Most puppies aren’t ready for formal training before six months of age. But there are many things you can do to pave the way for a pup so that he’s well-prepared for the first day of

To give you a head start, here are six important areas you can be working on before your youngster reaches formal training age.

Make your puppy feel comfortable and secure in his new home.
Protect your puppy from any frightening experiences
Make retrieving a daily part of his life by throwing a ball or sock for your pup.
Leash break your pup and begin heeling by taking long walks.
Introduce you puppy to birds as soon as possible.
Introduce your puppy to water as soon as possible

For the first seven weeks of life your puppy has been living with his mother and littermates in a pack family atmosphere. Not all, but some, pups will become very insecure when
first separated from that family unit. It’s your job to make sure that the transition does not leave any psychological scars on your pup.

              Every puppy needs to become comfortable in his environment, so taking him on walks, first at home then in different areas from your home, is important. Remember, you
need to protect him from any traumatic experiences that could startle the youngster, such as lightning, thunder or loud noises.

              No matter what breed of pup you have you should play retrieve a ball/sock with him. This should first be done in a hallway or some enclosure that prevents the pup from
running off instead of coming back to you. Some uninformed trainers attempt to add other skills at this time, such as restraining the pup and releasing him when the ball has
stopped rolling; not a good idea, fellow trainers. You are trying to encourage retrieving, not discourage it, and restraining him from chasing the ball at this particular time could
have a negative effect on your pup’s desire. You should also know that at some point in the near future your puppy will stop returning with the ball. This behavior is perfectly
normal---he is not trained to come back yet and he prefers to play keep away.

              At around the four month period, you should begin to incorporate a little more discipline in your heeling work. Put on a choke chain and leash and take your trainee out for
a long walk using small jerks on the leash to prevent him from pulling you down the road. Small jerks make the dog more uncomfortable and will discourage him from pulling on
the lead. Your goal after a dozen walks is to have your pup heeling without dragging you down the road---not necessarily at the proper heel position yet.

              The earlier you introduce you trainee to birds the better. Give the little fellow a week to get accustomed to his new surroundings then throw him a small, fresh, dead bird,
such as pigeon, dove or quail---no live birds yet and I would always avoid frozen birds.

If you expect your pup to retrieve in the water, do the same as with the birds and get him started as early as possible. However, you should never force a puppy into the water by
dragging him in with a leash. Ankle-deep water is usually the best to begin. Simply walk into the water a few feet and encourage the pup to follow; treats sometimes help. If your
pup is reluctant, try picking him up and walking out about ten feet and gently putting him in the shallow water and having him follow you to the bank; once or twice is enough.

There you have it fellow trainers, this sums up the advice I give all new clients who ask what to do before formal training begins . Following these six steps will give your pup a
good solid start on becoming the hunter you want?

Training Tips