Can you buy a trained puppy?
Updated: 13 hours ago
In short, yes you can buy a trained puppy. This is Pippa, a 13-week-old cocker spaniel out for a walk, off the lead and walking nicely to heel. She has undergone 4 weeks of residential training with us, living in the home with us as part of the family. She is house trained, crate trained, sits, waits for food, stays, walks on the lead, recalls off the lead, and is well socialised with other dogs, children, and everyday noises. But what should you expect when bringing a trained puppy home?
Bringing a puppy into your family is never a decision to be taken lightly. A puppy that has just come from the breeder has very similar requirements to a toddler in terms of the time and attention they need to develop into a well-mannered, well-behaved dog.
A trained puppy still requires your time and attention but is more like a toilet-trained toddler who knows where to go, and when to go, and is starting to have a good understanding of boundaries. They aren't the finished article but they have a great foundation that you can build on. They still require your time and your attention though. If they need the toilet and you fail to notice their signals then they are likely to have an accident, that's not their fault. If you do not keep up their training then they will push the boundaries and before you know it the foundation they had has been worn away, you need to keep up the work. You can read more in our blog post, "The Reality vs expectation of dog ownership"
How old can you train a puppy?
The first 16 weeks of a puppy's life are a key development stage. Their experiences, both good and bad, at this point, have an impact on the rest of their lives.
Puppy training starts at a very early age and often with the breeder. They may not realise it but they start to form the puppies' behaviours and habits through their routines and interactions. If given the opportunity and the space puppies instinctively take themselves out of their sleeping area to the toilet, they do not want to do it in their sleeping quarters. They will often, with a little encouragement and time from the breeder, start to go to the toilet in the garden by the time they are 8 weeks of age. This doesn't mean that they are toilet trained but it does mean that they are generally easier to toilet train if the breeder has already started to get them used to it and into the routine of going outside when they wake up or after they have eaten.
When we bring a puppy home for training at around 8-10 weeks of age the first thing to do is get the puppy settled and used to the new environment, people and dogs that it is around. Teaching them where the door is to get outside, watching them all the time to look for signals they may need to go out, and then giving them plenty of opportunities. At this age we expect accidents from them, they are just babies. We do not scream and shout and get upset, we pick them up, put them outside, and clean up.
Over the next few weeks and with plenty of time, patience and supervision the pups learn how to go outside and pick up the toilet training. It is an ongoing process and there are no quick fixes or miracle ways of how to house train a puppy, it is time and attention, they will get it, even though at times it may feel like they are not.
By the time puppies are 12 - 14 weeks of age, they will have a very good understanding of house training. They will be in the routine of being in their bed, a secure crate, and will settle with minimum fuss when they are left, reducing the risk of separation anxiety.
How to train a puppy.
When you bring them home you become their family. They go from being with mum and siblings to being with you.
An 8-week-old puppy is a blank canvass. They do not understand our words, they do not understand what we want them to do and they do not know how we want them to behave.
This explains many of their behaviours at this early stage. If they're crying because they're unsettled being somewhere new, if they're biting and growling when playing, just as they would with siblings, if they're totally ignoring us when we call or not doing what we ask, it is because we have not taught them any different, yet and to they play and interact with us as they would another puppy!
A puppy doesn't understand our words initially but fully understands tone of voice. I use this analogy all of the time but puppies and toddlers are very similar. If we are excited and use high pitch or tone with a toddler or a puppy then they will mirror our energy levels and get excited, which then often leads to nipping and biting. If we deepen our tone and sound as though we mean what we say then puppies react differently to a high pitch. Our words and our tone have to match.
There is no point telling a puppy off in a high pitch or excitable voice which doesn't sound like we mean what we say. A puppy will simply hear the tone and not the words and carry on or even get excited instead of stopping what they are doing.
If a puppy is doing something good we use a nice tone to let them know, we praise calmly and we reward this behaviour. If they are doing something wrong we discourage the behavior and use a firm tone so there is no confusion.
Consistency is key
The key to training is consistency. There can be no "sometimes", and there can be no grey areas. A puppy can either always do something or it is never aloud. If you want them to do certain behaviours, take jumping up, for example, encourage it when they do it. If you don't want them to then discourage it and never allow them to do it. They will quickly start to understand what is and isn't allowed.
What do I mean by encourage or discourage?
If we use the example of jumping up onto our legs to explain a little. Your puppy is excited to see you, it jumps up to greet you and immediately you stroke the puppy and say hello, often we can be excited to see them and be greeted by them too. Puppy has received attention, had a fuss and is left feeling great when they jump up. This behaviour continues and the puppy starts to get bigger and now its not so much fun. We have encouraged this behaviour and in fact, rewarded it. As much as we want them to stop and not jump up when we tell them not to, why should they stop? They get attention, they get a fuss and after all we encouraged it initially.
What we should do is ignore our puppy when we first come into the room. No high pitch excitable greeting, no fuss and stroke when they jump but simply ignore them and move forwards when they jump up. This puts them on the back foot and what you will notice is that after a minute your puppy will stop jumping and either stand or sit looking at you. It is at this point that we give them the attention they desire and the stroke they want. If we repeat the process then very quickly your puppy will stop jumping up and will sit or stand when they greet you, instead of jumping up.
Training is repetition. Once we reward an action that a puppy has done correctly and repeat the reward each time the
behaviour is done, then we start to form habits and condition the behaviours we want.
Puppy ownership is not something which should be a spur-of-the-moment decision. It needs to be thought through properly. Do you have the time to train a puppy correctly? Do you want to train your puppy? What about when you are at work or when you want to go on holiday. A puppy is a life-changing decision. If you want to find out more about how we may be able to help with finding and training a puppy for you then please visit our services page to find out more or visit our FAQ's page to see some of the questions we have been asked regarding our trained puppies.