Are you one of those fantastic puppy owners who sometimes face insecurity? Do you occasionally ask yourself one or more of these questions:
- What should I do first when I get my puppy?
- Which routines do I need to establish with a puppy in the house?
- What are the typical puppy (mis)behaviors and how to deal with them?
- How do I train my puppy to be obedient and well-behaved?
- How on earth do I do … and when? You can fill in the blanks yourself.
If any of these questions look familiar to you, congratulations! You are a special kind of dog owner who cares for their dog and wants to do their very best. You rock! Yes, I know this is not how you feel when in doubt. But you must understand that what you are doing right now by educating yourself and reading this blog post means you care enough to learn.
In the following I’ll go through this:
- What to Do The Very First Week
- What’s Important About Feeding Your Puppy
- How Much And When Should Your Puppy Sleep
- Why It Is SO Important to Socialize Your Puppy
- Train Your Puppy To Stay Home Alone
- Fundamental Human Behavior When Raising a Puppy
- What to do When Your Puppy Jumps on You and Your Guests
- How to Handle Puppy Biting
- What to Do When Your Puppy Pulls the Leash
- How to Handle Puppy Barking
- What to do When Your Puppy Does Not Want to Come When You Call Her
- Crate Training Your Puppy the Right Way And Why You Should do it
- Why You Should Make a Plan on How to Train Before You Train
- My Positive Puppy Training Philosophy
- How to Teach Your Dog Anything – My Four Step Training Framework
- When (and how) to Train Your Puppy to Sit, Down, Stay and Other Common Commands
Looking for answers and learning, and yes, even being in doubt once in a while, will make you an even better dog owner and trainer. In this blog post, I’ll give you my best advice on how to raise your puppy to become a grown dog in harmony. Both you and your dog will feel more confident and secure. And your dog will want to please and obey you, even when you do not force her.
It all starts right after you have chosen your new best friend. Do not wait until your puppy is ready to go home with you. Instead, visit your new puppy as often as you can. You do this to feel happy, of course. But more importantly, it is also to get familiar with the puppy, so she feels safe with you. Remember that soon she will have to leave her siblings and her mother and all she knows behind to go with you.
With this in mind, give the breeder a small blanket or a pillow for the puppies to sleep in and play with at least a week before picking up your new puppy. Bring the blanket with you when you pick her up. When she goes to sleep the first night, she can sleep a bit easier in a smell she knows and loves, even though everything else has changed.
Also, you should find out what veterinary exams the puppy has had and what she need to have in the future, too. In fact, it can be wise to make that all-important first vet appointment as part of your preparation before you bring your new best friend home. You want to make sure the veterinarian checks your new puppy for internal parasites and other common puppy problems.
If you don’t already have a veterinarian in mind, you should give the subject some thought ahead of time. Ideally, your pet will have a lifelong relationship with the vet practice you choose. Your veterinarian should take a proactive approach to keep his or her patients healthy and should encourage you to bring your new furry family member in for regular wellness exams.
Your new puppy will soon feel at home with you and will investigate every inch of her new home. Investigating means sniffing, licking and biting stuff. This means that you should not have electric wiring at her level and do not let your most valuable stuff be within her reach.
If you have stairs, I recommend blocking your puppy’s access. This way, you can prevent your puppy from falling down the stairs. Also, your puppy is growing and her body is transforming. To avoid strain on the puppy’s body during the growth period, avoid stairs and other exhausting activities like too long walks and having her run beside you when you run or cycles. So, if you live where there are lots of stairs, you will have to carry your puppy while she is still growing.
When humans clean their houses, they often use products that can be lethal to a puppy. Also, our own medicines can harm a puppy. So make sure to hide them away where your puppy cannot get them.
Most puppies will want to eat what you are eating (and preferably at the same time!) But human food can also be poison to a dog, including but not limited to the following:
- Macadamia nuts
Some plants can also be harmful. If in doubt, you should always double check. This post might be useful. Also, do not have small items lying about your home. Your puppy will eat them if they are exciting to her. Some smaller items could get stuck inside her body without being able to get out the usual way and then you’ll get to visit your veterinarian again.
Also, you will have to think about what your visitors might bring to your home. Some might have medicine or chocolate in their bags, so be sure always to place visitors bags and coats outside your puppy’s reach.
