Your Puppy's First Year: Training By the Numbers

Puppy on leash

The best way to ensure that your puppy develops into a well-balanced adult dog is by teaching him some basic behaviors when he's young. But how do you know where to start and when to introduce a new behavior or command? When it comes to puppy training, it can be easy to get confused and overwhelmed.

Fortunately, Vetstreet is here to help. We've compiled a guide to the essential behaviors you need to teach during your puppy's first year, in chronological order. All of these behaviors can be taught during the main socialization period of 8 to 12 weeks when your puppy first comes home. But with the limited focus of a new puppy and the limited time of a new puppy parent, it’s helpful to focus on the essentials first and gradually add in new behaviors as your puppy grows.

8 to 12 Weeks

Teach him to be social. The most crucial element for ensuring a well-adjusted dog is to properly socialize your puppy during these early weeks. During this time, your puppy learns confidence and resiliency through exposure to new sights, sounds and sensations and through his interactions with the outside world. Introduce your puppy to new people and experiences during this time, but hold off on introductions to other dogs until your puppy has had the proper vaccinations and time to build up his immune system. Your veterinarian is the best person to tell you when your puppy is ready for social interactions with other dogs.

Teach him to like being touched. The more each part of your puppy's body is handled, especially sensitive areas like the ears, mouth and paws, the more comfortable he will become with being touched. It’s also important to practice handling and holding your dog so that he will learn to tolerate being lifted and restrained. This will make visits to the veterinarian and groomer easier for everyone, and your dog will be more likely to cooperate for nail trims, toothbrushing and ear cleanings.


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