You are training your puppy from the moment you meet him, whether you realize it or not. In every interaction you have with your dog, you are communicating to him how you want him to behave. Your puppy's age, however, does factor into what you should expect from him.
House training can begin as soon as your puppy is old enough to walk. Your puppy already has instincts telling him not to eliminate in his "den," the area where he eats and sleeps. Crate training works well for many guardians and their puppies because the puppy is in a confined area he considers his den. Puppies aren't physically developed enough to wait too long to eliminate. The general rule is to add one to your puppy's age in months to determine a reasonable number of hours to expect your puppy to go between potty breaks. This means, for example, if your puppy is 3 months old, it's reasonable to expect he can wait four hours between potty breaks.
You should begin introducing your puppy to the collar and leash as soon as you bring him home. Select a lightweight nylon collar and leash. It's best to avoid retractable leashes when training. A retractable leash can terrify a puppy who is already nervous about his first leash-walking experience. The first collar can be slipped on during mealtime, and many puppies won't even notice. Other puppies may scratch at it in the beginning. Attach the leash to the collar and let the puppy pull it around behind him. Do this a few times a day, two or three days in a row, before attempting to go for a walk.
Behavioral training involves teaching your dog what you do and don't want him to do as a member of your family. For example, you probably don't want your puppy to jump on people when they come in the front door. This means teaching your puppy that this behavior in unacceptable from the beginning and never letting him get by with it even one time. If the puppy jumps on you when you come in, you should ignore him and only greet him once he has all four paws on the ground. He will soon realize that in order to get what he wants (your attention), he can't jump on you. Of course, in his excitement at seeing you, your young puppy may forget what he's learned. Behavioral lessons often have to be repeated every day. The eventual reward is a well-behaved adult dog.
Obedience training begins with teaching basic commands such as "sit" and "stay." You can begin teaching your puppy these basics when he is a few weeks old. For very young puppies, training sessions much be kept short, usually less than a minute. For formal obedience training, your puppy will likely be 4 months or older before you can begin classes. Most schools require puppies to complete their entire vaccination series before enrolling. The vaccination series generally isn't complete until a puppy is 4 months old.
Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.