Puppy Prodigies

I am blown away. I have just come from visiting a web site that showed videos of very young puppies being trained. You’re probably thinking “young” means four months old, maybe even three. But nooo! These puppies started their training at the age of 20 days. For those of you just waking up and not wanting to do the math, that’s just under three weeks! As you might imagine, there was lots of luring involved. But the pups demonstrated enough motor skills and mental prowess to learn the skills, and those early-learned behaviors were built upon consistently; by the ripe old age of six-and-a-half to seven weeks, the puppies were doing tricks like “shake” and “spin,” manipulating a light switch on cue, and opening a door by pulling on an attached rope tug. Don’t believe it? See it for yourself at the Puppy Prodigies web site. http://www.puppyprodigies.com/VideoClips.htm

The organization behind the web site trains assistance dogs. That explains why behaviors such as turning off light switches and tugging—for example, on a person’s jacket zipper—would be important for those pups as adults. While those behaviors are not ones I normally teach my pet dog owner clientele, it would probably surprise many of them to learn that puppies of that age are capable of learning such things. In fact, a large segment of the population still subscribes to that old myth about dogs not being trainable until they are six months of age. That one started back in the day when training classes were mostly choke chain based, and no one wanted to damage a young puppy’s neck. But even nowadays, many classes will not accept pups under four months because of vaccination issues. Why wait, when training can still be started at home much earlier than most people think?

Trainers often receive calls from pet owners when their pups are three or four months old, usually to solve puppy-related issues such as potty training and nipping. Many owners are surprised to hear that they can start training basic obedience and manners at such a young age. I’m glad the Puppy Prodigy site exists, because now trainers have a place to send people in order to see just how much very young pups can learn. Imagine if we all started training puppies on basic manners and obedience at such a young age. What better-behaved dogs we would have if the word got out!

Note: At the time of the original writing of this entry, the web site mentioned had many more videos to view. But stay tuned, as they will be on the site again. Worth the wait!

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