I thought I would write a quick post from work, focused on a question that I receive a lot.
This question came from someone who bought my video on how to raise the perfect puppy, and who had questions about
Her first question: “What type of crate do you recommend—wire crate or plastic mold?”
I personally like the plastic mold, but some of this decision depends on budget and the size of the dog. If your budget is tight and you can only afford one crate, I would get one of the big wire ones and partition it off. If the budget permits, however, I do prefer the plastic mold. I think dogs feel more comfortable in something that is enclosed and sturdy, more like a den. Plus, plenty of dogs can break the wire mesh crates. When I raise a puppy, they’re in a small plastic crate for a while and then as they get older they move to a larger plastic crate.
Her next question: “What are your collar recommendations?”
I prefer a slip lead for a puppy. This is a small slip collar that allows a bit of a correction. I usually start using the e-collar around five months—not as a correction, but as a communication tool.
Next question: “Can I start housebreaking as soon as my puppy comes home? Do I need to wait until twelve weeks to start adding other concepts? ”
In answer to the first, yes! I outline the house training formula more fully in our videos, but I’ll give you the four steps here:
- Supervise the dog, keep them on a leash, and crate train when you can’t be present
- Encourage the dog to use the bathroom outside
- Correct the dog when it does use the bathroom inside
- Get the dog on a food and bathroom routine
All of this is possible at eight weeks! I always start house training at that point, and I also start teaching basic concepts. I don’t ask the dog to be good at them, and I certainly don’t expect them to hold a sit for longer than half a second or come immediately in the presence of distractions. But I start teaching things right away.
Remember that there are two stages of training: teaching and proofing. Teaching is what we start to do at eight weeks. Proofing is when we demand that the dog do something well, with distractions, and can’t be done for several more months.
Next question: “I know you have a puppy program—what additional benefits does it have that isn’t on the DVD?”
The biggest extra benefit is getting to work directly with us, the trainers! Some people learn well from DVDs, and some like to have hands-on experience.
I receive all these questions a lot, especially those to do with how early you can begin training a puppy. Start right away! Don’t expect miracles, and don’t expect your dog to be amazing—but there’s no reason not to start when your dog is young.