The puppy’s brain is now able to learn as well as an adult (even though it still has the physical limitations of being in a puppy body).

An important developmental window closes at about 16 weeks of age. Early experiences help shape a puppy’s world view.

For a puppy who has had a smooth start

  • Complete the Checklist from First 24 hours together
  • Introduce puppy to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, objects, surfaces, people, dogs, other animals, experiences, situations using positive association
  • Begin a puppy kindergarten class or a similar process of careful exposures
  • Help puppy learn to expect the unexpected
  • Begin clicker training (or continue if started by earlier handlers)
  • List important behaviors for your situation and start them first
  • Teach some fun tricks to keep skills sharp and interest high

For a puppy who has had a rough start

  • Complete the Checklist from First 24 hours together
  • Introduce puppy to a wide variety of sights, sounds, smells, objects, surfaces, people, dogs, other animals, experiences, situations using positive association
  • Begin a puppy kindergarten class or a similar process of careful exposures
  • Help puppy learn to expect the unexpected
  • Wait for the dog to sit (or any behavior of your choice) before giving attention
  • Introduce practical handling experiences: ears, feet, gentle restraint
  • Limit the dog’s options by using a crate or pen or tether when not actively training
  • Teach the dog to love its crate or pen and dash inside when cued
  • Teach the dog anticipatory cues that mean they are about to be picked up or have the leash put on
  • Teach the dog to play interactively with people: tug, fetch
  • Begin clicker training (or continue if started by earlier handlers)
  • List important behaviors for your situation and start them first
  • Teach some fun tricks to keep skills sharp and interest high