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PUBLISHED: An Investigation into the Impact of Pre-Adolescent Training on Canine Behavior

Updated: May 3, 2021

May 2, 2021 – The Center for Canine Behavior Studies, Inc. is proud to announce that the journal, Animals, has published their research paper titled, “An Investigation into the Impact of Pre-Adolescent Training on Canine Behavior". The paper was written by the CCBS team of Ian R. Dinwoodie, Vivian Zottola, and under the leadership of President/CEO Nicholas H. Dodman.

The study examined the age at which 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. The study investigated 1,023 dogs whose owners (n = 641) had enlisted into a training program. Nearly all (99%) of the dogs included in the study were reported to have exhibited at least one type of behavior problem.

Aggression, compulsive behavior, destructive behavior, and excessive barking were all reduced in dogs that had attended puppy training before 6 months of age. “Taking a puppy for reward-based puppy training and socialization in the first 6 months of its life is as important as having a child attend elementary school”, says President/CEO of CCBS, Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, DACVB.

Puppy training based on reward-based methods substantially reduced the odds of aggression in adult dogs. Punishment-based methods increased the odds of aggression, as it has been found that more frequent use of punishment is associated with increased aggression and excitability. Additionally, the use of punishment when training dogs has been found to be related to an increase in both fear and aggression.

Co-authoring this paper is CCBS Research Associate, Vivian Zottola, MSc, CBCC, and owner of Boston K9 Concierge LLC. Vivian says, "As with human children, it really does take a village to raise well adjusted dogs. In our study we found “aggression, compulsive behaviors, destructive behaviors, and excessive barking were all reduced in dogs that had attended training before 6 months of age”. As notable is that the type of training was mostly reward based and that the continuing to practice what dog owners learned in training classes helped reduce the odds of puppy developing aggression as adults. And so to all the people considering pet dog ownership and all pet professionals who service clients and their young dogs please know even your actions matter. Learning is always happening, it never stops and so it behooves us all to ensure we engage with dogs and their people with kindness.”

Animals (ISSN 2076-2615) is an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal devoted entirely to animals, including zoology and veterinary sciences, published monthly online by MDPI. The full paper can be viewed here, at no cost:


Center for Canine Behavior Studies, Inc. (CCBS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the well-being of dogs through research, education and support of canine behavior and the human-animal bond. The CCBS team, led by world-renowned Veterinary Behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, discovers what behaviors lead to relinquishment and identifies ways to educate owners so that dogs and those who love them can live harmoniously. CCBS is a public nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization | EIN: 83-0908914

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