Are you bringing a new pup home? Then, get ready for grueling sessions of puppy training! The Furry Companion will give a rundown on training your soon-to-be mess makers! Well, they will only become mess makers if you delay their training. Puppies learn from every experience they have since birth; therefore, the best thing to do with your pup is to start training them young.
By the end of this article, you will have become a certified puppy-teer, a persuasive puppy whisperer, and a puppy drill sergeant rolled into one!
Why Should You Start Puppy Training
The puppy stage is more than a phase for warm cuddles and toothless nipping. As a furry parent, you have the responsibility to instill as many good behaviors in your pup as any other person. Puppy training allows your furry baby to become more obedient, independent, and, most importantly, potty-trained. In the end, it’s going to be you slaving away changing doggy diapers and washing down furniture.
First Impressions Matter
Even if doggos see in black and white, first impressions still matter. Welcoming your pup to an environment foreign to them will jar them. Your first interaction when you bring them home will create an image of you already.
Put yourself in your puppy’s paws. They are being weaned away from their mothers and transported to a different environment. You would want to be as warm and loving as possible and establish your role as the puppy parent. Set the tone as the caring furry parent you want to become.
Building Routine and Habits for Your Good Boy
Being home for even a few days builds a puppy’s expectations of their domestic lifestyle with you. Think of puppy training as a puppy boot camp where they will learn skills and habits essential for everyday life. They will learn when in the day are mealtime and playtime. They will slowly understand what actions they do get them “good boy” praises and yummy treats.
Puppies will also build a routine around their busy schedule of being house pups. Habit-building is essential because once your pup lives with etiquette and obedience, they will carry their good habits until they become adult dogs. This benefit comes with tireless hours of repetition and recalls to make it stick with your pups. They have a shorter attention span compared to older dogs, so puppy-teers would need to exercise patience and regular practice.
Snipping Bad Habits
Because they are very young and impressionable, it is easy to instill new habits on a blank slate. Like human beings, they learn habits from their environment. As they observe, little puppies might pick up a few bad habits along the way. So, it is always best to nip it in the bud. When handling difficult situations like this, sometimes putting down an iron fist is understandable. Later on, we will know what strategies to use when puppy training.
Puppy Training in Theory
The first thing is to lay all the basics before proceeding to the nitty-gritty of puppy training.
Choosing the Right Name
During puppy training, there will be a lot of name-calling and summoning. Choose a unique and befitting name for your pet. Keep it short and simple. You would not want to name your dog with a long string of names.
Baptizing your puppy with a name ending in sharp consonants allows your pet to hear their names. For example, names like Jack or Gussler are good choices. It is best to also associate your dog’s name with something positive and pleasant to hear.
Establish House Rules
Before bringing home a puppy, it is crucial to lay down the groundwork so that they can see which areas of the house are no-puppy zones. Is it allowed to sit on the bed or couch? Is it allowed to come inside the kitchen? Creating house rules helps us figure out what things to encourage and discourage.
Make Your Puppy Feel at Home
We would like for furry parents to check if their house has space ready for a puppy. Does the little pupper have its den or crate? Allowing them this comfort will make them feel at home. Dogs who have their crates learn how to relax in peace. They serve as cozy spaces where your dog can rest. If appropriately introduced to a young pup, this crate can serve as a safe space.
These dens are housetraining tools. Dogs ultimately like sleeping in cozy spaces like dens, and rarely do they urinate in them. Theoretically, providing a puppy with a den of its own gives it a sense of ownership. It prevents them from wetting in the house.
There are several types of dens you can choose from, but the best ones are where your dog fits perfectly. Choose a crate your dog can stand on all fours without hunching its back or hitting the crate’s roof. You may also choose from metal, wooden, or plastic materials. Make sure the crate or den has enough air ventilation and space. This fancy wooden dog house is a comfortable and aesthetic choice for small dogs. You may also opt for a cozy dog bed!
Place your dog’s den near the exit where they can have easy access to the outdoors to do their business. This tip is especially important for little puppies.
Puppy Training Drills
After getting acquainted with your pup and welcoming them to your home, it’s time to learn some drills! What can people teach their puppies to do? There are only a handful of tricks pups can do due to their short attention span. In drilling commands like this, the master and puppy should work hand in paw. Throughout this mini-boot camp, you will need to stock up on these things: crunchy doggie treats, puppy toys and patience.
Choose a suitable reinforcement your puppy cannot resist. Other alternative reinforcements to use instead of a treat maybe a toy or tug game—whatever your puppy is fond of most. Whatever the treat, it should be irresistible and reserved for puppy training exercises.
Ensure that your environment is distraction-free—no loud music, children, or other dogs to distract both of you during training. Once the ambience of the room is conducive to puppy training, you’re ready to do some drills! Here are some basic commands to teach your dog in puppy training.
A baby dog probably does not know the name you have given him yet, so this trick is a perfect way to build recall. This establishing point is a significant step in training you would not want to miss.
First, call your dog by its name then give them a treat. Your pup does not have to do anything but listen to its name.
Position yourself far from your dog. It doesn’t have to be so far. Just leave enough space for your dog to walk to you. After that, you can drop a bite-sized treat on the floor near you and call its name. When called, your puppy will come to you and eat the treat on the floor.
When he finishes the treat, call its name again to make him look up. If he does look up in recognition of his name, reward him with another treat, supportive pats, and cheers. Positive reinforcement is key to getting your dog to recognize good behavior.
