How Much Time Should I Spend Training My Puppy?

When you first get a puppy, the feelings and emotions you have can be overwhelming. Happiness, joy, and excitement run rampant in most households when a new puppy arrives, as you’ve no doubt seen yourself if you’ve recently adopted a new pup. 

Of course, a new puppy means more than just fun and excitement. To grow into an adult dog that meshes well with you and your family, listens to what you say, and behaves, you’ll need to train them and train them well. That way, you can rest assured that they’ll be your buddy and a good dog for many years.

The question many of my readers ask, though, isn’t about how to train or what to do as much as it is about the amount of time and effort it takes. Frankly, training a puppy is not a one-and-done type deal, but something you have to stick with for at least the 1st year of their life. That leads to a question I hear quite often; how much time should I spend training my puppy?

According to several studies, the answer is that you should spend time training your puppy for about 15 minutes a day, once or twice a day, two or three times a week. That might not seem like a lot, but studies have shown that more is actually less when training a puppy. If you train them too often or too long, your results (and their training) will typically be less successful.

Of course, all puppies are different, as are their owners. Some will need more training with shorter intervals, and others will need less with longer intervals. However, the point is that you don’t need to spend hours a day (or even one hour) training your puppy. Short and sweet training sessions seem to work the best.

Now that you know how much time you should spend training your puppy, you probably have more questions about it, like what time of day is best, how to train your pup, and more. If yes, read on. I’ve got the answers to those questions and several more below!

Puppy Training Schedule Week-By-Week

One crucial factor to keep in mind when you adopt a new pup is that you become the mom in the absence of its mother. That’s a big responsibility because it means you need to teach your pup everything their mom would usually teach them so that they grow into a well-behaved adult dog.

Before I get into the week-by-week training schedule you should follow for your pup; I have three tips for you that will make your puppy training more successful;

Reward-Based Training is Recommended

Even more than children, dogs respond better when there’s a reward involved. A puppy treat or toy works best as a motivating factor.

Patience and Consistency are Vitally Important

Puppies are like little children with one big difference; they can’t talk back. That’s good in some ways and bad in others, of course. Nevertheless, to have great results, you need to be patient with them and try to understand what they’re ‘saying’ to you. Also, your training needs to be consistent in terms of what you train, how you train, and when.

Practice Often (But not too much)

As I mentioned earlier, training regularly is essential, but you don’t want to overdo it. Puppies get bored and fidgety quickly and have the attention span of, well, a 5-year old. Practicing often, for short periods, is best.

Week-By-Week Schedule

8 Weeks to 10 Weeks

Most people adopt a new puppy when it’s 8 to 10 weeks old, the perfect time to teach them the basics.

  • Using their name. The one word that your dog should always respond to, their name, should be used very often.
  • Potty-training. This should start the day they arrive at your home. A good rule of thumb to determine how long your pup can ‘hold’ their bladder is to take their age and divide it in half. 8 (weeks) divided by 2 would be 4, so 4 hours between potty breaks.
  • Create a daily schedule. This should consist of a specific waking, feeding, playing, and training time throughout the day. Potty and nap time, too.
  • Crate training. If you plan to use a crate, which is highly recommended, now is the time to start. By the way, a crate is a great help when potty training.
  • Basic commands. Sit, stay and come are the 3 basic commands that will serve you and your puppy well for many years. Now is the time to start training them these vital commands.
  • Chew toys need to be introduced to prevent your pup from chewing everything else.
  • Socializing. Many puppy experts recommend letting everyone, within reason, pet, hug, and play with your pup. The more social they are as pups, the better and calmer they will act around all humans when they’re an adult.

10 Weeks to 12 Weeks

  • Basic obedience commands need to be practiced, including ‘heel,’ ‘down,’ and ‘fetch.’
  • You should continue socialization with humans.
  • Practicing impulse control and threshold training. This will ensure they don’t, for example, run into traffic or pull your arm off when walking.
  • Leash and harness training to get them used to being on a leash and walking with you.
  • Short practice walks near home can begin.

12 Weeks to 16 Weeks

  • You should start with combination commands. “Sit and stay,” for example, or “drop it and lie down.”
  • Socialization with vaccinated dogs and puppies can begin.
  • Practice ‘heeling’, often.

16 Weeks to 6 Months

  • More advanced, combination commands in newer locations. ‘Heeling’ and ‘staying’ at the park, for example.
  • Longer walks while working on ‘heel’ and other commands. 
  • Use fewer food rewards and more affection rewards. (Hugs instead of treats!)

6 Months to 1 Year

  • Start using the 3 D’s, distraction, distance, and duration. For example, a longer distance between you and your pup, with more distractions (other dogs, cars, etc.) and for a more extended period. Great care is needed, of course, to make sure they don’t run off or out into traffic.

How Much Training is Too Much for a Puppy?

A good rule of thumb when training a puppy is that if they lose interest and aren’t having fun, it’s time to stop, at least for that training session. The thing is, puppies have very short attention spans, much shorter than adult dogs. If you try to keep training after they’ve lost interest, both of you will get frustrated.

Studies have shown that a rewards-based training method is best. That being said, whatever method you use, you should do it in short sessions. Also, once or twice a day is usually best, as studies have found a correlation between over-training and low results.

Final Thoughts

“How much time should I spend training my puppy?” is a question I hear all the time. The answer is that, for most puppies, once or twice a day for 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week seems to be best. Of course, all puppies are different, so feel free to change this schedule slightly based on your pup and their individual needs and habits.

Did you enjoy today’s blog? If yes, please be sure to see my other puppy blogs. They’re all filled with real-world info that can be very useful when bringing up your new pup. From training to food, healthcare, puppy treats, and more, you’ll find many answers to your most-asked questions.