What’s The Best Age To Start Training Your Dog?
Years ago experts advised to wait until the dog was 6 months to a year old. Training methods have changed and are much more motivational than in the past. If you choose a trainer who uses motivational methods, 4 months of age is the optimal time to begin.
Once a dog reaches the appropriate age to begin training, you should determine what type of training would be best for you and your dog. It gets confusing here because there are several choices, including group classes, private in-home lessons and even the board and train programs that many trainers offer. Here are some points to keep in mind about each type of training:
A group class is an inexpensive way to get your dog trained and also has the advantage of socializing your dog around other dogs and people. If your dog is easily distracted the group class may not be the best option.
Private In-Home Lessons
In-Home lessons are a good option for training puppies for several reasons. First, training takes place in the home, and usually that’s where owners want the dog to behave the most. In-Home lessons allow the trainer to see the dog with his family in a home environment. This aids the trainer to not only help train but also solve behavior issues. There are no distractions so the dog and the owner get the full benefit of the lesson.
Board and Train Programs
Board and Train programs are sometimes called Doggy Boot Camp. Dogs stay with a trainer from 2-4 weeks depending on the programs provided. The trainer trains your dog on a daily basis. Your dog should be well trained when you pick him up. If the trainer/training facility does not guarantee the training, reconsider leaving your dog at that facility. The key to the success to this type of program is the follow up lessons for the owner. The trainer should teach the owner how to handle the trained dog and methods to reinforce the training to establish a stronger relationship with the dog.
There are pros and cons to each of these training methods. In-home private lessons are great if the owner will commit to training on a daily basis, but this option may be quite expensive, and will involve a time commitment for you, the owner. If you have no desire to train, then the board and train program may be the best choice. Group classes are a good option if the dog needs to be socialized, but this option does have the potential for many distractions.