Should an Easily Scared Puppy Go to Obedience Training?

It's quite easy to accidentally scare a baby. All it takes is a loud noise or something capable of startling them, and hey presto—you've got a scared baby. A puppy is a different species of baby, but it's a baby nonetheless. The general recommendation is that you should begin to train your new puppy when they reach seven or eight weeks of age. But is it smart to take an easily scared dog to puppy school? Shouldn't you wait until your dog grows up a bit?

Not Doing Your Puppy Any Favours

Although you might think you're doing a scared puppy a favour by delaying their obedience training until they've grown up (and have grown out of their fears), you might in fact be having the opposite effect. By delaying the structure of training, along with avoiding the opportunity to socialise with other dogs and be introduced to other humans, your intended kindness might actually lead to certain behavioural issues when your dog reaches adulthood.

Why Your Puppy Is Afraid

It helps to get the root of your puppy's fears. A puppy can be easily startled by the unfamiliar, and mostly everything is unfamiliar to a creature who has only been alive for seven weeks or so. Your puppy's range of experiences will increase, making the unfamiliar become familiar, and as such, less likely to startle them. Your puppy might also be experiencing separation anxiety, which you should take steps to overcome. Some puppies may have also had a rough start in life, leading to emotional trauma. This should subside as your puppy bonds with you and comes to realise that affection, stimulation, food and shelter will be their new reality.

At Puppy School

Puppy school can in fact help your puppy to get over their fears. It's not as though you should throw your puppy into the deep end (and hope they can doggy paddle), and you'll need to find a suitable class.  It would be helpful if any training program can place your puppy in a class with minimal other participants, permitting socialisation without overwhelming your puppy. 

At Home

The lessons taught during class must also be repeated at home. This reinforcement helps your puppy from an obedience standpoint, and the routine of training helps to create a structure in your puppy's daily life, which can help to build confidence. Try to train your puppy at the same time each day in order to create a distinctive routine.

Although considerations must be made for their fears, it's in your puppy's best interests to start training without delay.