Almost weekly I receive an email from a proud new owner of a brand new puppy. It could be a Border Collie, an Australian Shepherd, a sheltie, or any number of herding breeds. Yes, it could even be a mutt! I started with a shepherd-mix after all…
And guess what? The majority of these enthusiastic new parents are asking the same question. When can they start training their youngster?
Just last week I received an email from someone new to herding who had begun training her twelve week old puppy with an unnamed instructor. She was concerned about the amount of pressure being placed on her young dog. And rightfully so! God help us, twelve weeks?! The puppy’s body isn’t even fully coordinated, not to mention the synapses in it’s brain!
Not to judge, we’ve all been there… We’ve gotten a new pup, we’re excited about their prospects. We can’t wait to get started! But we must.
We wouldn’t expect our two-year old child to start college, get a degree in finance and begin work on Wall Street, would we?
No that’s all too complex, especially for a toddler. There’s not even a question.
It’s not all that different to ask a young pup to traverse the slippery slopes of working livestock. Puppy brains are not yet fully developed — they need time to mature, both physically and psychologically.
Yes, the pup may be drawn to sheep, yes, it may be enthusiastic but, believe me, the young dog is in no way ready for what lies ahead.