The second option entails the use of a favourite toy. Begin by showing the toy to your pup, calling its name, and adding “Come!” Show your puppy a good time at training by running around for him to chase you instinctively. Once they have caught up to you, give them the treat and some pep talk. Do this exercise repeatedly throughout the week.
If ever your puppy does not come to you, do not pull him towards you nor punish him. This punishment will trigger an adverse reaction. More timid dogs require patience and coaxing. Don’t lose your cool because both of you are still learning.
Loose Leash Walk
Walking with your dog is an easy and enjoyable exercise. After putting on the collar, make sure to pick a suitable command for this activity. Some owners use the words heel, forward, or let’s go to start the walk. Whatever term you choose, stick with it every time you go for a walk with your puppy. Furthermore, keep your dog on either the left or right side consistently. Do not keep switching sides.
Make sure to hold the leash loosely by your side. If your dog is tall enough, its head should ideally be level with your knee. Make sure they walk beside you and not in front of or behind you.
Walking with a leash around its neck for the first time might be uncomfortable. The way around this is to provide treats whenever you put on the leash. Lead them to stand beside you, and give him a treat if he does so without a sweat. As he walks in sync with you, give him more treats, and begin to make the treats sparser.
If he happens to run in front of you, try turning the other direction and call him so he can follow. Reward him if he does so. Take your time when walking your dog, and do not be in such a rush. Allow your pet to smell the flowers and take in the ambience of the great outdoors. You can always say the cue signalling that it’s time to go and shower him with rewards and praise.
In any obedience training manual, this doggy trick is one of the originals. Using a method called capturing, instruct your doggo to sit bit by bit. Begin by standing in front of your dog, showing the treat, and waiting for your puppy to sit. If it obeys, say “yes” and proceed by giving it a treat. Move elsewhere and call him. Wait for him to sit again before rewarding his participation. After a few successful trials with “yes,” you may replace the command with “sit.”
Another method for teaching your dog to sit uses the strategy called luring. This style entails placing the treat in front of your dog’s nose. Raise it above its head, so it instinctively looks up and moves its bottom to settle on the floor. Then, feed him the treat! Repeat these exercises for a few turns and begin with using the sit command.
It is important not to force your dog to a sitting position. Pushing it down to sit may confuse your pet.
The next on our puppy training list is teaching a dog to stay. Dogs are innately loyal creatures, but they move around a lot. Sometimes it gets challenging to make them stay! For this exercise, you will need the cue word “Stay” and a release word allowing them to get up. The strategy here is to teach him the release word first.
Begin in a sitting or standing position with your dog. Toss the treat away from you and say the chosen release word. Do this repeatedly until you feel you can proceed to the next level. Switch up the arrangement and announce the release word first, then toss the treat only after its starts to move its tiny little legs.
Once your doggo has a good grasp of the release word and the sit command, you may teach him how to stay. Put him in a sit position, then turn and give him a treat. Stop for a while and reward him with a treat if he stays. Release him and throw him a treat. Gradually prolong the waiting time in the subsequent runs by stepping away from him to see if he stays. A few more reruns and you will have him staying in no time.
If your dog moves before you signal him the release word, then stick to the shorter waiting time first until he perfects it. It’s no biggie. It’s a learning process.
Lie Down, Good Boy!
Following the capturing and the luring strategies during the sitting command, a master can guide his dog to lie down snugly. Capture every time he lies down by giving him the treat to reinforce this exercise. Give him the release word so that he stands up after lying down. If he does this quickly already, use another keyword like “down.”
The luring method involves the owner placing a treat to his nose and bringing the treat down to the floor, causing the dog to follow the movement. Give the treat when your dog’s elbows have touched the floor. Follow this up by trying it without the treat. Use your empty fist to lure him to the ground and give him the treat only after he lies down. After a few repetitions, you may already use the cue to lie down.
Puppy Training Secrets
The secrets to successful puppy training are consistency, repetition, focus, and a whole lot of treats. Puppy training is a gradual process, and there is no need to rush things when training your dog. Like humans, they too learn at their own pace.
As puppies gradually learn the exercises, it helps to practice and repeat them for weeks on end. Establishing puppy training stations ensures you push through with the training and syncs with the dog’s routine. Training time for puppies usually lasts for 5 minutes, tops. Once you are sure you have control of them and shift their focus to you, you may lengthen your practice duration.
What happens if they’re out of control or distracted? Do not lose your cool! You need to be strategic about these things. If a distraction-free environment is not enough for your energetic pup, you can schedule training near mealtime as a reinforcement. The old school leash-jerk style wherein owners pull on the attached leash to get the dog to focus is frowned upon these days. Here is where reward training comes in to reinforce good behavior. We cannot stress this enough. During exercise, the reward must be irresistible to encourage their focus and participation.
Another tip for puppy training is to avoid saying “no.” During training like this, we want sessions to be as positive and reinforcing as possible. If you catch your dog doing the wrong thing, do not say no. Instead, redirect their action. A stronger reinforcement is to say “Yes!” Good puppy-teers find opportunities to praise their dog and communicate to them the great job they have done. This shift in words will help them better understand the actions they should do.
We hope this guide has prepared you to become the puppy training drill sergeant you aim to become! Things are different when put into practice, so go and train your pup. Don’t forget to give your puppy warm hugs. It’s as much a reward for us as it is for them.
As a Marketing graduate, Stephenie believes in the beautiful fusion of science and the arts. When she isn’t rewatching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. for the umpteenth time, she writes, volunteers for different outreach programs, and attempts to exercise. Steph aspires to be a Persian or ragdoll cat mom in the future.