Having a puppy isn’t all sunshine and roses. Having a puppy can be hard. Puppies are babies, and they don’t always know how to do things that their humans will approve of. That is why patience and training are key things that you need when you have a new puppy on your hands.
Training a puppy isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it gets a lot easier when you are well informed. For that reason, we’ve written this guide to training your puppy. Pretty soon you’ll be getting Rover to sit with just one small indication!
The Importance of Training Your Puppy
Training your puppy is vital for their early development. You may be thinking that you can just let your dog run the house, but that won’t be a good thing for you or your new family member.
Puppy training benefits you and your dog. You can learn to understand your dog a lot better when you train them. You can even get some great exercise and learn a lot from training your puppy. A well-behaved dog is one that can go pretty much anywhere with you.
One of the most important things about training your puppy is that it helps to keep them safe. If your puppy is unrestrained then it’s vital that they respond to voice commands. A dog that’s off-leash and doesn’t listen when you’re outdoors is much more likely to escape the house, run in front of cars and get into all sorts of other dangers.
Training your dog also helps to improve their social skills. You’ll reap a lot of rewards from training your dog. Basically, there are far more reasons to put time into training your pet than there are to just leave them to their own devices.
Starting off with training your puppy can often be the hardest part. If you’re a first-time dog owner then you may not be sure where to start. Well, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are getting started with training your dog.
The Earlier You Start, The Better
Your puppy’s early development helps to create the foundations for a well-behaved dog in later life. What you do at this stage can have a large impact on your dog’s adult life. As such, it’s always better to start training as early as possible for the best results.
When you bring your puppy home, it’s always a good idea to start teaching them straight away. Puppies will learn fast while they are young, much like children! You don’t need to do long sessions of training at first either. Training your dog can be as simple as positive reinforcement for behaviors that you want to encourage. You can keep sessions to two minutes long and then gradually increase the training time. Try to do around five or six sessions every single day.
On the flip side, you also need to teach your dog what things they can’t do. Ignore any unwanted behavior, or firmly interrupt certain behaviors with the word no. There’s no need for violence – most dogs won’t respond to violence or shouting anyway.
Some basic things that you can teach your dog when they are young include house training, sit, stay and how to respond to their name. When your pup has learned the basics, you can then introduce them to more challenging commands.
Take On Some Programs That Can Help You Train Your Dog
As we have established, training a puppy can be really difficult, especially if you have never done it before. That is why it can be helpful to do some programs that will help you to train your dog. These will teach you the kinds of skills that you need to ensure that your dog remains well-behaved.
So how do you find a good dog training class? It’s always a good idea to start by checking that the class is run by a qualified instructor. This means looking for someone that is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, or CPDT-KA for short. You can find out more here about how to become a dog trainer.
Look for a class that will be suitable for your dog’s age and temperament. Figure out what kind of class will work for you, since there are dedicated drop-in classes or you can get programs. Finally, look for a class held indoors since this will mean that your dog is dealing with the smallest number of distractions.
Many classes for beginners simply start with the basics. You will be taught some of the key cues, including recall, leave it, stay, down, sit, hand targeting, and skills for when your dog is on the leash. The classes are usually a great opportunity to see how your dog will respond in a class full of other dogs, too. It can help to make your dog more sociable and expose them to other animals, which is vital for making your dog more well-rounded as they grow older.
There are also specialty classes. These are useful if your dog has any specific behavioral issues. For instance, they can focus on fear, leash reactivity, agility, and more. Ultimately, classes are a great starting point if you aren’t familiar with dog training. You can look on websites like Facebook for dog classes near you, or you could even ask for recommendations from friends or family members. Just ensure that the class is the right fit for both you and your dog.
Or Consider Hiring A Professional
If you have a little bit of extra money at your disposal, then there’s no better investment than hiring a dog trainer. Dog trainers are a huge asset for a wide variety of different reasons. For instance, they can help you to learn how to communicate properly with your dog. Dog trainers know how to communicate with dogs better than most humans. Professionals can also help you to solve any problems. Is your dog destroying your kitchen cupboards when you’re away? A dog trainer can help you to get to the bottom of the issue.