If you have ever brought a new puppy home, you will recognize this scene: You bring this fantastic puppy home and everyone wants to touch, cuddle, kiss and fuss over it. And this is all good and much better than if they did not want the puppy. However, before you go to pick up your puppy, talk it over with your family.
You should let the person who is going to have the most contact with the puppy and is going to be the primary trainer sit with the puppy on the ride home and in the house most of the first day. This way, she’ll bond with the right person at once.
Also, you should keep it in the family for the first week or so. Yes, I know it’s difficult, but remember that your beautiful puppy has just left her safe base, her mother and often lots of siblings. She needs time to feel secure in her new home and her new family. That’s you and the ones closest to you, not all the neighbors and friends.
So don’t take her out to visit others and don’t invite a lot of friends over for the first week or so. She needs time to feel safe with you. And she’ll still be as adorable next week.
Getting a puppy will change your life for the better, I’m quite sure. Your new puppy will be a source of joy and will make your life much richer. However, your daily life will not be able to continue as today. It will, at least in the beginning, be a bit more difficult as you have to rethink your daily routines and make room for your lovely puppy. So give yourself time to adjust and be patient until you establish a daily routine for you and your new pup.
Being a puppy owner also means that you need to find a new routine for potty training your new puppy. You can do this in less than a week if you set your mind to it, but do not take it lightly. Work focused on this, it will so be worth it.
Are you wondering how to do it? Basically, you need to keep an eye on your puppy all the time in the first important days. Also, you should follow some simple rules and a strict routine. Be sure to take some time to learn more about this subject, as it is super important stuff. Here is my blog post on potty training and more specific about potty training in an apartment
The most important thing about eating routines is to make sure that you use a quality puppy feed until your puppy is about a year old. Do not try to save a penny here! Remember that your puppy is growing so much this first year. She needs a good feed to become a strong and healthy dog and she’ll live longer and better if the foundation is right.
However, the first couple of days you should give your puppy the food she is used to eating. Most breeders will provide you with some food when you pick up your puppy. If you do not want to use this food yourself, you should use it to blend with the new feed. This way your puppy will get a better transition to the new feed.
In the beginning, you need to soften the puppy food with water. For the first month or so, offer your puppy dinner three times a day. But soon you can reduce this to two meals a day depending on how large of a puppy you have. Read the instructions on the bag of food for guidelines concerning this.
Remember, do not just follow the feeding instructions blindly. Look at your puppy, A puppy should never be thin, but it is not healthy for her to be fat, either. It’s common that your puppy may lose her appetite during the first days with her new family. Remember, her world has just spun round and round, and this can affect her appetite.
So do not make her dinner more delicious or change the feed on this account. Offer her food, and if she does not eat within 10 minutes or so, just toss it in the trash. It’ll do her no harm to go without food this one time. Doing this is much better than to have a puppy that knows she just has to stop eating to get the menu better and better.
However, if this continues, make sure that nothing else is physically wrong with your puppy. You do not want her to become weakened. You just want her to be hungry and ready to eat her meals.
Remember also to call your puppy every time there’s dinner. This is a time she’ll love to come to you and you should definitely use this to grow a habit of her coming every time you call. Your puppy will quickly learn to associate your call with getting food. See this video and more info on the subject.
Remember, even though you have brought a blanket from the breeder smelling wonderful of her old family, it is not the same as the company, she’s used to. So if your puppy should sleep in another room, I’d recommend you sleep beside her the first couple of nights. This way you can easily touch her if she gets insecure and misses contact with a living being.
When your puppy is sleeping well in her new home, you can gradually move away from her and her sleeping spot until you’re both where you need to be. Of course, this is easy if you want your puppy to sleep in the bedroom. Then you can have your puppy sleep beside your bed and just offer her your hand if she cries at night.
Here’s a word of warning, though. Often, a puppy sleeping beside the bed ends up as a dog sleeping in the bed. I find this cozy and I’m fine with washing the sheets every other day. However, if you do not want this to happen, you must never allow your puppy in your bed, not even in the first days when your puppy is small and sweet.
Instead, remember how big your puppy is going to become and decide if you want a dog at that size sleeping in your bed every night. And then make a decision and stick to it. Actually, this is one of the important things to remember when dealing with your puppy. What your puppy is allowed to do, she is always allowed to do, also in the future. What she is not allowed to do, you must never let her do.
