Training timeline for puppies

Puppies’ first life lessons start while they’re still at the breeder, with their mom and siblings, learning and observing all the time. When you fetch your puppy and arrive home, this learning process continues. He has to learn so much in the first few weeks. It is up to you, his pet parent, to ensure that his experiences are positive ones, and to carry on stimulating his mind with mental activities throughout his life.

Remember, behaviourists should not only be consulted when there is a problem with your dog’s behaviour, but whenever you are not sure how to handle a situation. Build a relationship with a behaviourist and stay in touch with that person – they can give you advice on raising a dog who is confident and know how to behave in most situations.

4 weeks – Socialisation commences

At this stage the puppy learns crucial lessons about acceptable behaviour around other dogs, including bite inhibition, while interacting with his mom and littermates. When he comes home, it is your responsibility to continue his socialisation by exposing and introducing him to different animals, people and environments in a safe and controlled manner – remember that these should always be positive experiences for your puppy.

8-9 weeks – Collar and leash

Teach your puppy to accept a collar and leash. Keeping him on lead is not only for walks in the park, but also for when he goes to training classes or the vet. Ideally, he should be accustomed to the collar and lead by the time he starts puppy school. There, they will show you the best way to teach him to walk nicely on lead.

9 weeks – Puppy school

The training at puppy school is beneficial for both the dog and his owner. You will learn how to communicate with your puppy and how best to teach him. He will learn some basic commands, how to act in different situations, and it will build his confidence.

16 weeks – Behaviourists

Your puppy should attend puppy school before he reaches 16 weeks to ensure that he receives a good foundation. It is a good idea to carry on with some basic training after that. As your puppy grows up, if at any stage you are worried about his behaviour or unsure about anything, you can consult a behaviourist for assistance (remember to first rule out any medical causes). The person must be qualified and registered with a reputable organisation, such as the COAPE Association of Applied Pet Behaviourists and Trainers. Visit their websites for a list of accredited behaviourists.

Around 1 year – Dog sports

Depending on your dog’s breed and the type of sport, he can start participating in sport at around one year. Consult your vet to find out if your dog is ready before commencing any strenuous exercises.


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