“When should we start to train our new puppy?”
This is the question I hear almost every day and the answer is simple. It’s never too soon to begin training your puppy.
Most people want to jump into training all the typical things you think of related to dog training and begin teaching SIT and DOWN the day they bring their puppy home. There are some other things you can focus on, as well, that might not be as obvious. You can start right from day one to teach your puppy to have good manners.
So let’s get started on the right… paw! Begin by training the following:
1. House Training
Even though the process of house training isn’t very difficult, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Start with scheduling meals and water, confining your puppy to a small crate when you’re not able to watch him, and don’t have him go too long between potty breaks.
2. Obedience Training
Teaching your dog basic obedience commands is really important. Begin with sit and down. Also train name recognition. You can give your puppy a treat any time he looks at you after you have said his name. This will help you down the line when he knows that his name means for him to look at you. It will make training a lot of other behaviors easier.
3. Leash Walking
Train your puppy to wear a leash as soon as possible. Work on it inside and use treats for following you. Have clear rules about what is and is not allowed. It will never be cute for him to hold the leash in his mouth and it’s potentially dangerous since adult dogs could chew through a leash and get loose in a dangerous area. Don’t try to use the leash to force your puppy to move. Just get him used to having the leash attached to him and slowly introduce it as a way to get him to move in a specific direction. Remember to reinforce him when he responds appropriately to a little but of pressure. For example, if you pull gently to the right and your puppy goes right, give him a treat!
Establish what the rules are and then reinforce your puppy for following them. Correct your puppy when he doesn’t follow them. Be consistent. Be the one in charge! You’ll earn his respect in no time.
5. Puppy Socialization
Providing your puppy with ample, positive interactions with other dogs and new environments is critical in raising a healthy, balanced dog. Expose your young puppy to as many different sights, sounds, smells, textures, and experiences as you can before he is 3 months old. You’ll set him up for life if he has proper socialization when he is young. Be careful not to overwhelm him, but be consistent in introducing him to novel experiences.
6. Preventing Separation Anxiety
Teach your puppy to be alone. I know that he’s cute and everyone will always want to be around him. This is harder for you than for your puppy at this stage, but it’s critical he can learn to be along. Put him in his crate and walk away! Reinforce him for being calm and relaxed in your absence. Practice this while you are home and not just when you are leaving.
7. Preventing Resource and Food Guarding
Train your puppy to let you be near him or take away something he might want to guard and reward him for letting you do that. Practice this with food, toys, and bones. A good reward for letting you take something away without protest is a treat PLUS getting the thing you took away back. If you see any aggression or any precursors for aggression, contact a professional trainer as soon as possible. This behavior can be eliminated and it will always be easier the earlier you address it. It is dangerous to try to train your puppy yourself if you see any aggressive precursors. We work with people to fix this every day and we can help. Contact us or find a professional trainer here.
8. STOP…Biting, Jumping, Whining, Chewing
Is he allowed to jump when he’s excited to see you or whine if he wants your attention? You can teach a young puppy that his teeth are never allowed to touch your skin very easily. Follow well-defined rules for your puppy and highly reinforce him for getting them right. Correct him if he gets something wrong. Don’t make excuses for him because he is young. That will not be in his best interest. It’s okay to have high standards for his behavior and hold him accountable. Be consistent in always having him follow the rules you have established.[tweetthis]You can prevent a lot of common problems if you address them proactively.[/tweetthis]
If you focus on these few areas when you train your new puppy, you’ll be ahead of the pack. Most people don’t think to train these types of things. Most people only think about obedience training when they think about dog training. You can see there is a lot more to it than just obedience. Have fun. Remember, the sky is the limit! Don’t let your puppy get away with behaving in a way you would not want him to act as an adult. My puppies passed the Canine Good Citizen’s evaluation when they were 6 months old. It’s not hard and it doesn’t take a lot of time. You just have to be really clear about how you want your dog to act and then hold him accountable to those standards. Is there anything on this list you wish you had trained your dog when he was a puppy? Comment below and let me know why.