Puppies need routines and schedules. Lots of them. 

We don’t mean to overwhelm you, but having a schedule for toilet training, feeding, socialisation, crate training, and sleeping will make your life much easier in the long run! Ah, and let’s not forget also ones for learning Life Skills or obedience. 

Blimey, that sounds like a lot for just being new to all of this puppy business. But there’s nothing to worry about – we’ve got you covered. 

Our week-by-week puppy training schedule will show you the way to raise your puppy into a polite, well-behaved ready to take on the world dog!

By setting the ground rules for your puppy while they’re young, you’ll have no worries as they grow up. With your guidance, there’s no doubt he’ll become the hottest dog in town in no time. 

Over 100,000 puppies trained through Zigzag

Start your personalised plan today!

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Some general advice upfront

Why start off at 8 weeks?

Well to keep it short, the earlier the better. 

A puppy’s prime learning age is before they are 16 weeks old, when they’re the most eager and willing to listen. Better not wait until they hit their teenage years – we all know how much of an uphill battle that age can be.

USEFUL INFO: Puppies are always learning, from the moment they’re born. Their mother teaches them their first set of valuable skills to set them off for their new lives with you such as how to feed, where to go to the toilet – and their littermates teach them how to play.

How wonderful is that?

Now your puppy is home, it’s your job to continue their mother’s teachings on how to live in the human world. Let’s make her proud 🙂

Why do I need to have puppy training schedules and routines?

Just like people do to be honest, puppies thrive when they have a routine. Routines help make a little more sense of the world as it becomes predictable; yet never boring. 

It also helps them gain confidence in themselves, as they know how to deal with new experiences and situations better and better. 

Having a puppy training schedule will help you to

  • Speed up the learning process of house training
  • Feel less of the stress and worries you go through as a new puppy parent  
  • Have a confident puppy! 

What should I include in my puppy’s daily training schedule?

Here’s a few you can include in your puppy’s daily training schedule: 

  • Toilet Training 
  • Sleep Training 
  • Alone Training 
  • Enrichment 
  • Playing, chewing, tugging and sniffing
  • Socialisation (at home exercises).
  • Walks and socialisation field trips
  • Life Skills and Obedience Training

We know what you’re thinking – it definitely looks way too much for a small puppy. And there are so few hours in the day! But there’s nothing to worry about. We’ve kept in mind how everyone’s lives and schedules are different in our guide.

Our ‘sample day’ guide is there for you to print, use and change as you see fit! Your schedule is likely to change and be adjusted the more you and your puppy settle in and train together anyway.

Welcome to the journey.

What kind of training methods will I be using?

Positive Reinforcement training, alongside management protocols, is the latest and most modern training method. This is the one we’ll be guiding you with – let us explain why we trust it.

The reward based system of Positive Reinforcement training has been scientifically proven to effectively encourage the behaviours that you want to see your puppy do, and to give them confidence when entering a new situation. To put it really straight forward – more rewards mean more good behaviour. More good doggies, more happy humans!

What we mean by ‘good behaviours’ could be anything like having our pups sit, lay down, settle, or come back when we call out their name.

Rewards can be all sorts of things such as:

  • Treats,
  • Toys,
  • Praise,
  • Or anything else your puppy likes. Let’s not make it money though, that hasn’t worked out too well for humans.

What does Management mean in Puppy Training? 

Management is all about controlling the situation and environment around your puppy to help them avoid making mistakes or getting into sticky situations (can be meant literally, if they have a toilet-related accident). 

Although you might think management makes you look like the fun police, it’s quite the opposite in the long run really. Management will help them familiarise themselves with the rights or wrongs by setting them up for success, rather than learning by mistakes!

Here’s a few examples of how you can practice management with your puppy:

  • Getting a crate to keep your puppy safe.
  • Restricting an area or room of the house with a baby gate to prevent your puppy going in somewhere we don’t want them.
  • A harness and lead to stop them from jumping up on people with their muddy paws.

Do we use punishments?

No, no. 

Punishing puppies is way behind the times! Doesn’t really make sense to expect your puppy to know the ropes straight away anyway, right? There’s plenty of research in puppy development that shows how punishment methods are just dodgy too. 

With positive reinforcement, you’ll learn how to teach them correctly so that rewards aren’t withheld, and corrections needn’t be made.

Not gonna lie, our training philosophy is quite similar to Seal’s Love is Powerful: Train them with love, kindness and consistency. 

At what time should I train my puppy?

