When a new puppy arrives, or better yet, before it arrives, you may find yourself in a whirlwind of thoughts concerning the puppy, her needs, and her behaviour. Just like having a new baby on the way, one of the concerns you might have is her education and training. When is the right time to start training? There are many different schools of thought on this subject but I suggest that you start training early, the earlier the better. However, do it gently. I like to start training the day she arrives. Sure, it needs to settle in but, when you are playing and feeding, gently introduce a few rules (no jumping up, no biting, wait politely until your food bowl is on the floor, etc.).
As puppies are just like young children, the single and most important thing you can do for her is very simple; have confidence in what you are doing, be clear and focused and, know the process to get the desired results. Putting it simply, you must be sure about what you are doing.
Just like that new born baby, your puppy needs to believe in you, she needs to have confidence that you are the best person for her to learn from. Also, remember that like children, puppies are young, they are growing and they have very short attention spans. You must keep all training sessions short, fun and interesting. For a puppy that is not interested will not pay attention.
The earlier you start training her puppy the better. You should start socializing her when she is about 7-8 weeks of age, which is usually about when she arrives in your care. This includes other puppies and dogs, cats, kids, teens, adults, and any other form of socializing that you can think of (the only caveat is that you check with your vet before you take her to a new setting). The basic idea is to have her exposed to whatever situations and experiences that she will likely encounter during her life with you and your family. Just remember to keep the introductions short, friendly, controlled, and safe. The leaders of the canine behaviour field tell us that the best time for your new puppy learn all her socialization skills is between about 3-16 weeks of age. Since most of us don.t get our new puppies until they are about 8 weeks old, this only leaves us with half of that window. So make the most of it.
You will know if she is getting socialized well when she starts to interact properly with all types of people and in many situations, even those that she may not have experienced before. When she has developed appropriate socialization skills, she will show little to no fear of most objects and people, and when startled, she won't panic, be overly frightened and will likely recover quickly.
Some people start the basics of obedience when the puppy is 8-9 weeks old (as do I). This is fine for some dogs but remember, if your puppy is very young, proper obedience may take time. There are others that feel the basics of sit, down, stay and come should not be started until the puppy has reached 10-12 weeks of age.
The first few things that you should focus on, aside from the obvious house and potty training, is how to accept a treat without taking parts of your fingers with it. Those little puppy teeth are very sharp. As most people use treats in addition to praise to indicate acceptance of some behaviour, it's nice not to loose a chunk of your finger whenever you offer a treat. Carat (LittleRiver's Little Red Fox) arrived on a Sunday around lunch time. When we got home I immediately started teaching her to use her tongue when giving her treats instead of just grabing at my hand with her mouth wide open. My daughter was 2.5 years old at the time and I did not want her getting bit.
Basically, a well-socialized puppy will be comfortable in a variety of situations and environments. She may be briefly excited in a new situation, but she will not be fearful. The key is to create positive experiences as you expose her to more and more new situations and environments.
If you spend 5 - 10 minutes per day training as soon as you bring her home, it will make a huge difference in her social skills and adaptability.
Remember to have realistic goals and expectations about your new pup's capabilities. Don't expect a puppy to respond 100% reliably to the basic commands until they've reached 4-6 months of age.
Just remember, have realistic expectations for your new pup.