Is your dog eliminating in places that they should not be? Then your dog trainer can help you to rectify the issue. They can teach you tips and tricks on how to train your puppy, making them a valuable asset in the training process.
Finding the right dog trainer is vital. A dog trainer that doesn’t know what they’re doing is going to be no help to you – you will simply be wasting your money. Instead, make sure that you ask plenty of questions when looking for a dog trainer. Make sure that the trainer uses positive reinforcement training. Ask about the trainer’s methods and how they like to train dogs.
Make sure that you communicate openly about your needs. Different trainers will offer different services, so you need the right person to help you with your unique puppy. These private lessons are usually very helpful for dogs that may be a little more difficult and won’t adjust well to a large puppy training class.
It’s worth noting that expensive dog training programs or professionals aren’t necessarily the best choice. Dog training to a high standard does not happen overnight, so be wary of anyone that claims super-fast results. Give the class or trainer a lot of consideration before spending your money.
Just to better understand what professional dog trainers are doing, you can get some dog training books to get up to speed.
Get the Basics Right in Six Weeks
If you want to have an obedient dog, you can usually get them to learn most of the basics in a mere six weeks if you are patient. Of course, to achieve results in this amount of time, you need to have a well-structured training program to help you out. In a program like this, you should choose one to two commands that you can work on every week. You can then add more commands as time goes on, and gradually adjust the program based on how your puppy responds and based on any problem areas that they may have.
Some things that you will need for your six-week training program include toys and a crate. Creating a routine will help you when it comes to teaching your dog the basics too.
If you aren’t sure what basics you need to teach to your dog, read on for the main ones that your dog has to know. We also have a post dedicated completely to the best dog training techniques and not just for puppies.
Steps to Training Your Puppy
Training a puppy is a lot easier to do when you break it into steps. Try not to teach too many things at one time as this can confuse your puppy. These are just a few of the basic commands that you should be teaching your dog, broken into steps.
House And Crate Training
House and crate training are perhaps some of the most important things you can do when you first get your puppy. This is a pretty big topic though, so we’re going to break it down into two individual aspects: house training, and crate training.
Crate Training Your Puppy
A lot of people hesitate to crate train their puppies, thinking that it’s cruel. As it happens though, crates are pretty good for your dog. Dogs will usually look for small spaces that they can use to create shelters. They are places where your dog can feel safe, they’re very important for emergencies and they are especially useful for training puppies. It is for this reason that many veterinarians and trainers will recommend crate training dogs while they are still very young. It also leads directly to housebreaking puppies, since dogs aren’t keen on soil in the place where they sleep.
There are some things that you should remember. A crate shouldn’t be used as a form of punishment – it needs to be a safe space for your pet. Try not to leave them in the crate for too long either, as this can harm their mental health. Your puppy in particular shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three to four hours.
Crate training doesn’t need to be difficult either. You can break it into a few key steps, though it’s important to have patience. New situations can be hard to adjust to for puppies, so give it time
The first thing to do is to familiarize your dog with its crate. Put it in a location where people tend to hang out, such as in the lounge. You should put something soft like a blanket or towel in there and allow them to explore it in their own time. Some dogs will take to it instantly, others may not.
If your dog doesn’t go to it straight away, try to encourage them to go to the open crate using a positive tone of voice. You can drop small treats close to the crate to get them to enter. Eventually, you can drop them inside of the crate. Don’t be alarmed if they don’t go in straight away. Eventually, they will go in there without coercion.
2. Meal Time in Crates
When your dog is familiar with the crate, you should then be giving them meals close to the crate. It’s a positive association, meaning your dog is more likely to associate the crate with positive things. If they are still anxious, just push it in a little bit. You can push it further back as they adjust. Eventually, you can close the door for a while. After a while, they should stay in there for around 10 minutes even after they’ve stopped eating.
3. Increase the Time
Your dog will soon be used to the crate so you can increase the time they are confined in there. Sit close to the crate as they sit in there for 5 to 10 minutes. Eventually, this will increase to 30 minutes even when you’re out of their field of vision. This will allow you to leave them alone in there for a couple of hours, but it may take time to get to that point.