So if she does something you do not want her to, divert her attention and make her do something you can praise her for, instead. Puppies need fixed frames. They need to know what you expect from them. Always be consistent and also loving towards your puppy. Being consistent is important, so I’ll get back to it when dealing with puppy behavior and training your puppy.
Your puppy is highly susceptible in the first four months. This will not last, so it is important that she sees and experiences many different things, places, animals and humans. In these first months, she’ll be curious, wanting to investigate without fear or second thoughts. This means that you can show her almost everything and she’ll accept it. Of course, she can get startled, but if you have her back, her curiosity will almost always win. Having seen something once or twice, she’ll know that this is safe and will not fear it in the future.
But when your puppy becomes four to five months old, she’ll start being on guard when she sees something new. Of course, you can still take her to new places, but her innocent curiosity is gone. So you’ll have to work harder to get her familiar with new places or things.
To make your puppy’s life easier and your own, as well, I recommend making a plan to expose your puppy to as much as you can in her first months with you. Choose experiences she’ll have in her life with you. If you live in the country, you’ll want her to know about things like cows and horses. But remember also to take her to town and ride a bus.
And if you live in the city, make sure your puppy sees a field and a live chicken, if at all possible. Thinking this way will ensure that your puppy will be familiar with many things and will not fear them in the future. And you’ll have an easier job all the way around. So make sure to show her all the world – or at least as much as possible. This will ensure that she’s not easily scared and her life will be better. Learn more about how to socialize your puppy right here
Your puppy loves to be together with you. It’s in her nature to be with her pack always. I’m guessing you would love to be with her all the time as well. However, this is not possible. If you do not teach your puppy that you’ll leave her once in a while, she’ll probably cry and feel terrible the first time you leave.
You need to teach her from the very beginning that you will leave but you’ll always return. If not she’ll be so afraid and she’ll call you, again and again, you’ll feel awful and your neighbors will come to hate her… So for her sake, for yours and for the sake of your neighbors do teach her this.
In the beginning, you leave her so short, she might not even notice. But do leave. Go out the door, close it and return at once. Do not make a fuss, not when you leave and not when you return. Be careful not to move too quickly forward, it’s important that she does not get scared. Here you’ll learn much more about how to teach your puppy to stay home alone.
It’s vital for your life together as for your puppy’s quality of life that you train your puppy. Remember the simple rule. What she’s allowed to do, she is always allowed, also when she grows up. Be sure to set the rules in advance, and make sure everyone in the house knows and obeys these rules. You must tell them how important this is because your new puppy’s happiness depends on it.
Also, you must stop your puppy from doing what she is not allowed to do. So if she’s getting herself in trouble, try not to tell her ”no.” Instead, lead her away from what is tempting her and get her engaged in something you want her to. It can be “come,” or it can be “sit.” It just has to be something you want and for what you can praise her and give her a cookie.
Soon your puppy will seek out what she thinks you want because right now, you are at the center of her world. Remember to enjoy this, it will not last! Hold back “no” for the few occasions where it is extremely important to stop your puppy.
Listen carefully as this is really important: Never hit your puppy. Beating a puppy is not disciplining or teaching her anything. Instead, you’re showing her that you can not be trusted and should be seen as a source of pain. So, never, ever do this. And do not shout at her either. Dogs have much better hearing than people.
In my mind, you never really need to discipline your puppy. You just need to rethink how you yourself should react to her. For example, control the environment by training inside or control your puppy by using a long line when outside. To learn more about how to discipline a dog the right way, look here
Instead, use your time and effort on showing her what you want – and then praise her! An obedient dog will have a better life. It’s simple but true.
And your life together will be better, as well. So work with your dog. Train her. It does not matter what you teach her. Seek inspiration from the internet and the company of others. It’s good for both of you and so important. Train your puppy. There will be more on this subject later.
The most important thing for your puppy to learn is to pay attention to you and to trust you! When you have achieved this, it’ll be so much easier to teach her anything else. So make sure that your puppy always is sitting down, looking at you before you give her something like her food. Also, do this before you let her come through the door or into the car. Read my blog post to learn much more.
Boys will be boys, and puppies will be puppies. For good and for bad. So, raising a puppy means teaching your puppy what you want and what you do not want, too. While dealing with taught or natural behaviors, here’s a repeat of the most important rule to remember: What you allow your puppy to do, she should always be allowed to do. What she is not allowed to do, you must never accept her doing.