Throughout the day. At the beginning you’ll have to adjust your personal schedule to set time aside to train your puppy.

The easiest times to remember to train your puppy are usually:

  • First thing in the morning (around 7am): Make it after your puppy’s been out to the toilet and use some of their breakfast kibble as food rewards.
  • After their post breakfast wee
  • After their mid-morning nap
  • Before you give them their brunch (around 11) – you can use some of their food ration as treats.
  • After their afternoon nap
  • Before Dinner time (around 3pm) – use some of their dinner to train
  • Before supper (around 7pm) – using some of their food to reward them with

As you can see by our collection of nicely organized bullet points, puppy training relies on repetition and consistency. And patience. Learning (for any kind of living organism, to be fair) works best with a groundwork like this; which we’re more than confident you’ll be able to get the hang of eventually. Once you start seeing the progress with your puppy, we assure you that the excitement will only make you want to keep going further.

What does a day in the life of my puppy look like?

Ah, you ask all the right questions. 

Below, you’ll find a 24 hour sample puppy training schedule. It includes everything you’ll need to do for the day to get yourself (and the little one) into a smart routine. We’ve coloured-coded (how organised are we) all the toilet breaks you’ll have to get through in the day (surely you don’t want poopy floors), nap times, play times, and training times too, to get you right on track.

Time Activity
5-7am Wake up and Toilet Time! We’ve put this in the same box because they’ll happen almost at the same time. As soon as your eyes open, go straight to your puppy’s toilet area. Take your puppy with you when you do this, of course (we know the struggles of a sleepy head in these early mornings). 
5-7am See if your puppy will go back to sleep after their early toilet break. If not, well, get the coffee on to start your day as well. 
7.00 Breakfast – In an activity feeder or Kong to keep them busy and unbloated. 
7.15 Toilet Break
7.30 Play and Training
8.15 Toilet Break
8.30 Naptime
10.30 Toilet Break
10.45 Training
11am Brunch
11.15 Toilet Break
11.30 Play and Training
11.45 Toilet Break
12.00 Play and Training
12.30 Naptime
2.30 Toilet Break
2.45 Play and Training
3.00 Dinner Time
3.15 Toilet Break
3.30 Play and Training
3.45 Toilet Break
4.00 Naptime
6.00 Toilet Break
6.15 Training
7pm Supper Time
7.15 Toilet Break
7.30 Play and Training
7.45 Toilet Break
8.00 Relaxation and wind down
10.45 Toilet Break
11pm – midnight Bed Time
3am Wake up and take your puppy to the toilet. Yes, you read correctly, 3:00 am. Not forever though!
3.15 Calmly go back to bed.
5-7am Good morning! Start all over – first stop, toilet area. 

Do I have to follow the schedule you’ve set for me?

It’s up to you. First, have a look at the schedule and test out how you and your puppy adjust around it. In broad brushstrokes, one of the most important things to implement is opportunity for toilet breaks, especially after playing, training, napping and eating.  

PRO TIP: If you have them outside of their crate or confinement area, we recommend going for a  toilet break every 15 minutes to begin with. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do this for very long at all. As they get older and wiser, toilet breaks will happen less frequently. But for now let’s keep them as constant as possible to steer clear of smelly accidents.

What does a puppy training schedule look like?

Besides beautiful, it looks kind of like this. 

Our 8 week training plan includes several socialisation exercises, life skills training and husbandry tasks (what a term) you can aim for as the weeks go by.

