The following question was submitted on the Pet360 Community Forums: I have a German Shepherd puppy. When should I start training my puppy? He is 6 weeks old.

Some resources and advice on when you should start training your puppy

The short answer is: right away! Puppies start learning right out of the womb (and some suspect even before then), so you can start with socialization and training right away. If possible, I would hope that the puppy could stay with mom for at least another couple weeks. Puppies should stay with the litter and mom until around 8 weeks of age to learn everything they need to in that situation. Ideally, they should be learning and being socialized by the humans of the household as well, as this is the most important developmental stage of their lives.

But as soon as they are with you, it’s really important to remember that puppies are highly impressionable at this age (especially this age), so you’ll want to be taking advantage of that and teaching them how to be lovely members of the family and expose them to all kinds of things so your pup does not develop fears or bad habits. A good, positive reinforcement program from day 1 is a fantastic place to start. I’m not talking about structured training classes, but teaching a dog that running to you is a fun and happy thing, that they can stay in one place and then come to you when they are called, to wait patiently with good manners for food, to have fun with toys (this is a big one – it makes more formal training much easier later on!)

Regardless, some good resources for how to work with a young puppy are here:

Top-notch things to teach your puppy: http://www.johnrogerson.com/puppy.html

General, excellent, training tips: http://www.pawschicago.org/jean-donaldsons-top-10-training-tips/

Videos and articles about puppies: http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/puppy

In particular:

Some excellent books, for now and later:

  1. The Puppy Primer by Patricia McConnell
  2. Family Friendly Dog Training by Patricia McConnell
  3. Train your dog like a Pro by Jean Donaldson
  4. Parenting your Dog by Trish King

Beyond the basics:

This is a good in depth article about what puppies need from the beginning, discussing what puppies lose from not having littermates. If you want a bit of extra-curricular reading, it’s a good one.

Good luck!

Originally answered on the Pet360 Community Forums

About Author

Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. She also contributes articles to leading websites, such as Victoria Stilwell's Positively . It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel, and a small business creating hand crafted dog products at Stylish Canine.

  • Great advice; it’s never too early to start. It’s really amazing to know that there’s such a short period of time where socialization is so important due to impressionability. I’m certainly not saying it’s ever too late it’s just always easier if you get your young pup off on a great start with training.

  • Great post!!! We started training Scout and Zoey the moment they got home and had the in puppy classes the moment the vet gave the go ahead. We did the same with Riley and Blue. We learned a lot from our first 2 dogs, who used to run the house before I figured out how to be a leader with our dogs.