for other door thresholds as they grow older.
- Teach basic obedience commands to your dog. At this point, you should sit down and come. These will be two of your most useful commands, which you will most likely use every day for the rest of your dog’s life. It’s best if you introduce these commands at mealtime. Begin by holding some of your puppy’s food in your hand, allowing them to smell it, and then taking backward steps away from them while saying “Come” and extending your hand to entice them towards you. Reward them with a “Good!” and some food when they come to you. After that, you can teach them to sit by arching your hand up over their nose and past the top of their heads while saying “Sit,” and when their butt hits the ground, say “Good!” and hand them the food again! When your puppy follows you to the food and water bowls, say the word “Come.” This simple “Come” and “Sit” exercise with the food lure is one of our favorites, and it’s a great relationship-building exercise to do on a daily basis! “
- Begin by socializing with your immediate family and close friends. Your dog will meet new people throughout his life, so getting them used to it early on will help them positively associate those interactions.
- Name recognition is crucial, and it’ll be the one skill you’ll use for the rest of your dog’s life! When interacting with your pup, say their name frequently throughout the day to draw their attention to you. This is one of our favorite things to do with food! Reward them with excitement and food every time they look at you or come at you! Bring a piece of their food up to your eyes and reward them when they look at you to encourage eye contact. Do you want to teach your puppy’s name in a fun way? Play a game of names!
- Start using a chew toy to redirect chewing and mouthing behaviors as they occur! Your puppy’s nose and mouth will be used to explore the world. You’ll want to make sure they know the difference between their chew toys and your hands, feet, and shoes. For more information, see puppy chewing and puppy nipping blogs.
10-12 Weeks Old
You’ll start building on your pup’s commands, socialization, and impulse control at this point.
- Inside the house, introduce more basic obedience commands like “place,” “down,” and “heel,” while still using food rewards.
- If you haven’t already, introduce the leash and harness to your puppy at the age of 8–10 weeks. When you’re out and about with your dog, these will be the two most important tools in his or her life. Allow your puppy to become accustomed to their harness and leash by allowing them to wear them around the house while you supervise. Visit our leash training blog for tips on teaching your puppy to love their leash and harness.
- After vaccinations, continue socialization by introducing new people and allowing your puppy to meet calm dogs. A safe way to do this is to put your pup in a playpen with another pup so they can observe and interact with each other while being separated by a barrier. Additionally, start recordings from YouTube videos to get them used to common noises they will hear in everyday situations such as construction, traffic, garbage trucks, and so on.
- Have your puppy wait for their food and water bowls to practice pulse control. Before placing their bowls on the table, ask them to sit down. Once they’ve calmed down, set their bowls down and say something like “Break” or “Okay” to get them to leave!
- Begin threshold training by asking your puppy to sit in doorways, open doors, crosswalks, and other places, then calmly walk through them. This will keep your puppy from lunging and pulling every time they see an open doorway to another room, a.k.a. a new adventure to investigate, and it will make your walks more peaceful.
3–4 months old
Your puppy is quickly maturing, and you can start to work on more complex training routines using the commands they’ve learned!
- Teach your puppy the commands Stay and Leave-It!
- Begin combining command sequences and working indoors. Try to get your puppy to practice holding commands for longer periods of time, such as a long sit and stay, and also try to link some commands together! Here’s an interesting mix to try: Sit > Down > Stay > Come > Place. You can work with different combinations to keep your puppy occupied!
- Practice heels outside in your driveway or on the sidewalk in front of your house to help them adjust to the distractions of the outside world! If their regular food isn’t keeping them focused, you might need a higher-value treat!
- After your puppy has received all of its vaccinations, begin socializing with other new puppies! It’s important to remember that it’s not the number of interactions that matters, but the quality of those interactions! Make sure you’re matching your dog’s personality with others who will be a good fit for them. Don’t force your pup to interact with other dogs or people he or she doesn’t want to interact with and don’t let them “work it out” among themselves. While they’re learning, keep an eye on your pup’s play and intervene when necessary.
- If you haven’t already, introduce structured fetch and tug play sessions, which will also help them improve their Drop-it, Come, and Stay commands!
4-6 months of age
Your puppy should start practicing its commands outside of your home and in public places at this point, as well as continue to socialize!
- Practice their commands in the front or backyard of your home to improve their command. Bring your puppy to a new location, such as a park, to practice commands and command combinations. Start adding distance, duration, and distractions to your dog’s command work as they get better at it!
- Take your puppy for longer walks, starting at the end of the block and working your way down the block. Work on leash training and the heel command with your puppy!
- At this point in their training, start weaning your puppy off of food rewards by asking for several commands first before giving a food reward, or using praise or affection instead when they respond with the correct behavior!
FROM SIX MONTHS TO ONE YEAR
People who own puppies should make sure that they know all of the basic commands and have a strong foundation in potty and socialization skills. You’ll continue to work with your puppy from here on out to reinforce what they’ve already learned!
- Reinforce all of your puppy’s commands, and start increasing the 3Ds! As you practice your commands, increase the distance between you and your pup, have them hold commands for longer periods of time, and add more distractions for them to work through! To practice these safely outdoors, we recommend using a long line and don’t forget to include recall to practice your pup coming to you from a long distance. Bring your dog to places where there are a lot of people and distractions so they can work through them and improve their skills!
- At home, keep your structure! If left to its own devices, your puppy is in an adolescent phase and can act out. It’s not uncommon for puppies to begin chewing, nipping, having accidents, or engaging in other undesirable behaviors when their training and structure at home begin to deteriorate! During this time, it’s not uncommon to see a temporary regression in your dog’s training. To help your pup get over the hump faster, stick to your schedule and daily training sessions.
Live online puppy training has made puppy training easier!
Check out the online puppy school if you need more training help and a set plan to follow for your puppy at home.
In general, socialization should progress every week and month: meeting new people, other puppies, experiences, noises, and so on. Continue to start their potty schedule, gradually increasing the time between potty breaks as your puppy grows and is able to hold it longer. Basic obedience training, reinforcing good manners in the home and training, and maintaining structure will take up the first year of your puppy’s life. If you do this on a regular basis, your puppy will retain his or her training and good behavior for the rest of its life. Even if your puppy began at a later age, you can work on catching up with them so that they are well-behaved by the time they turn one year old!