Crate the dog when you leave the house, giving them some toys and treats to occupy them while you are gone. You can crate them for a short while before you leave too. Don’t fuss your dog too much before you leave. If you wish to do so, you can crate your dog during the night.
Make sure that you’re not giving in to whining either unless it’s clear that they are whining because they want to relieve themself. It may be difficult, but with time your dog will adjust.
House Training Your Puppy
House training is another important thing to teach your dog. Nobody likes to be cleaning urine and fecal matter from the furniture, after all. In fact, as we mentioned above, crates can be a beneficial tool when you are crate training your puppy.
In essence, a dog doesn’t like to sleep in areas that are soaked in their urine. Make sure that they have a crate just big enough to turn around, lie down and stand up. A crate that’s too big may demonstrate to your dog that they can just urinate in a corner of the crate.
When your dog starts to whine or scratch, this may be an indication that they are ready to go to the bathroom. Let them out and direct them towards the right place for them to do their business.
You can also use puppy pads to show your dog that they can do their business in a spot that has been approved in your home. As they get older, you can then gradually begin to move the pad closer to the outdoors until they are going outdoors instead. Make sure that you are observing your puppy for any signs that they need to go to the bathroom. Praise them for going to the toilet in the right place. Be sure to troubleshoot any issues that may arise as you go along.
However, if you have a cat then you might want to keep their bathroom habits separate. Get a dog-proof litter box for your cat so the dog can’t go nosing around the unhealthy litter.
Going on walks together is one of the most enjoyable things about having a dog! First, though, you need to leash train your dog. The problem is that a lot of dogs don’t know how to walk on a leash without misbehaving unless you teach them. For that reason, you should start leash training your dog as soon as you can.
Teaching your dog to walk on a leash doesn’t have to be difficult. You can start by allowing them to adjust to wearing a collar or harness for the first time. Allow them to wear it for small periods, and give them treats. Help them to associate the collar and leash with positive things.
You can then call your dog over to you and reward them when they come to you. You should use a clicking noise or some sound association that they’ll remember when doing this. Practice calling your dog and walking with them as they wear the collar and leash. After they adjust to this, you can then introduce them to walking outdoors. This can be a bit more challenging since there are a lot of distractions outdoors. If your dog looks like they’re about to jump at something, you can then make the sound mentioned above and move away. Give them a treat if they follow you.
If you find that your dog is pulling, then simply stop. Don’t move until your dog comes back to you. Yanking or jerking the leash isn’t going to help, neither is dragging your dog along with you. There are likely to be other issues on your walks too, such as distractions that cause your pet to lunge or bark. Redirecting their attention using positive reinforcement can be very beneficial.
Proper socialization is an important skill for your dog! You should start socializing your puppy when they are young, ideally between 3 and 12 weeks of age. You can also use socialization classes when they get to around 7 to 8 weeks old after they have had their vaccinations. It’s important to keep socializing with your dog and introducing them to any new situations while they are still young.
Puppy socialization is vital because it will result in a dog that’s much better behaved, more relaxed, and safer. It helps to avoid the chance of your dog getting into dangerous situations.
There are several ways that you can socialize your puppy. You can do puppy playdates, classes or you can socialize them at home. Get them familiar with children, other dogs, and things like new sounds, sights, and feelings.
Don’t force too much too soon though. Make sure all interactions are positive and give your pup praise and treats when they show good manners. Try to stay calm, and slowly introduce your dogs to new situations and people. This is much better than overwhelming your dog.
One of the most useful tools in your training arsenal is going to be the clicker. This is a type of training based on rewards. The clicker makes a sound and dispenses treats. Therefore, your dog will learn to associate the clicking sound with something that they like. The clicker is the reward after a while.
This method of training can be very helpful, and eventually, the sound of the clicker on its own is enough to get a positive response from your dog – you don’t even need the treats to follow. This method of training can often help your dog to learn more quickly as they will know exactly what you are rewarding them for.
It can often help to get someone that’s Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) accredited to help you to learn clicker training, but you can also do it on your own.
