An Investigation Into the Impact of Pre-Adolescent Training on Canine Behavior

Scientific Journal Articles

Current thinking about puppy training is that it should be performed as early in a dog’s life as possible to prevent the later development of behavior problems. However, no study has been performed to see if early puppy training (before 3 months of age) does present clear advantages over training at a later age, in terms of the subsequent development of adult behavior problems. This retrospective study examined the age at which adult dogs were trained as puppies and whether there were advantages of training puppies before 4 months of age or between 5 and 6 months of age. We found no difference in the age of puppy training and the subsequent development of behavior problems. Aggression, compulsive behavior, destructive behavior, and excessive barking were all reduced in dogs that had attended puppy training before 6 months of age compared to a control group of dogs that had not attended puppy training classes. Ancillary findings about the entire study population were that dogs acquired as pups at 12 weeks of age or less had reduced odds of exhibiting fear or anxiety and engaging in destructive behavior. In addition, male dogs were found to have reduced odds of developing aggressive behavior, compulsive behavior, and mounting/humping and increased odds of rolling in repulsive materials. Neutered dogs of either sex were found to have increased odds of developing fear and anxiety, increased odds of escaping/running away, exhibiting coprophagia, and rolling in repulsive materials. The odds of problematic jumping decreased with age.

Dinwoodie, I.R., Zottola, V., and Dodman, N.H. (2021). An investigation into the impact of pre-adolescent training on canine behavior. Animals, 11, 1298,

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Topic(s): Behavior, Breeder Resource, Dog to People - Skill Building, Social Interactions