Example of an 8-week puppy training schedule

Week 1 Socialisation exercises 
– Letting your puppy explore the garden
– Teaching your puppy about surfaces
– Watching the world go by outside your house
– Visiting the vet with your puppy
Life Skills Training
– Teaching them their name
– Sitting (without a cue yet)
– Recall
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
Husbandry Tasks
– Brushing
– Hand touch
Week 2 Socialisation exercises 
– Meeting the vacuum cleaner
– Fireworks
– Watch the world go by
– Playing dress up (so they get used to seeing people with different clothes)
– Sitting in the car
– Meeting new people (friends who come for a visit)
Life Skills Training
– Alone Training
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Name – in the garden
– Recall – in garden
– Playing fetch
– Drop
– Sit – add a cue word in
Husbandry Tasks
– Handling – start by checking their ears and eyes
– Playing with paws
– Grooming
– Getting used to a collar
Week 3 Socialisation exercises
– Visiting the pet store
– Playing dress up
– Discovering new scents
– Going for a drive
– Surfaces
– Write a puppy socialisation checklist
Life Skills Training
– Recall – adding a cue word
– Sit to Greet – as opposed to jumping up
– Playing Tug
– Alone Training
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Sit – different locations
Husbandry Tasks
– Harness fitting
– Grooming – let’s stick with brushing for now.
Week 4 Socialisation exercises
– Attending a puppy class
– Write a puppy socialisation checklist
– Meet more people
Life Skills Training
– Settling on a mat
– Alone Training
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Lead walking
– Recall games
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
Husbandry Tasks
– Handling with puppy on a table – vet game
Week 5 Socialisation exercises
– Go to the pub – this one’s for you.You deserve it!
– Meeting children
– Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist
Life Skills Training
– Alone Training
– Crate Training
– Toilet Training
– Retrieve games
– Recall – outside using a long line
– Settle on a mat – different locations
– Lead walking – outside
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
Husbandry Tasks
– Pretend nail clips
– Grooming
Week 6 Socialisation exercises
– Going on longer car journeys
– Meet a friend’s dog
– Tick 3 things off your personal socialisation checklist
Life Skills Training
– Down – outside
– Leaving toys
– Following on walks
– Watch me
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
Husbandry Tasks
– Checking your puppy’s mouth
– Starting teeth cleaning
Week 7 Socialisation exercises
– Puppy Parkour
– Going for a swim
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
Life Skills Training
– Down – with distractions
– Waiting
– Walking with a friend’s dog
– Alone training – 5 minutes
– Recall – off the lead
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
Husbandry Tasks
– Pretend ear and eye drops
Week 8 Socialisation exercises
– Tick 3 things off your personal checklist
– Joggers and Cyclists
Life Skills Training
– Lead walking in busier places
– Practicing exercises in different locations
– Teach a hand touch
– Introduce nose work
– Push/drop/stick on known exercises
Husbandry Tasks
– Nail trims

Build you own schedule through “Push-Drop-Stick” 

What is Push, Drop, Stick?

Glad you asked. 

Push, Drop, Stick, is a way of systematically raising the difficulty of an exercise or behaviour you want to see happen. It’s one of our favourite ways to see when puppies are ready to move on in their training.

Let’s think about it this way – keeping things simple and the same can make your progress slower as your puppy can get stuck at a certain level of difficulty, instead of moving onto bigger things. We want to keep raising the bar enough so that our puppy doesn’t get bored, but not so much that they find it too difficult and give up when they aren’t rewarded. 

To prevent puppies from being in a jam, we can use a system called ‘Push Drop Stick’. 

It’s all about maintaining enough momentum so that your puppy stays excited and motivated about winning some good treats; but not so much that they aren’t thinking about how to be rewarded by trying harder and eventually quit. 

Does it seem a tad like slot machines? Possibly.

How does it work?

Let’s do 5 repetitions of an exercise, and keep track of how many your puppy gets right. Based on how they perform we’re going to choose whether to do which of the following –

Push – go to the next level of difficulty (raise criteria)

Drop – back to the previous level of difficulty (drop criteria)

Stick – stay at the current level of difficulty (stay with current criteria)


  How many out of 5 did your puppy get right? What should I do? Why?
Push 5 out of 5 Make it harder They are proficient at the current level. Yay!
Drop 0, 1, or 2 out of 5 Make it easier They’re about to quit – this level is too hard for them right now. 
Stick 3 or 4 out of 5 Do another set of 5 at this difficulty They don’t need you to drop, but they aren’t quite ready to be pushed yet.

Why should I train like this?

By training in repetitions of 5, they’ll be less likely to get stuck at a certain point. It also means that we’ll get better at keeping track of where we’re at in training, so we can work on strengthening their behaviours.

What is difficulty or criteria?

Difficulty or Criteria relates to the ‘three D’s’:

– Duration: How long your puppy can perform the behaviour for

– Distraction: What their distractions are like

– Distance: How far can you be (distance-wise) and still have your pup perform the task or behaviour.

How should I continue dog training after this 8-week plan?

First off, take a breather and let us congratulate you. 

Well done for completing your puppy training schedule!

We only wish we could say that’s the end of the training, and that you’re off to a happily ever after. This is half true – of course you’re destined towards joyful times with your puppy, but really, you’re just getting started. Now there’s a good way to frame it.

Your puppy has now learnt the first ABCs of their world, but not much beyond that. There’s still so much to cover – the fun has only just begun!

