It is never too soon or too late to train your puppy or dog. It is vitally important to make the first 20 weeks of your puppy's life, as much of a positive learning and socializing experience as possible.
With a bit of luck, between early encouraging experiences with a responsible breeder and your puppy's mom, he or she has developed a confident sense of self by the time you bring them home. Remember, your puppy cannot read your house rules book. It's up to you, to continue to stimulate, teach, reinforce and when need be, correct your puppy in a simple, helpful manner. You must make a genuine commitment to remain patient and be consistent.
Here is how having a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog happens. During their first 8 weeks, mom and litter mates taught your pup "puppy manners." Mom's discipline may have included a few physical tactics, but for the most part it was her attention and approval that were her greatest training tools. Their litter mates were also teachers. If a puppy played too rough, their siblings ignored them. There is no greater "punishment" for a puppy or dog than being ignored. They hate it!
By incorporating their mom's attention and approval method and their litter mate's snub, you have the foundation you will need to continue training your puppy in a manner that reinforces and rewards positive behaviors, without having to punish them.
Ideally, the breeder started your puppy on a program to socialize them to new experiences in a non- threatening, fun way. Being introduced to new people, noises, other animals, objects and being handled are crucial and should be continued.
Now that your puppy is in their new home, the rest of their training and development is your responsibility. There is nothing wrong with buying books or videos on training your new pup, but the actual hands on experience of Puppy Kindergarten is worth every minute and penny. It is there your puppy will learn to interact not only with you and your family, they will also learn to be comfortable around strangers, distractions and other dogs.
Find a local dog trainer who applies positive reinforcement, punishment-free methods of training. With a bit of effort on your part, you will be amazed at the progress you will see in just a few weeks. Appropriate behaviors and obedience will be ingrained through exciting and fun experiences. Your puppy won't realize it's on its way to being a well-behaved dog.
Incorporate training into their daily routine. Apply the exercises from the classes when feeding, leashing, walking or calling your pup. For very young puppies, three minutes of actual training is about all they can handle at one time. Play school for three minutes, at least three times per day. If everyone in the family shares that responsibility, your puppy will be getting plenty of training. Be consistent. Everyone must follow the same procedures to avoid confusing the pup.
Expose them to new experiences and places. Do not coddle them! If they appear nervous or unsure, ignore it. Relax. They will be reading you for cues. If they sense you are nervous or if you are over protective, you will create an anxious, ill-mannered dog with neurotic behaviors. If you are relaxed, your puppy learns how to cope with unfamiliar situations. Coping skills and obedience are what they need to become a well-balanced and self-confident dog.
Bottom line: Don't wait. Enroll in a Puppy Kindergarten class. Work with your puppy as soon and as much as possible. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Be patient! Always end with them wanting more. It's not always easy. The more time you spend with them now, the faster they will bond with you as they learn how to cope with changes and learn what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
Before you know it, it will become a normal behavior. Enjoy every minute of it. It won't be long before your puppy is an adult dog you will be proud to take anywhere.