Does this mean that you can not change a behavior? No, it does not. You can, but by allowing your puppy first to do something and then moments later not accept it is not making it easy for your puppy. And you want to make it easy for her because even if you do your best to keep it simple and consistent, you are going to ask a lot of her when she is growing up.
Also, because you know you may not agree with many behaviors that seem naturally to your puppy. It could be any of the typical puppy behaviors, below.
Most puppies want to come as close to your face as possible. They want to get your attention, to tell you they are here, to make you pet them and because they love you! However, most of us do not love a dog jumping all over us. So, what to do? Here is my quick no-jump recipe for you:
- Make up your mind. What will you allow and what will you not allow?
- Be aware of your body language. Are you encouraging your puppy to jump or are you helping by diverting her attention?
- Remember to praise the right behavior.
- Ignore your puppy when she jumps on you.
- Be consistent for as long as it takes.
You can read much more about how to stop dogs from jumping up and see my video on how I stopped Atlas from jumping on me here.
Puppy biting – It is as normal as it is annoying! It is simply a part of puppy-playing and learning. But it can also have another cause, which is teething. No normal puppy bites to be mean! No matter the reason, you want them to stop biting you and instead bite their toys or not bite at all, even if this is too much to ask of a puppy.
The trick to make the biting stop is to make a high startled sound like another puppy being hurt. You must at the same time freeze and keep still for a moment. Most puppies will let go if you don’t move. Now, you must ignore your puppy for a minute or so. Do not talk and do not touch and this way tell your puppy that it is not ok.
If the puppy is being calmer, you can talk to her again and even touch and play, but remember to play calmly! If you can play together without her biting you, praise her. If not, repeat. This works for most puppies because this is how they would tell another puppy to be calmer.
However for some, this is not enough, so you might have to use other means like diverting your puppy’s attention by telling her to sit or stay, or you can crate your puppy. If you want to know more about how to stop your puppy from biting you, read this blog post.
Most puppies love to go for a walk with (or without) you! However, many also do not want to walk on a leash or want to go faster than you by pulling the leash. I have had so many questions about this so I know that this is a common problem. Sadly, this often means that many dog owners do not like to go for a walk with their puppy, and later their grown dog. So it’s important that you teach your puppy how to walk nicely on a leash to make it possible for you both to enjoy your walks for many years ahead.
Your puppy should not pull, but instead, pay attention to you by stopping when you do and walking nicely beside you when you walk. To teach her this, you must first teach her to stay beside you in every situation and to stop every time you stop. This must be a habit so strong that she will sit every time without hesitation.
So if she pulls, simply stop and do not walk on until she is calm. This means that a walk with the puppy can be short but may take a long time. The key to success is to be consistent. Also, you must remember to praise her and not to be too boring when you walk. You can learn much more here and also see a couple of training videos.
Barking is as natural to a dog as talking is to humans. And like humans, some dogs talk more than others, but few are completely silent and this is quite alright. However, it can be too much and to control the barking, you must investigate to find out why your puppy barks. Primarily, dogs bark because of either worries or excitement.
If your puppy barks because she is worried, acknowledge her worrying and then tell her to be quiet. At the same time, lure her with a great treat as she can neither both bark and smell, nor eat. As long as she is quiet, praise and reward her, making the time she must be quiet to get a treat longer and longer before giving it.
Also, you must pay attention to what sets her off and divert her attention at the first signs she might bark. Instead, ask her to focus on you by making her do some exercises. If your puppy barks because of excitement try to ignore her. She is probably barking towards you to show you how happy and excited she is. So if you go away, so will her reason to bark.
Also, you can try to divert her attention. Even though this is difficult because your puppy is already super excited and probably not interested in whatever you come up with, drop something that will make a lot of noise and startle your puppy. She must think that this happens because of her barking and it will most likely shut her up for a moment.
If so, hurry to praise her and thereby give her a new habit. Never let her get what she wants by barking! For more tips on this subject look here.
For most of my students – and for me – being able to call a dog in any situation is the most important thing to be able to do. Because I want to be able to let my dogs run free, but to do this, you must be able to control them no matter what happens. To achieve this, you must start training recall the very first day your puppy moves into your home.
When you call her, only call out her name once, giving her the habit that she must come every single time she hears her name. Repeat this many times a day for many months. You are building a habit so strong, your puppy will come to you every time, even if something much more interesting is in front of her. And that takes many repetitions!
