Puppy training tips
Training your new puppy can seem like a lot of work, but it can also be very rewarding too. It’s important to start out training your puppy in a quiet area with few distractions and work up to more public places as obedience becomes more reliable.
- Keep sessions short (5 min), and lengthen them as the pup gets older, with a longer attention span.
- Be precise and use the same commands every time.
- Give each command only once.
- Avoid double commands such as “sit down” to avoid confusing your pup.
- Practice a little each day and build obedience into your every day routine (e.g. puppy sites and waits for things he wants like treats, walks, etc., or Puppy does down-stay at your side while you eat breakfast).
- Discourage puppy from chewing things other than toys; say NO! firmly and as soon as Puppy quits, offer him a toy, then praise him as he starts to chew the toy. (Note: puppies are generally teething and are notorious chewers between 4-6 months of age, so provide plenty of safe chew toys and don’t leave your pup alone with your furniture or other valuables)!
- Discourage excessive barking: use the “enough” command to stop this behavior. If Pup ignores you and continues to bark, give a quick leash pop if on leash or interrupt barking with a noise correction method such as shaking a can full of pennies. Each time you shake the can, repeat “enough” in order to teach the command. Praise him as soon as the barking stops.
- Leash training: be gentle and make it fun! Let your pup drag the leash, then let him lead you, and finally put gentle pressure on the leash to lead him. If he balks, crouch and call/entice toys and treats. If he balks again or panics, go back to step One.
- Take your puppy for car rides in good weather, but never leave any animal alone in a car during warm weather. Also never transport a puppy/dog unrestrained in the back of a truck.
Note: puppies generally go through “Fear periods” from 8-10 weeks of age and not at 16-24 weeks. During these periods, your pup may suddenly act scared of things that formerly didn’t spook him. Do not pet your pup and coo to him when he is acting scared (as natural as this seems). Your pup will interpret your behavior as saying there is something to be afraid of and will become more fearful. Instead, act nonchalant and ignore the puppy’s fearful reaction (sending the message that this “monster” is nothing to be afraid of). Be careful not to expose your pup to anything too new and scary during these vulnerable periods.
- It’s ok to spoil your pup—just be sure to train it too!
- Before your pup finishes his vaccinations, socialize him by inviting guests (especially kids) over to your house to cuddle and gently play with your pup. Have guests remove their shoes outside your door to lessen the risk of them transmitting parvovirus to your pup via contaminated shoe soles.
- After your pup finishes his vaccinations, consider enrolling him in a local obedience training class or continue training it at home with books/videos until he knows his basic commands. Then practice in public places like parks, playgrounds, etc. This way, he learns to obey you even when there are interesting distractions around. Have friendly strangers pet him. Arrange “puppy parties” with friends who have healthy, vaccinated, friendly dogs. Take your pup to willing friends’ homes and anywhere you can safely accustom him to traveling and being comfortable in new places.
- Dogs are pack animals. Your puppy needs and wants you (even when he is acting like a bratty teenager) to be a clear, firm, loving leader. If you do not lead your puppy, he will try to lead you and that’s when the problems start (e.g. Biting/running away, struggling when being groomed, etc.).
- There are many different methods for training your pup. Use methods that make sense to you, are clear and fair, and won’t harm your pup mentally or physically. Have fun, keep things simple and be patient. Reward frequently with play, toys, treats, petting and praise! Be gentle, firm, consistent.
- Never hit your puppy- with your hand or anything else (recycle the rolled up newspaper!) Generally a sharp “No!” and a hard stare will stop your pup’s naughtiness. If your pup is very naughty (growls/nips) a leash correction (a short, quick jerk and release) should get your point across. Do not hesitate to call a professional trainer for help if you cannot seem to correct your pup on your own. Many behavioral problems can be prevented or corrected if they are addressed early.
- Use games to keep it fun: once your pup has a grasp on his commands, use games to reinforce and make training fun. Use “hide and seek” by pup sit-stay while a partner hides, then release the pup with “ok” to find the person hiding.
- Above all, spend as much time with your puppy as possible, especially during his first year. Your goal should be to build a close, solid, trusting relationship with your puppy. This is the foundation of any good training program and will lead to a life-long rewarding relationship between you and your dog. All the effort you put into your pup during this time will come back to you many times over during his lifetime!
Teach his/her name
Reward him every time you say his name and he looks at you. Call it each time you feed him (even if he is standing next to you).
Get him/her used to being gently groomed and examined. Gradually work toward being able to look in his ears, eyes and mouth. Handle his entire body, especially his feet. Begin grooming him by brushing his hair, teeth and trimming his toenails. Use treats, praise and play as rewards. Have your friends handle your puppy in the same manner so that he will not be traumatized by his first visits to the veterinarian and groomer.
Introduce your puppy to his crate
you can begin by feeding him near, then in, his crate and putting toys in the crate. The crate is his “room”. Ideally, your pup should sleep in his crate in your room at night. The crate can then be moved into other rooms during the day and can travel with you on trips. Establish a housebreaking routine immediately using a crate and strict feeding/exercise/playing schedule. It is extremely important to put every effort into properly housebreaking your pup. It can be difficult to retrain an adult dog that was not properly housebroken as a puppy.
Teach to accept petting while eating
Your pup should allow you to handle his food dish while he is eating. Begin by putting treats into his dish while he is eating. When your pup accepts this, briefly take his dish and add a treat to it (within the puppy’s view) so he views your hands in his food dish as a good thing. Have your child do this exercise (with your careful supervision). In fact, if possible, have your kids take turns feeding the puppy.
Say “ouch” loudly and snatch your hand away, giving your pup the idea that human skin is very delicate. If this doesn’t work, say “No” loudly, flick the pup under its chin with your finger, immediately offer a chew toy and praise pup for mouthing it, instead of your hand.
Teach to stay alone
Exercise your pup before you leave to tire him, then after taking it out to relieve itself, leave Pup in his crate or pen with some interesting toys. Leave for short periods at first, gradually lengthening the time you are gone. Keep your departures and arrivals low key; making them “no big deal” to your pup. You can also try leaving the radio/TV on for company or hire a responsible kid to come play with your pup if you are going to be gone for several hours.
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