New puppies may be cute and cuddly but they are also a forever commitment. When you decide to give one a home, you become responsible for training them to behave well.
So, when is it best to start training a puppy? The right answer is the sooner the better. Read on for the training tips you need from the moment you pick up your precious, new arrival.
Some Top Training Tips
Before starting on a training plan, here are some important factors to bear in mind:
- Training needs to be fun for both you and your puppy
- Teaching your dog how to behave helps create that unbreakable bond between you
- Base your technique on positive rewards, consistency, and patience
- Never punish your dog or physically force them
- Conduct training in quiet areas at first where there are few distractions
- Keep training sessions short!
You can begin some simple training once your new puppy has settled into their new home.
Positive Reinforcement Works Best
You should reward your puppy with something they want as soon as they do as you ask. This encourages them to repeat learned behavior. Small, tasty treats tend to work best.
Check with your vet for the best treats to use in order to avoid potential allergies. Remember to adapt the size of your dog’s meals to stop them from putting on weight.
Always add consistent verbal praise like, ‘Good dog’ when giving a reward, along with a physical pat. Keep training sessions short. 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day, is a good way to start.
Be Consistent and Never Punish a Puppy
When teaching a new command, reward your dog every time that they do as you ask. Once they consistently understand the command, reduce the frequency of the rewards. This helps your puppy to try harder.
Consistency also means sometimes having to stop what you’re doing, even when it’s inconvenient for you. If your puppy needs to go outside to relieve themselves, open the door and reward them for letting you know.
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Never use punishment as part of your puppy training. If you do, you will train your puppy to be afraid of you and to potentially become aggressive.
Puppies grow and learn in similar ways to very young children. They will make mistakes, learn at different speeds, and may not always understand what you are asking. Be patient and set up a consistent routine.
Some Basic Commands
You can start teaching your puppy the basics, including using a leash indoors, from around 7 weeks old. 5 basic commands are ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘stay’, ‘come,’ and an ability to walk nicely on the leash.
Training your puppy to sit:
- With the puppy standing in front of you, show them you have a treat in your hand
- Move your hand over their head and toward the tail giving the ‘sit’ command
- Your puppy’s head should go up and backside down as they try to reach the treat
- Once your puppy is in the ‘sit’ position, give them the treat
Do not push your puppy’s bottom down to make them sit as they are likely to push back and this could hurt them. Only use a simple ‘sit’ command. Do not confuse things by saying, ‘Sit down,’ for example.
Training your puppy to lie down:
- With your dog sitting, show them the treat in your hand
- Move your hand to the ground in front of them and say the command, ‘Down’
- Your puppy should follow your hand with their nose and lie down
- Give them the treat and lots of praise
You could use a chair or low table between you and your puppy to encourage them to lie down. Remove the obstacle once they get the hang of the exercise.
Training your puppy to stay:
- With your puppy sitting or lying down, ask them ‘stay’ and count to 3
- Step back to them and praise them
- Increase the distance you move away from them before making the command
When to Start House Training a Puppy
You should start house training when your puppy is around 3 months old. Before that, the muscles they need for going to the toilet have not fully developed. Always put your dog on a leash when you take them outdoors.
Keeping to a consistent, regular schedule lies at the heart of effective house training. Ensure to take your puppy out first thing in the morning and after eating as well as after naps during the day. Reward your puppy each time they go to the bathroom outside.
Learn the signals that indicate your puppy needs to relieve themselves. These could be sniffing, making circles, whining, or sitting by the door.
Always Check with Your Vet
Remember that your puppy should not be outside mixing with other dogs until they have completed their vaccination course. Always check with your vet if you’re unsure about the specific needs of your latest arrival.
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