Few things in life are as fun or as exciting as getting a new puppy.
These adorable furry little creatures quickly become fuzzy little family members, and it’s impossible to think of what our lives would be like without them almost straight away.
At the same time, though, without a bit of discipline – not just with the puppy, but with the owner when it comes time to train a dog, too – this dream can become a bit of a nightmare in a hurry.
If you’ve been looking for information about how long does it take to train a dog, as well as some step-by-step tips to help you navigate the process, you’ve come to the right place!
Let’s dig right in.
What You Need to Know About Training Dogs
Before we really dive deeper into the step-by-step breakdown of creating effective training sessions, working with a dog trainer, and avoiding the major missteps lots of dog owner make (totally by mistake most of the time), it’s important to cover a couple of key things you’ll need to know before we begin.
- Start Simple – For starters, it’s important that you think about dog training as a set of Legos that you are working with. You build a solid base with fundamental training sessions, working to train your puppy on two or three key behaviors, and then you begin to add on different trainings from there.
- Make It Fun – It’s also important that you make this training as fun and as exciting as you can. Puppies (just like young kids) have notoriously short attention spans, and nothing is harder to train than a puppy that is bored or are interested. Find ways to make training time more like “playtime” and you’ll have a well trained animal in no time at all!
- Positive Reinforcement! – It’s also important that you fall in love with the power of positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement puppy training produces horrific results, anger, and resentment with your animal – resentment that can last a lifetime. Positive reinforcement is the only way to create a real life bond with your animal, that’s for sure.
Lastly, it’s important that you give yourself a decent amount of time to train – not just overall, but every day as well. Different dogs like german shepherd may need different amounts of time to become well trained, but almost every dog can get a baseline of discipline and training down in about six weeks.
Step By Step Breakdown for Training Dogs Faster
1. Start with House and Crate Training
The very first steps you need to take to train your dog have to do with house training and crate training.
Seriously, there’s nothing more important than house training your puppy right out of the gate.
Building these fundamentals not only instill discipline and get your older dog used to the idea of training, but these types of training sessions also help eliminate a lot of the headache and hassle that new puppies bring to dog owners and people not used to owning dogs – the mess they make when they haven’t been housetrained/house train or dog crate trained yet!
Expect these training sessions to be a bit bumpy in the early stages as you’re just feeling out how to train your dog best (and they target your heartstrings when they cry during the crate process).
But maintain discipline and keep motivation high in your come out on the other side (in a week or so) with a dog that isn’t having as many accidents in the house – and maybe no more accidents in the house at all!
2. Leash Lessons Come Next
After about a week of housebreaking sessions it’s time to start thinking about doing some leash dog training.
Even if you don’t expect to have your dogs on a leash all that much it’s not a bad idea to familiarize themselves important tools.
There’s going to be a time where you want to bring them to the dog park, introduce them to other humans, or bring them on “play dates” with other dogs – and all of that involves using a leash and collar.
Start this kind of training out by familiarizing your dog with a leash and collar in general. Don’t do that these sessions for an extended amount of time (at least not early in the process), and just kind of get them used to how the collar and leash feels.
From there, start to issue orders and try and shape their behavior not to pull on the leash and to stay by your side – with plenty of slack on the leash – and you should be on your way to cementing some real solid habits.
3. Socialization is a Big Piece of the Puzzle
Around the time you’re starting to give your puppies leash command training and experience it’s time to start socializing them with other people and other dogs.
The dog park is an easy place to accomplish this goal (and a great place to help them find a new furry best friend), but you want to make sure that you’re getting the kind of response from leash training classes before you bring them out in public.
You might want to skip the park at first and instead just do some walks around the neighborhood (especially the first time or two that they are on a leash) to make sure that everything is going smoothly.
Expand your puppies dog training horizons from there when it comes to socialization.
4. Start with Basic Commands First
The next step in training dogs is to begin introducing new command behaviors.
You’ll want to teach your dog how to sit, how to stay, how to lay down, how to fetch, and a handful of other core commands through behavior training (toilet training, obedience training, potty training) that will improve both of your lives.
Different training techniques will work to achieve these kinds of behaviors, but no matter what mantra you are using behind your training you’ll want to try and make each session as fun – and as relatively short – as possible.
The best way to “rewire” behavior with your dog and to teach them a new skill is to do a variety of different training sessions each week that last between 15 minutes and 30 minutes long (maximum).
Now, if you are training a gun dog for a service dog you might need to order little harder on different skill sets and different training techniques. But for the most part, those quick sessions a couple of times a week will do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to training your puppy.
5. “Proof” Good Behaviors to Cement Them in Place
After focusing on dog training that installs a couple of key commands and the behavior you are looking for, it’s time to “proof” that behavior and a bad habit.
The goal here is to confirm that your puppy really has learned from each training session they have gone through and have wired new behaviors altogether – behaviors that will be consistent no matter when these commands are issued.
Instead of just having your puppy run through the same training routine over and over again (in the same potty spot every time), consider trying to get them to sit on the bed, sit in the lawn, and sit during a walk.
If your puppy is responding to these commands (even commands from other people) that you have “proofed” the commands that are good to move on to another part of dog training.
At the end of the day, the amount of time it’s going to take to train your puppy is going to vary wildly – and there’s no real way to know how long does it take until you get right down into the nuts and bolts of the dog trainers work itself.
As a general rule, however, you can expect most puppy training to last about four weeks (and maybe as long as nine weeks) when you are covering the basics.
That’s usually enough time for dogs to learn good potty discipline, a handful of key skills and commands, and give you an answer about how much extra effort it’s going to take to do more advanced training, too.
And like we highlighted earlier, it’s not a bad idea to do multiple puppy practice sessions each week that last about 15 to 30 minutes at a stretch rather than try and push them through too much time working on the same skills and fundamentals.
A session of 15 minutes or five times a week will have much more of an impact on a puppy (and an adult dog you’re looking to potty train) than a session or two a week of an hour or more.
What Is the Minimum Amount of Time Per Day I Should Work with a Dog?
When it comes time to teach dogs new skills and new behaviors, more time spent learning in a single session is not necessarily as effective as less time spent across multiple trainings.
Stick to four or five 15 minute practice blocks of time each week for two months and you’ll get fantastic results, better results than you would have received doing an hour a week for 6 months!
What Training Methods Work Best for Service Dogs?
This is a great question, but a question that is best answered directly from someone that works with search and rescue dogs or other kinds of service dogs that require very specialized sessions.
These dogs have to go through much more rigorous training protocols than your everyday house pet or gun dogs ever will – and they almost always have to hand dedicated dog trainers that understand how to best implement these learning lessons quickly and permanently.
If you’re going to raise, board, or help to train service dogs you’re going to want to contact professionals in your area and get a feel for the protocols they like to use most.
How Should I Walk a Dog If I Don’t Have the Time To?
No matter what, you want to try and find the time to walk your pet dog at least once a day – even if it’s just to pop around the block for 15 or 20 minutes.
There isn’t a single one of us that doesn’t have 15 or 20 “extra” minutes in the day that we can use not only improving our own health and fitness but also exercising our dog and burning off a bit of that excess energy that they are always carrying.
Come up with any reason you need to take your new dog for a walk (dog walker), especially right before doing a bit of training, and you’ll find they have a much easier time learning anything you like them to teach, too.
When dogs are a little worn out and a little tired they are far more focused and are able to zero in on the stuff you’re trying to get them to internalize.