One of our most frequent requests as doodle breeders is “do you have any adult dogs available?” There are many people who would love a doodle but are overwhelmed by the thought of a puppy. But what if you can buy one pre-trained?
Puppies are undoubtedly adorable, but the chewing phase, the sleepless nights and the overall amount of time required to train the pup can be daunting especially if you have a busy schedule.
Because doodles are in such high demand, finding an adult doodle of your breed of choice can be quite difficult. Furthermore, many people want the benefits of a puppy – the joy of knowing the dog for his whole life and building a powerful bond from a young age. And did we mention puppies are super cute?!
Buying a Pre-Trained Puppy: What to Look For
Some breeders offer a training program for their puppies. In this article we draw mostly on our own experience with our training program at JLDD so be sure to ask your particular breeder about the nuances of their training program so you know what to expect when your pre-trained pup comes home! (Learn how to find a good puppy breeder here.)
In general most breeders send their (untrained) puppies home at 8 weeks of age (some smaller breeds may need to stay with mom an extra week or two). While breeders can and should be training their litters prior to this 8 week mark by introducing potty and crate training, extensive socialization and shaping certain behaviors, an 8 week puppy will by no means be officially trained.
Even the very best breeders and trainers would be hard-pressed to produce a fully house trained 8 week old pup! So be wary of any breeder who claims their 8 week old pups are fully trained. An 8 week old pup is just not developmentally mature enough to achieve certain training milestones. For example, most of the time their bladders are just not physically large enough to make it through the whole night.
Fortunately, puppies develop very quickly - much faster than a human baby so within a few short weeks they can make leaps and bounds with their training. By 12 weeks of age, a puppy can be potty-trained or very nearly so if following a schedule and being let out frequently.
If You Buy a Pre-Trained Puppy, What Can You Expect?
Most breeders who have a training programs will start the one-on-one intensive training of a pup at around this 8 week mark. Most programs aim to address the worst of the puppy stage and place a heavy focus on potty training and crate training since these are two of the greatest concerns facing new puppy owners.
An emphasis on socialization should also be a part of any training program for a young puppy as beginning at around 8 weeks is a very critical stage in their social development and is often referred to as the first fear period as your pup is particularly sensitive to new stimuli.
In fact, 9-12 weeks of age is often considered the “Golden Window” of puppy training when your dood is actively working on social skills and is still in a very eager-to-please mindset as they are looking to other pack members (older dogs and confident humans) for guidance at this age.
In addition to crate and potty training, most puppy training programs will also teach your pup a few basic commands and social skills including bite inhibition, not jumping up, etc. Every breeder and training program is different so be sure to ask questions to get a clear understanding of what your pup will be learning during his training.
Most training programs stop short at teaching your pup specific working tasks such as those needed by a service dog. If you are wanting more advanced training then you will want to pursue a specific service dog training program, most last 1-2 years!
The length of each puppy training program is different. At JLDD we offer three different options: a 4 week program, an 8 week program and a 12 week program. Most puppy training programs will fall within this same window.
Of course the longer the training program, the older (and more developmentally mature) your pup will be upon coming home and the more time he has had to practice his manners with a professional trainer.
Still, with any length of time spent in training, you can expect a transition period when your puppy comes home. At the end of the day, your puppy is still a puppy, albeit a pre-trained one!
This means that he should respond to commands and overall have a much easier transition into your family as compared to an 8 week old pup, but it is up to you as the owner to continue reinforcing the training he has already received.
Your puppy will still make mistakes. He or she will likely still play-nip and chew or jump at times despite working with a professional trainer. The reason is that these types of behaviors are hard-wired into the puppy brain and take more than a few weeks to fully work through.
So be prepared to still have a bit of a goofball on your hands when you receive your pre-trained pup as he/she is still very much like a human toddler developmentally. However, you will be much more likely to be able to enjoy his antics after getting full nights of sleep!
Buying a Pre-Trained Puppy Helps You Avoid the Toughest Part of Puppy Parenting
What if you are just dying to get your hands on your adorable bundle of fluff, can you just get him trained later? Yes and no. Of course you can train your puppy yourself, we have many training tips to help guide you on this endeavor, too! (See what makes a good puppy owner.)
However, if you are looking to avoid the worst of the puppy stage as far as sleepless nights and potty training, then a puppy training program offered by your breeder is your best option.
Most board and train programs will not take on a puppy under 16 weeks of age. The reason is that puppies are not considered fully vaccinated or fully immune to various canine diseases (including rabies) until this age. Veterinarians also often warn against taking your puppy to socialization classes (such as those offered by your local Petco or Petsmart) before 16 weeks as again there is risk of your puppy developing parvovirus or another serious disease before he has been fully vaccinated.
For this reason, opting to have your puppy trained by his/her breeder is often a safer choice. Most breeders work hard to maintain a safe environment for their puppies and are very selective on where they take their pups and who they allow to see them while still being strategic about their socialization!
If you wait until 16 weeks to enroll your pup in training, he/she can certainly still benefit from the professional training and hone his skills, but you will have already dealt with the worst of the puppy stage!
To further clarify, if learning specific high-level tasks or really sharpening your dog’s manners is the most valuable aspect of training for you, then hiring a professional trainer after you’ve have your doodle pup for a couple months may work best for your family.
If, however, the basics of potty training and crate training are your biggest concern when it comes to getting a pup, then you will benefit from finding a breeder who offers a training program straight out of the gate for your new family member.