Call your puppy only when you think she’ll come and celebrate hugely when she does. Reward her with praise, toys or treats. If she does not come, you must remove her from what distracts her and try again. Make use of her instincts when planning her exercise. Make her chase you and celebrate when she catches up.
Never punish your puppy for not coming or coming late. If she does not come, you are not interesting enough. So, if you punish her for finally coming, you are making her think twice the next time. Learn more about this important subject here.
A crate can seem like a cage to you, but when you use it wisely, the crate will become your puppy’s den and she’ll love it. A crate then becomes a safe place, a place to sleep or take refuge. Also, the crate will help you solve some of the puppy behaviors above and also these problems:
- When you must leave your puppy alone.
- For a timeout when she is all wired up.
- If the children in the house don’t know when it’s time to stop playing with the puppy, and vice versa.
- You need a safe way to transport your puppy.
- Your puppy is misbehaving and you need to make her stop without a fight.
Never use the crate as a punishment. Instead, give your puppy a time out and soon after, let her out again to make a better choice. However, you need to crate train the right way, so your puppy comes to love the crate. You want her to walk in there on her own behalf. If you do it wrong, your puppy could end up hating the crate and you’ll miss out on a useful tool. You’ll find a useful step-by-step recipe right here.
Besides dealing with the normal puppy misbehavior, you need to teach your puppy to become an obedient dog who wants to please you at all times. So you need to focus on what you want from your dog. You need to have a goal. And then you need to figure out how to reach the goal together with your puppy.
Do you wonder how to raise your puppy? First and foremost: Be conscious about how you want to do it. Make a guideline that goes well with how you want your relationship to be with your dog. Use this as your red line in all your puppy and dog training. When you have found the way that is right for you, adapt all training ideas to suit this.
This way, your dog will experience consistency, making it easy for her to know what to do. Also, your puppy will feel secure because she knows you and she knows what will happen. She’ll be confident and trust you because you are reliable and easy to figure out. Your puppy will live her life in a secure setting.
She will feel your love and gratitude since she always knows what to do. And she will recognize your training methods, so you’ll be halfway done when you start a new exercise. Making a choice on how to train your puppy, does not mean you do not ever have to seek inspiration, feel doubt again or even change your guidelines.
But avoid shifting from one training philosophy to another every half year. Your puppy and later, your dog needs to know what you want and how you want it. How else can she comply feel secure and loved? Also, if you change your ways every few months, your puppy might eventually give up on you.
So to be constant, you must choose how you want to be as a dog owner and act accordingly. But no one can decide this for you. If you are still a bit confused, keep reading to learn about my training philosophy.
I believe in positive training. Actually, most dog people do. But what is that exactly? To me, it is love for the puppy, consistency in what you expect from her and giving her a choice. To explain more about choice, it is important to know how your puppy learns.
So prior to teaching and training your dog, understand how your dog learns and put this knowledge into good use. Then you’ll be able to teach your dog all she needs to become a gentle, happy and well-behaved dog you’ll be able to bring anywhere.
In short, your puppy learns how to behave simply by trying things out. She’ll continue to do what works well. And she’ll stop doing what does not work. So in a learning situation, I give my puppy a choice. If she chooses wisely and does what I want, I’ll reward her, giving her praise and treats. If not, she’ll receive nothing.
Now that you know this, you’ll be able to understand my four-step framework for teaching a puppy or a dog anything.
I find that you can teach your puppy anything if you use the following four-step framework. For me it is the backbone of training new behaviors as well as strengthening these behaviors, so your puppy can make the choices you want her to at all times. Knowing these four stages will allow you to teach your dog anything because this framework is simple:
- Manipulate your dog to do what you want. Do not touch your pup. Remember, she must choose to do this herself to learn! Lure with a treat or noises, toys etc.
- At the exact moment she succeeds, you must praise and treat her. Make it a huge celebration 🙂 Repeat, repeat, repeat
- When you are sure your dog will repeat the action, you cue it. However, only do this when the behavior is consistent and you can tell that your puppy knows what you expect.
- Start adding distractions to reinforce the behavior in all situations to strengthen the behavior. That could be to do the exercise in another room, go outside to do it and later, have others watching, also other dogs.
This is a short version, so if you want to know more about this please let me know by commenting below.
