The following is an overview of the basic steps involved in training your puppy. These are guidelines to help you take the appropriate training steps at the appropriate times.
During the first 12 months of a puppy's life you must provide your puppy with a good safe home, nourishing food, much love and consideration. It is during this first 12 months that the puppy is being conditioned to be a useful and enjoyable part of your family household. It is important that the puppy not experience unpleasant incidents. These can be startling events that could cause fear in the puppy that may last for the rest of his life. There are too many things in our daily lives that we take for granted but could be startle a puppy to list here. Just think before doing something that could scare your puppy. Let the puppy get used to them as they mature.
From 3-4 weeks. Training begins for the puppy. It is at this time the puppy is starting to walk, respond to noises, eats solid food, and wag his tail. He begins to play with his litter mates and explore his world. It is very important that during this period (more so than at any other time in his life) that you not allow any emotional upsets to happen. These emotional upsets could include sudden noises, being introduced to unfamiliar things or being left alone. Any of these emotional upsets can have a harmful effect on the puppy for years to come.
From 4-7 weeks. The puppy will begin to wander further away from its mother. The puppy starts to play with toys and respond to voice. At the end of this period is when weaning begins. Around the 8 week period, strangers can be introduced into his world and handling by others. A puppy should never leave his mother before six weeks of age, 8 weeks is the ideal time.
From 8-12 weeks. Actual training can begin. During this period the puppy is most receptive to learn simple commands like "come", site", "heel." The puppy will learn these commands naturally, but should not be forced to do them, or scolded or yelled at he doesn't understand. Make these brief training periods enjoyable for the puppy.
If you do catch your puppy trying to chew or bite on something they shouldn't be chewing, remove the item and firmly say ‘No!” Never shout or smack your dog for doing this, as you will simply frighten him and make him distrustful. Removing the source of his chewing and being firm but calm should be enough.
When a new puppy is first introduced into a new home, restrict his movement and introduce the new surroundings gradually, over a period of days and weeks. Don't give him the full run of the house. Take him out for short daily walks on a light lead (leash). Each day introduce him to a new part of the house, but never let him run free. Confinement is critical to the training process. A crate is ideal for these confinement periods. Make sure the puppy has adequate bedding to be comfortable as well as a place for urination and defecation inside the crate.
From 12 - 16 weeks. Puppies begin to assess to their leadership role of the pack (you and your family). You being the alpha leader must resist this attempt at domination by your puppy. If you falter at this stage of the training, you're more likely to have problems that will persist well into adulthood for the dog. Now comes a time when a more serious type of training must be introduced so the puppy will learn that you are indeed the alpha leader and they will submit. If the puppy steps out of line, he will receive corrective actions, but will also receive sincere praise when he pleases the alpha leader.
From the 4th - 7th months. Take the puppy even further on your daily walks (but don't overdo) so you both encounter more people, places, other animals and all the other things that happen on the street. If you don't do this, you'll be creating a dog that is fearful of the outside world and will be more likely to bark at everything that goes on outside. Failing to do this type of training at this time will make it almost impossible to correct later. This conditioning should continue throughout his life. These daily outings prevent boredom and frustration of your pet.
From the 7th - 9th months. This is a critical time period that is different for the sexes.
Males: they will naturally try to assert their dominance in the family. He may develop a protective attitude and show aggression. You must be firm when this happens, otherwise you'll have a lot of trouble later as the puppy will grow up thinking they have rule over you.
Females: they go through a difficult time as she comes into season for the first time. Make sure that she is not subjected to any form of stress or anxiety during this time, otherwise it could affect her temperament.
From 9th - 12 months. Both sexes continue adjusting to their new bodies and environments as they perceive them as they grow into full adulthood. You can expect to see fluctuations in their temperament, training ability and working performance. Upon reaching adulthood, all dogs will gradually go into the age of maturity. This is when dogs become settled in temperament and can absorb more advanced forms of training.
Times of these critical periods are only approximate and will vary from dog to dog.
Read more: Leash training for puppies
Read more: Adult dog training