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12-week-old Golden Retriever puppy

At 10-12 weeks, your pup will be active and curious about the world around them.

© Annorak Nk - Shutterstock

Training your 10-12 week old puppy: Here's what to expect

By Greta Inglis Dog Behaviourist | Animal Behaviourist

Published on the

Between the ages of 10-12 weeks your puppy is at a key stage in their development. Here we take a look at training tips and schedules to help set them up for success. 

As they approach 3 months of age, your pup will have begun to settle into home life, growing in confidence and curiosity about the world around them. This is a key window for puppy socialisation, and the right time to start exposing them to new sights, sounds, smells and surfaces. Creating positive associations between 10-12 weeks will help your four-legged friend grow into a happy and balanced adult dog. 

Puppy vaccinations at 10-12 weeks

With the key window for socialisation becoming smaller after the 16-week mark, it can be tempting to get your pup out and about as quickly as possible. While it is crucial that your canine companion experiences many positive interactions with new people and other dogs, it's important to consider their safety at all times.

Your puppy will need to be vaccinated to be protected from dangerous infectious diseases before they can go outside and interact with other dogs. The first vaccination, know as the Primary, is usually administered at 8-weeks-oldFour weeks later, your puppy will be ready for the second round, which boosts the immune system and ensures they're fully protected. You may be advised to wait a further 2 weeks before your pup is ready to take their first steps outdoors, so it's recommended to start by exposing them to new things in the safety of your home and garden. Practice handling and positive meetings with new people, to help them enjoy friendly and confident interactions in the future.

Training and sleep schedule for a 10-12 week old puppy

The training and sleep schedule you set up for your puppy can help teach them all about the routine at home. 

You'll need to integrate the following elements into your puppy's schedule:

  • House training
  • Socialisation (at home)
  • Obedience training
  • Play and enrichment
  • Learning to be alone 

It's important to bear in mind that a 12-week-old puppy will not typically be sleeping through the night or fully housetrained, so you'll need to factor this into your plan. When your pup first arrives, they may need toilet breaks as often as every 15-30 minutes. This will decrease as their bladder control strengthens.

Between 5:00 and 7:00am: Make sure your puppy has the chance to get outside to go to the toilet. Praise any toileting outdoors, and then calmly bring them back to bed. If they had an accident inside, don't scold them - this will only make the toilet training process take longer.

7am: They'll be ready for their breakfast. Feeding little and often is best for puppies, and you may want to consider a slow feeder to avoid bloating.

7:15am: Puppies should be taken outside shortly after eating. Schedule the next toilet break.

7:30am: Interactive games and training exercises are a great way to stimulate the brain and keep them entertained. 

8.15am: Your pup will need another toilet break.

8:30am: Your puppy is most likely be ready for a little nap. Settle them in a quiet area, away from distractions and noise. This is all part of helping them learn to be alone. 

10:15am: Dogs often need to relieve themselves on waking up, so take them outside for a toilet break. This is a prime time for positive reinforcement during toilet training. 

10:30am: Try to alternate training and toilet breaks.

12:00pm: Time for another nap. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is essential at this age. Young puppies need to sleep 18 to 20 hours a day!

2:30pm: Once your pup has woken up, get them straight outside for their toilet break.

3:00pm: A little more play and training.

3:30pm: Dinner time can be early, as your puppy will need regular, small meals throughout the day. 

4:00pm: A further rest period is always a good idea in the afternoon. Teaching your puppy they can be content and settled alone, and that you always return, will help set them up for success in the future. 

6:00pm: When they wake up, take them out for another toilet break.

6:15pm: Alternate socialisation exercises, training and games.

7:00pm: Time for another small dinner.

8:00pm: Time to wind down.

11:00pm: One last trip outside, and your pup will be ready for bed time.

Zigzag, the #1 puppy training app, recommends getting your pup outside for a toilet break at around 3am during the early stages. This won't last forever, but it can go a long way in helping to avoid accidents during the night. Learn more about toilet training by downloading the Zigzag app.
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Socialisation exercises for a 10-12 week old puppy

There are lots of life skills you can start teaching from a young age, from handling exercises and grooming, to basic commands. 

While it may seem complicated to socialise your puppy before they're fully vaccinated, there are actually a lot of exercises you can try from home. For example, you can get them used to new surfaces, sounds and people.

Puppy training app Zigzag offers lots of suggestions, from playing dress up to help your four-legged friend get used to new clothing, to meeting friends and the local pet store. You can take your 12-week-old puppy driving to get them used to the motion of a car, and create fun interactive games for them to play in the gardenAll positive associations at this age will help them grow into a balanced adult dog, just be sure to take it at their pace and avoid overwhelming them with too much in short periods of time. 

What commands should my 10-12 week old puppy know?

Start with key commands, such as a sit and a strong recall. At this age, your pup can also start getting used to wearing a collar and a lead.

For a little training help, it may be worth checking out a training app to guide you as you go. Zigzag offers tailored lessons specific to the breed and age of your dog, supporting the training process every step of the way.

How often should I train my 10-12 week old puppy?

When it comes to training your puppy, little and often is the name of the game. Learning about life in a home can be exhausting, so stick to no more than 5 minutes per daily training session. This will ensure your pup has lots of time to rest in between. If they don't seem interested in the training you're doing, end the session and pick it up another time.

Offering plenty of praise and positive reinforcement will go a long way. It's always worth taking the time to reward desired behaviours, such as paws on the floor or a nice calm settle. 

Why is my 10-12 week old puppy biting?

The teething process in puppies is fairly quick, with baby teeth appearing as early as 2-4 weeks of age. By 6 weeks, they will most likely have their full set of 28 teeth, and by 12 weeks you may start to find tiny pearly whites around your home. This is a perfectly natural process, as alarming as it may first seem: Your puppy is simply losing them to leave space for stronger adult teeth to emerge in their place.  

Natural as it may be, the teething process can be painful, and your puppy may seek relief by chewing household objects and biting. Investing in some high quality chew toys will help offer an alternative outlet for this behaviour. 

If you feel you need some support in raising your puppy, puppy training classes or training apps can help you along the way. Zigzag offers personalised support and expert help 24/7, and it's completely free to download. With consistency, repetition, lots of praise and reward, your pup will grow into a wonderful companion. 
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