Puppy Training Tips
Congratulations! You just got a brand-new puppy! This little guy is the newest member of your family, and you’re thrilled to have him in the fold. Dogs are, after all, man’s best friend.
Everyone loves to have cuddle parties with your little pup. He’s a complete joy for the family to play with outside. The pup has actually become a family mascot of sorts – he represents innocent joy, constant excitement, and wonder as he explores his new world.
The furniture is starting to show little tears and scratches along the bottom from the puppy jumping and pawing at it. The puppy has been chewing, too, and now your shoes have holes along the toes. To make matters worse, the pup simply doesn’t understand you when you tell it to sit, or stay, or calm down, and every time you punish the puppy, it seems to only behave worse!
Not to worry – we have the proper puppy training tips and tricks needed to turn your puppy-related frown upside down.
Getting a new pup can be one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. There’s just something so wonderful about their big puppy eyes, their heartfelt adoration, jubilant demeanor - and of course their adorable puppy antics.
So what’s a new puppy owner – or even seasoned dog owners – to do? Start with a tried and true puppy training guide to get your household back in order and develop a lifelong relationship with your new puppy.
Puppies respond to praise. One of the most difficult hurdles for many new dog owners to get over is the fact that positive reinforcement works a hundred times better than negative reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement in dog training can go by many names, most of which are valid and worthy: reward-based training, science-based training, force-free or pain-free training, etc. Regardless of the terminology, the general theory behind this line of thinking remains the same.
So what’s the big deal about whether or not to do positive or negative reinforcement? A pat on the head and a treat will have a stronger impact on your dog’s behavior and training than a loud yell and a smack on the rear.
One teaches fear and causes anxiety and a whole host of other problems, the other encourages your dog to continue to do the right thing to earn more treats and praise. It doesn’t matter what you’re training them to do, positive reinforcement just works better. Reward your dog for good behavior. This is perhaps the single most important puppy training tip to remember as your puppy grows.
Be consistent. Puppies need to feel secure and consistency will not only help them learn the rules more quickly, it will help them feel more secure in your home. This is important because a dog that feels safe and secure will not only behave better, they’ll trust you more easily and will learn faster during dog training sessions.
The same applies to Puppy Obedience Training. When training your puppy, stay consistent. Stay on schedule. Block out training times for your puppy’s needs, and stick to those time slots. It can be tempting to run longer, but puppies only have so much attention that they can give before they need to let more energy out or get a break. Puppy Obedience Training will progress as planned, and your dog won’t be upset by schedule changes or loss of attention, for the most part.
Remember to stick to that schedule. Be consistent in all things. This includes potty training, leash-walking, positive reinforcement, feeding your puppy, and otherwise. Doing so will prevent confusion in the puppy as to what behaviors to follow, as well. Consistency will make training your puppy surprisingly easy.
Establish a top dog, quickly. Your puppy will be looking to find their place in the pack. The sooner you establish your role as the leader and dog trainer, the easier it will be. Now this doesn’t mean grabbing your puppy, throwing them on their back and growling at them. It’s more of the realization that you are the one with the leash in your hands. Your dog isn’t the one holding the leash. However, you should also realize that you are also responsible for taking care of your puppy.
As pack leader, it’s up to you to set rules and limitations for your dog. They are looking to their human alpha leader for consistent guidance and behavior you deem appropriate. A stable relationship is created when your dog understands what you expect from them.
It means being the one to feed them, to take them outside to go to the bathroom, to place them in their crate and to train them. You can most often establish your role as the leader without resorting to alpha dog tactics.
Start training your puppy right away. If getting on the couch is not allowed, don’t let them get on the couch ever. It’s tempting to let them sit with you on the couch when they’re so cute and small, but you’re establishing a confusing pattern right from the get go. Decide what the rules are, begin training them immediately, and stick to your guns.
Socialize. If I had to give just a few puppy training tips, I would definitely include socialization as one of them. One of the most important and useful puppy training tips is to make sure your dog is well socialized. A well-socialized puppy will be able to easily go for walks on the leash, without needing a dog trainer constantly supervising it!
This can be accomplished in the early weeks and months of their life by exposing them to new people and situations. In the long run being well socialized will mean your puppy will obey your commands in any environment. This is important for their safety and of course will make life with a dog much easier.
Young puppies should be cuddled and handled daily by as many different people as possible. Keep the contact gentle and pleasant for the puppy. Hold the puppy in different positions, gently finger her feet, rub her muzzle, stroke her back and sides, look in her ears.
Acclimate your puppy to lots of different sounds, being careful not to overwhelm him with too much noise too fast. Expose him to kitchen sounds, telephones ringing, children playing, sportscasters yelling on TV, radios playing, buses moving by, and so on.
