It is much easier to train a dog, and your chances of success are much greater, if you get off to a good start. Ideally, this means starting when you bring your puppy home, at between 7 and 12 weeks of age. If you have a puppy between those ages, this chapter is for you.
Many of you reading this book probably already have a dog older than 12 weeks. Unfortunately, some people don't seek training information until after they have gotten off to a bad start and are having trouble with their dog. Even if your dog is older than 12 weeks, you should read this chapter. You can compare the positive training method with how your dog was handled in his first 12 weeks, or if you don't know, how you guess he was handled, and that will help you understand your dog now. You'll be more patient when training your older dog if you understand that he lacked the advantages of being trained at an early age.
Whether you are starting with a puppy or with an older dog you've just adopted, or are trying to build a new relationship with a dog you've had for a while, you will begin by teaching commands in the way described under "Teaching Commands: Sit, Stay, Okay, and No." No matter what your dog's age, he needs to have his confidence built up through socialization; this process is discussed in "Building Confidence." The first section is about choosing a dog. Discovering the mistakes you made in choosing your dog may help prevent you from blaming him for not being what you expected. You will be better prepared next time you get a dog. You could even pass this information along to a friend who is getting a dog!
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