Your puppy may have grown in size, but they’re still like babies on the inside. Let’s not expect too much from them too soon, they’re simply not ready to leave Neverland just yet. Bet you’d have liked to stay younger for longer too…don’t lie.

One thing you’ll need to know is that once your puppy’s confidence starts to grow, you’ll definitely need to keep up reward based training so that they can continue growing into the good dog everyone will turn heads for.  

Definitely a love me, love my dog situation.

Besides staying consistent and keeping up your good spirits, here’s a few more things to keep in mind to strengthen your puppy’s training:

  • Train in different locations so that your puppy generalises well
  • Don’t forget about the Push/Drop/Stick system
  • Work on alone training so your puppy gets increasingly comfortable being left on their own
  • Have variety – you can start teaching them different things and tricks from a young age. Perfect for impressing your neighbours. 
  • Attend a well-run training class by an accredited trainer

Here’s a heads up that might leave you in a tizzy. At around 6 months old puppies start to go into the teenage phase . 

This phase can be quite troublesome and rebellious (just look back at your teenage years), so make sure you keep training all the way through so that this doesn’t come as a shock to you.

Some extra schedules you’ll need

Toilet training schedule

Why do I need a schedule for toilet training?

There are mainly three good reasons why you need a schedule for puppy toilet training. 

  • You have goals to work towards
  • It enters your puppy into a reliable and predictable routine. Puppies are brilliant ‘joiners up of dots’ . A schedule helps them pick up on patterns; such as going to the toilet after A, B, or C. 
  • Most importantly – Schedules makes toilet training go faster

 As you may have realised, when your puppy is, well, just a puppy, they have very little bladder control and they need to go to the toilet often. You’ll see that the older they get, the better they’ll become at holding in their wee; meaning less toilet trips for you, and more of their ability to communicate their needs to go. Their use of full English words are still out of the question though. 

With time, you’ll be able to spot signs. Some puppies are very obvious – standing by the back door or sitting and whining in front of you until you pay attention. Others may be more subtle and start sniffing and circling around. 

You’ll learn to read your own puppy’s language eventually!

How often will my puppy need the toilet?

At first, a lot!

At 8 weeks, your puppy will likely need the toilet once an hour. 

As they get older, they start to be able to hold it for longer. Crate training can really help with this – just make sure not to get too excited by it, and don’t rush into it as they risk having an accident inside the crate. Think of it like a toot: if you force it, well, we all know what happens.

Here’s a handy table showing how long the average puppy is able to ‘hold it in’ by age: 

Age of my puppy Maximum they can hold it for is At night they might hold it for
8 weeks 2 hours 5 hours
12 weeks 3 hours 7 hours
16 weeks 4 hours 8 hours

PRO TIP: If you have a toy breed, they’ll need the toilet more frequently.

Sidenote – If your puppy is going to the toilet more frequently then these numbers, don’t panic! There’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just that all puppies develop differently. They’ll be able to hold it in one day, we promise!

Puppy feeding schedule

Does my puppy need a feeding schedule?


Puppies need a feeding schedule in order to get their metabolism in tune with predictable eating times.

A feeding schedule is also the foundation that’s going to help with all of the other training and routines you have for your puppy like training and doing home alone training exercises. Remember that what comes in must go out, so having a good idea of when they might need the toilet will be of great help to plan out the rest of your day.

How often should I feed my puppy?

It depends on their age. But just so you know, young puppies need to eat a lot…they might as well be vacuum cleaners. 

It makes sense though, they are growing, and need huge amounts of calories for their mental and physical development. It’s actually quite right that they gobble so much food down! 

As for you, you should spread your puppy’s feeding times nicely throughout the day and use activity feeders to provide enrichment opportunities (aka so they don’t bloat and run into any digestive troubles).

Below is a nice table showing  how many meals a day your puppy should have. This depends on their size, breed, and their own preferences of eating times! 

PRO TIP: Take the time to discover when your puppy likes to eat. Some aren’t keen on a meal first thing, they’d rather go on a walk first!

Age Meals per day
8 – 16 weeks 4 times a day
16 weeks  – 6 months 3 times per day
6 months + 2 times per day

Naps & Bedtimes schedule

How much should my puppy sleep?

Just like human babies – a huge amount! On average, your puppy will need to sleep between 16 and 20 hours per day. After so many lessons and external stimulation, they sure do need the rest.  

Why do puppies need so much sleep?