When you first start with clicker training, make sure that the click is followed by a reward so your dog sees it as a positive thing and makes that association. Don’t point the clicker at them – instead, keep it behind your back or to your side. It shouldn’t be used as a way to help you to get your dog’s attention. It should always be a way to tell them that they’ve done a good thing. Click one time for every behavior that you want to reward, and click it at the very behavior that you want them to do. Don’t do clicker training for more than 15 minutes at a time to avoid overwhelming your dog.
Clicker training can be used to train your dog to do a lot of things, from their basic commands to more complicated things.
The next thing that your dog needs to learn is how to do the basic commands. These are pretty simple and form the foundation of your dog’s training in many respects. These are sit, stay, and down.
Begin in a quiet place in your home that doesn’t have any distractions. Have a few rewards at the ready – the clicker can help with this!
Hold a treat in front of your dog and then move it up on top of their head. This will encourage them to sit. You can then give them the treat for doing this. When they have done this a couple of times, you can then use the word sit to teach them the command. Give them a treat when they respond appropriately to the command. Be firm in saying the command, and give them plenty of praise for the positive action.
After some time and practice, your dog will then know the sit command, which can be useful for instilling some discipline and self-control into your dog.
When you have taught your dog to stay, you can then move on to the stay command. To do this, first, start by telling them to sit. Then give them a hand signal, such as a palm facing your dog to indicate for them to stop. Don’t give your dog the treat just yet! Say the word stay and then give your dog the treat, so long as they are still sitting. Make sure that you repeatedly practice this.
Gradually increase the distance between you and your pet. Take one step back at a time, and give them the treat if they stay in the same place without moving. Make sure that you are practicing this command regularly, and gradually increase the time that you ask your dog to stay. Reward your dog before they have the chance to stop the stay.
Finally, teach them to lie down. Wait for them to lie down and then give them a treat. Give him a treat every time that he lies down. Eventually, you can add in the ‘down’ command, much like you would with the sit command.
You also need to make sure that you are proofing any behaviors that you teach to your dog. They need to know how to respond to the commands that you are giving them in any environment and situation. Start introducing distractions into your training, gradually introducing more distractions as time goes on. Practice the commands outdoors in dog parks, the vet’s office, and more. Train them for around 10 minutes at a time with each command and have some patience – this isn’t something that they will learn overnight.
Some dogs are smarter than others. The smartest dog breeds can learn a command once and still remember it in six months. When the trainer shows results with a border collie, then you should ask to see some of the results with a Beagle or Bulldog.
Teach Your Puppy To Recognize Its Name When Called
Training recall is important, and it starts with teaching your dog their name. If your dog comes to you when called, give them a treat. Put the treat on the ground next to you and then call their name – allow them to eat it and then call them again. If they look at you, give them a treat. Keep on doing this until you are tossing the treat further away and they begin to turn around and look at you.
Every time that your dog gives you an indication that they are listening to their name and responding, give them a treat. You can even make it into a game! Eventually, you can teach them recall when out on walks and around more distractions.
When you are training your dog at home then you can give them a bigger reward after the training session is over. For example, a bowl of bone broth for dogs will make almost any dog ecstatic.
Advanced Dog Training
When your dog has learned the basics, you can then move on to the most advanced behaviors. At this point, it may be helpful to get your dog involved in a dog training class or get them to work with an advanced dog trainer, as this will help tremendously.
Some of the advanced commands include the following:
- Put away
- Watch me
- Drop it
- Elimination on command
- Distanced commands
When you have done these you can even go further, teaching your dog to play dead, kiss, peekaboo, yawn, shake hands, and more. This can be a lot of fun when you’re showing off your dog’s skills to your friends and family!
Now you are ready to start training your puppy
Training your puppy can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. It’s like one step forward and two steps back sometimes! It is important to have patience, though. These things can take time and it really will be worth it in the end. Eventually, you will have a disciplined and obedient dog that you can rely on to do as you command.
Of course, it’s important to note that you don’t need to suffer alone if you are struggling with training your dog. If you aren’t sure what to do and you need a little bit of extra help, you can speak to a professional like an animal behaviorist for help. With time, patience, and a lot of love, you are sure to reap the rewards of your training sessions.