Most of my students like to have some rules on when to start training sit, down, stay and so on. But, you cannot set up rules for this because it all comes down to when your puppy is ready to move on. But as a guideline, you should start training your pup to sit and come the first week you have your puppy. You train sit simply by holding a treat over the puppy’s head.
Do this while your puppy is sitting beside you, not in front. Sitting beside you instead of in front will make loose leash walking easier to teach. She’ll follow the treat with her eyes and as her head goes back, she’ll sit to keep her balance. When she sits every time, you bring the treat over her head, add the cue at the precise moment she sits. Soon she’ll know what this means whether you hold the treat or not.
Train your puppy to come by calling your puppy’s name once and make her come to you. Do this a couple of thousand times or so (no, I’m not kidding) Look here for more inspiration on the topic.
When your puppy sits bravely every time you ask her to, you can start training her to stay, perhaps even in the second week. Just tell her to sit, give her a treat and as she chews on it, say “stay” and take a quick step away and an even quicker step back to her, praising her for staying.
It’s likely she never even noticed you were gone, but when you repeat, repeat, repeat, she’ll soon understand what to do. If she stands up, gently lead her back and ask her to sit again. After correcting her, you can praise her for sitting. But, do not give her a cookie because you’ll reinforce her for moving. And be consistent or she’ll never learn.
When this is working, most likely in the third week, you can start training her the down command. You can do this from “sit,” by placing a cookie between your puppy’s front legs and slowly pulling it away from the puppy. However, I’ve found this works best for bigger breeds since smaller breeds have no need to lie down to get the cookie. They can reach it without problems.
So here you need to lure your puppy in down in another manner using your imagination. Often it works to hold the cookie between her front legs from a sit and moving your hand with the cookie towards her belly. Following the cookie, she’ll trip over and lie down.
Just remember you must not force her down. Instead, you must be patient and imaginative. And when your puppy finally lies down, remember to add the cue. In time she’ll learn.
Now just add “stay” to your “down,” by expanding this command and making it even stronger. In the third week you can also start loose leash walking. Look here to learn all about it.
As you can see, you can start training straight away when you get your new puppy. You should introduce the usual commands to your puppy within the first four weeks. You will teach your puppy to pay attention to you while you train, too. However, remember to check in with your puppy. There is no need to rush it because training your puppy is not a sprint.
It is a life-long marathon.
So, the important question is not when to start, even though it is much easier to train a puppy than a grown dog. The important thing is to keep on working with your puppy and your dog, training every day, building on your puppy’s skills and making her – and your relationship – better and better.
So now you have heard my best advice on how to raise your puppy. Is this the absolute truth? It is to me all though I’m still curious and still learning. Other dog trainers might have another take on this all together, or perhaps just a slightly different approach. That is probably the absolute truth to them.
Now it is time for you to find your own way of raising a puppy. You might think my ideas are great and copy them. Please, be my guest. Just remember to make it a conscious choice, so you know you are training and raising your puppy in the way that is right for you and your puppy.
As I have said, this is the absolute truth to me, but I’m quite sure it is not the whole truth. So please help me make this blog post even better by offering some good advice, as well. You can do this by commenting here. I would love to hear from you! And please share if you find value in this blog post.
When do I start with crate training and potty training?
You should start straight away with potty training. Just remember that your puppy is young and you can not expect her to manage until she is eight weeks or so. For inspiration on how to train, look here. You can start crate training between seven and eight weeks, as well. However, it must be on the puppy’s terms. Read this post to learn how to crate train your puppy.
What about spaying?
At what age should I have my dog spayed or neutered? Spaying females or neutering males can take place as early as when a puppy is a few months old. However, I strongly recommend that you consult with your trusted veterinarian to determine if you should spay or neuter your puppy and what the best age is for your puppy.
Also, make sure to talk to your veterinarian about why you want to spay or neuter your puppy. Be aware that you easily can have reactive issues with spayed and neutered dogs.
Also, some warn that spaying and neutering can cause health issues. Some vets in the U.S. recommend spaying or neutering between five and nine months of age, but some say that they should be at least two years old and all grown up, so the puppy does not have insecurities or health issues.
I do not know if there is an absolute truth in this subject. My dogs are not spayed or neutered, I have both male and female and I have no aggression issues.
However, you must figure this out for yourself in consultation with your veterinarian.
The bottom line is you should talk with your veterinarian about your reasons why and find out about the best time to have your pet spayed or neutered.