At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we do a puppy training/consultation program as early as 8-10 weeks old. However, we really do not put too much focus on “obedience” per se at that age, we focus on things that we consider more important for puppy development; such as, bonding, socialization, pack leadership, crate training, confidence building such as object desensitization and noise desensitization , and if you have a dog who interested, properly playing tug with your puppy.
In my experience, when you have a puppy who is not yet old enough to enroll him/her in a formal obedience training program, those things I listed above should be your focus! As I say all of the time, I would much rather take in a 6-month old dog who is highly confident and well socialized than I would a 6-month old dog who is skittish and low confidence but knows 25 commands. As you will see in our before and after videos on Youtube, we can take a dog who knows absolutely nothing and give them amazing obedience in a very short time. However, fixing aggression, low confidence, skittishness, etc can take much more time. So, with your puppy, focus on the fundamentals and the actual obedience portion is the easiest part.
With a puppy, everything should be fun, positive, and motivating! There should be little to no corrective based training, at all. You should always end your training sessions leaving your puppy wanting more; meaning, you should never keep pushing your puppy until they lose interest in whatever you are trying to accomplish with them, always stop when they are still wanting more. This is a simple technique we use in order to build motivation and drive with your puppy.
Once you have all the developed all of foundational-based training with your puppy that were mentioned above, it’s time to bring them into a formal obedience training program. At Off-Leash K9 Training, we do not start our dog obedience training programs in Northern Virginia until the dogs are least 5-months old.
By the age of 6-months, you are left with a well socialized, highly confident, motivated, driven, problem-free, and well-trained dog that you can enjoy for the rest of your life!