Puppies need to sleep a lot because they are busy growing physically, mentally and taking in so much information at once. On top of that, they’re doing so at a much faster rate than you can imagine!

When should they sleep?

Puppies should sleep many times throughout the day. Usually, their sleeping times will look like this:

  • Mid-morning: After they have eaten, and have had time to play or train.
  • After lunch: They’ll use their down time to digest their food. Their body is a poop making factory at this point.
  • After dinner: Another perfect moment for digesting food and information
  • At night: One last chance to process the day away before drifting off.

Why does my puppy need a sleep schedule?

A sleep schedule or set nap times allows your puppy to hit reset, and get them on their feet to start fresh for more learning and developing. 

Here’s other reasons why they need a sleep schedule:

  • So that they’re not fractious or irritable. We’re sure you can relate.
  • Following the above point, they’ll be less inclined to bite and mouth you.
  • They’ll have an easier time processing all of the new information they’ve taken in throughout the day
  • It lets you have some time away from them. This isn’t meant to sound mean, but you’ll find that your puppy’s nap times will do you well to catch a breather too.

Will my puppy need less sleep as they get older?

Yes! As your puppy gets older, they will often sleep less, but don’t forget that even adult dogs sleep a lot. Think of Grandpa George. 

Should I wake my puppy up for toilet breaks?

Not during the day. Note that the schedule we have outlined for you is just a sample; your puppy might wake up sooner or later than said on the schedule. Just make sure to take them out for a toilet break after. 

No need to wake them up! If your puppy is sleeping, it is best to leave them to sleep – they clearly need the rest. 

At nightime, your puppy will let you know what they need. They will probably wake up for a toilet break in the middle of the night, but if they don’t, then we advise you to set the alarm for around 5:00 am for a quick trip to the loo. You wouldn’t want to wake up to the smell of fresh wee, trust us.

FAQ on Puppy Training Schedule

What is the first thing you should train your puppy?

 The first things you should teach your puppy are:
·   Toilet Training
·   Crate Training
·   Handling
·   Their name
·   Life Skills or Obedience exercises. We recommend sticking with sit, recall and down.
You can save teaching them tricks for a little later. 

What age should I start training my puppy?

As soon as you bring them home is the right time. As you can see, age isn’t really as important. Just make sure they’re old enough to leave their mother though!  

In what order should I train my puppy?

For this question, you might want to put yourself first. Order your training according to what you find most important for your lifestyle. Most commonly, it goes like this:

Toilet Training: Not having poo in the living room seems to be a popular preference
Your puppy’s name: So they know it’s them you’re talking to, and not the wall.
Crate or confinement training: This is great for having them start getting used to being apart from you. And especially to make them understand that the world won’t end when you’re gone
Handling: Showing them that hands are friends, not chew toys is always convenient. 

How long should a training session be for a puppy?

There’s three basic rules to follow for how long a training session for your pup should be:

·   Short and sweet: No longer than 5 minutes to accommodate their short (but sweet) attention span
·   Spread out throughout the day: To improve their retention of information, and also work on your bond.
·   Repetitive: Repetition leads to progression, which leads to perfection. Okay, nobody’s looking to be perfect, but you get the picture.  

My puppy can’t go out yet, what socialisation training can I do at home?

Don’t get us started – there’s plenty! 

Here’s a list of socialisation training activities you can do while they wait to go outside:
·   Creating a puppy adventure box like these by avi-dog https://www.avidog.com/oh-what-fun-avidogs-adventure-box/
·   Walking on different surfaces: Think of tiles, your welcome mat, the grass on your garden, the bath mat…lots of room to get creative.
·   Meeting new people: We know your friends are dying to meet your puppy. Having them come over (two by two is ace – don’t want to overwhelm your puppy) is a good way to get them to understand that other people besides you exist on the planet. 
·   Watch the world go by: Take in the wonderful outdoors from a safe distance until they’re able to get the full experience. Going for a drive is also a good way to do it while raising the fun levels. Who doesn’t love sticking their heads out the window?
·   Introducing new scents: Different plants, fruits, or materials are good. Not your sweaty pits, please.
·   Play dress up: With your family members, try to get your puppy to trust you while wearing different clothes, hats, perhaps a wig or a costume. In life, he’ll probably run into many people that look, dress and behave differently, so better get them on board. 
·   Visiting the vet: A great time to start making positive associations with the vet by going on short field trips. 

For other ideas, feel free to browse through The Puppy Plan and Sound Proof Puppy Training.