To The Dogs—Canine Advice Column

The Puppy Pandemic

That puppy you bought for company during the COVID-19 shutdowns didn’t benefit from socially distancing; here’s how to help him now.

By Hilton Butler

I am often asked what age is best to begin training a dog. Many people believe a dog must be at least 6 months to 1 year before training starts, but that’s not true. All dogs can benefit from obedience training, even as early as 7 weeks; behavior training should begin as soon as the puppy enters its new home. By 6 months of age, almost all behavior issues have already shown themselves. This means that early training can be used to avoid problems before they become more difficult and frustrating.

The Right Start

Bad habits are hard to correct, so owners should never allow nipping, chewing, digging, barking, mounting or other undesirable behaviors—all of which are normal actions—because if left uncorrected, they can lead to big problems down the road. Dogs learn each day what behavior will or will not be allowed. The best way to correct bad behavior is to never let it happen in the first place. A few things to remember:

Preventing problems is easier than fixing them.
Do not leave children alone with a new pup. The pup will view small children as another puppy, and they will nip, jump and begin to seek dominance on their social ladder.
Do not allow the pup to join in chasing games with children. The pup will begin to think of children as “prey” and might nip or herd them.
Remind children to leave a sleeping puppy alone. Enforce the idea that pups need their rest. Do not surprise pups or adult dogs as they sleep, as you might get an unintentional reaction.
Encourage everyone in the home, including the children, to think of the


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Fall 2021 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.


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