It’s Never Too Early….and Never Too Late


Willow, a pooped pup after her first Puppy Class

Personally, I can’t think of many things more fun than working with and training a dog, especially my own dog.   Nothing like adding a new puppy to your family to bring home the fact that training certainly needs to happen in order for the little one to adjust to your home.  My girl, Willow, is now a year old and while I wouldn’t trade a million dollars for her puppy days, I’m glad the constant supervision and foundation training has been covered.  Here’s a video clip of our very first clicker training session together.  Willow had been in our home less than 24 hours and was 9.5 weeks old.  Puppies are like sponges, they soak up learning in the blink of an eye.  Only a few days later she was learning to wait patiently at the door.  However, training is not something you do once and stop, for anything your dog learns, if forgotten about and never practiced or reinforced, will slowly fade away. I’m having a blast working with her toward competing in a variety of canine sports.  The more you work with your dog, they quicker they learn and every new thing you teach them happens faster.  And every moment we’re with our dogs, learning is happening whether you’re actively training or not.

How many times have you said, “I really need to get my dog some training” and then never acted upon it?  I think many people still have the misconception that training is difficult and boring.  Gone are the days of the grimly condescending trainer who is a taskmaster.  Today’s modern trainer is one who listens to you, understands your goals for your dog and helps you get there by not only teaching you in class, but also transferring to you an understanding of how to solve problem behaviors once you’re outside of the classroom.  And most of all, training should be FUN for both you and your dog!

Did you know that English is a second language to a dog?  Oh wouldn’t it be nice if they came with an English software package.  I imagine our dogs thinking the silly human world they enter into is quite a weird, alien world.  Certainly they wonder why they’re yelled at in a language they don’t understand when they offer their typical, species behaviors, such as digging, biting, barking, jumping and chewing.  They need all those behaviors to life safely in their own dog-dog world.  A training class can help you learn techniques to gently persuade your dog that it’s in his/her best interest to listen and work with you.  You can enjoy a variety of training videos on our YouTube Channel and take your pick of polite greeting practice, wait at the door, platform training, recall practice, as well as other fun dog-related videos.  Oh, and there’s even a cat clicker training video too.

An early start with training and socialization is credited with being the single common factor that is most likely to keep your dog in your home for its entire life, rather than joining the millions of homeless animals who end up in shelters every year.  It’s never to early to begin training and never too late.  Puppies can join a group class as early as 8 weeks of age, as long as they’ve had their first round of vaccinations and one deworming.  We follow the AVSAB guidelines on puppy socialization.  Enrolling your puppy in a Puppy Manners & Socialization class is a wonderful way to help them become comfortable with new people, places and things and will teach you how to properly continue the important task of socialization.  And, you’ll be set up well to help them transition into a confident, adult dog.

And guess what?  It’s never too late to train your dog!  Our clients with older dogs are always amazed at how quickly they gain their dog’s buy-in to training when a clicker and yummy reinforcers are brought into the training program.  Setting your dog up for success and helping them “get it right” so they can earn a reinforcer is what drives behavior.  Teaching your dog what TO DO vs. punishing them for not doing your bidding, is fun for both you AND your dog.  Just ask Pat Hanbery.  She first brought her 8 year old Border Collie/Spaniel mix, Sirius, to  our Basic Manners Class 2 years ago. Since that time she’d be the first to tell you he’s a changed dog!  He’s gone from totally distracted and environmentally centered, to being the poster dog for Focus.  And his non-existent Recall is now reliable.  You can see them in action in this video shot during our Reliable Recall Class.

Pat & Sirius, Basic Manners Class Graduation

So, when we’re asked, “When’s the right time to start training my dog?” we say, “It’s never too early and it’s never to late….how about NOW?”  We look forward to seeing you in a class, workshop or private training session soon.  Happy training!

Lisa Lyle Waggoner is a CPDT-KA, a Pat Miller Certified Trainer-Level 2, a dog*tec Professional Dog Walking Academy Instructor and the founder of Cold Nose College in Murphy, North Carolina.  She enjoys providing behavior consulting and training solutions to clients in the tri-state area of North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as offering educational opportunities for dog trainers and dog hobbyists throughout the U.S. or


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