By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As a trainer and canine behavior specialist, I see all too often too many dogs who have never been shown guiduance properly, socialized or given any type of safe boundaries.

By boundaries, I simply mean that there are certain areas that the dog cannot safely cross. For example, at the front door, the dog can be shown where to sit and stay as a place of reference whenever anyone enters. This not only keeps the dog safe but also prevents any unwanted jumping behavior on visiting guests at the front door. This can also prevent the dog from bolting out the front door whenever anyone enters or exits. But ultimately, this structure and safe parameter helps the dog to stay focused, inhibiting other escalated behavioral issues later.

Fortunately, there is no time constraint to begin guiding your dog. Dogs can be trained as early as puppyhood from eight weeks of age and up, (they shouldn’t be taken away from their mother any earlier than this!) to as late as in their senior years. And yes, old dogs CAN learn new tricks, and then some! It’s absolutely never too late.

Dogs look to us to learn everyday. They are one species that inherently looks to the human for guidance and direction.

Ideally, you should start to train the moment you take your dog home. Your dog is always watching and learning so the very first day presents many opportunities to teach and to set boundaries, as well as create the path to start appropriate routines such as housebreaking.

Always start training after a good walk to gain your dog’s focus. Creating healthy routines on a consistent basis can prevent and deflect many behavioral issues in the future.