Introduce your puppy to new people
Introduce your puppy to several new people every day, keeping the interactions pleasant and unthreatening. Keep your puppy on a leash to keep a level of control on the situation. Focus especially on setting up pleasant encounters with unfamiliar men and well-behaved children.
Take your puppy on a walk to the park – just remember to keep a leash handy! Take it to the dog park, too. It will meet other dogs of all ages, and the social experiences that it has will be very influential on how well it behaves in the future.
Next up, we’ll look at some puppy training tips for potty training your puppy.
Potty Training Your Puppy
Potty training is one of the most extensive and frustrating parts of training your puppy. Luckily for you, we have some helpful puppy training tips and tricks to get the job done!
Having your dog go outside is the ideal solution, but potty-pads can sometimes play a role in successful potty training.
A potty-pad is a liquid-absorbent pad that can be used as a “designated potty area” for your happy little pet. For example, with very young puppies it’s necessary to make frequent trips outside. That might be too challenging for elderly owners or apartment dwellers.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a backyard and your dog’s toilet area is a public place, you might want to limit your puppy’s exposure until he’s fully vaccinated. So, if you want to include potty pads in your puppy’s house training routine, read on for puppy training tips on how to potty train a puppy on pads.
It’s easy to get frustrated with your new puppy when potty training is taking longer than you expected. But it’s essential to be patient during this process. Remember, potty training takes time. Don’t expect more from your puppy than he is able to deliver. The following points will help you keep your cool:
A pup can’t control his bladder until he is 16 weeks old. So as much as you might like him to wait, he simply can’t.
A puppy can only hold his bladder as long as his age in months plus one hour. So, a four-month-old puppy can only hold it for five hours. That includes during the night as well.
Every breed is different. For example, a toy breed might need more frequent potty breaks due to a fast metabolism and tiny bladder.
Every pup is different, even within breeds. Your first puppy might have been potty trained in a few weeks, but your next one might need months.
Supervise at All Times
It’s important to watch your puppy at all times for safety, but this is also the key to successful potty training. You can’t prevent accidents if you don’t have your eyes on the dog. Here are some puppy training tips to help with supervision:
Take your puppy to the potty pad frequently. How often will depend on his age and bladder strength. For very young puppies, it could be as often as every 15 minutes. Better a wasted trip than an accident.
Watch your puppy for telltale signs he has to go such as sniffing the ground, circling, or whining. When you see those signs, take him straight to the potty pad.
Use a long leash if you are having trouble keeping your pup in sight. Tie the leash to heavy furniture or around your waist to limit your puppy’s movements.
Put your puppy in a crate or a safe area whenever you can’t supervise him.
Use a Crate
A crate is an important potty training tool because dogs don’t like to soil where they sleep. Plus, a strong denning instinct means that if you introduce a crate properly, your puppy will see it as his safe space rather than a punishment. Keep the following in mind when introducing a crate to your puppy:
Choose an appropriately sized crate. Your pup should be able to lie down and turn around but with no extra room. If the crate is too large, your puppy can use one end as a toilet which will delay potty training.
Use dividers with a larger crate. If you buy a crate for your dog’s adult size, dividers can help the crate “grow” with your pup.
Associate the crate with wonderful things. If you put treats in the crate, feed your puppy at the back of the crate, and leave food-stuffed chew toys in the crate, your puppy will learn to love it.
Reward your puppy for going in his crate. He will be happy to go inside if it’s a rewarding place to be. Although a crate is great for a quiet time out, don’t use it for punishment.
Take your puppy straight to his potty pad whenever you let him out of his crate.
Reward With Praise and Treats
Dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarding and doing their business in the right spot is no different. If you reward your pup with praise and treats whenever he uses his potty pad, he will be more likely to use it again in the future. Keep the following in mind when rewarding your puppy:
Keep a bowl or bag of treats beside the potty area so you are always prepared.
Use a leash if your puppy is easily distracted. Walk him to the potty pad on a leash and only unclip him after he’s done his business. The freedom to play will be a bonus reward.
Switch From Pads to the Outdoors
When it’s time to transition your puppy from potty pads to the outdoors, many of the tips above can be applied in the same way. Simply take your puppy outside rather than to his pad. This advice can help along the way:
Teach your puppy a potty cue like “Hurry Up” or “Go Potty.” Start by using the cue whenever your puppy is about to go, and then reward him as soon as he finishes. With enough repetition, you will be able to ask your puppy to go where and when it’s convenient for you, including in the outdoor toilet area.
Move the potty pad outside. Only move it a small distance each day so you don’t confuse your puppy. First, you must work toward the door to the outside, then to just outside that door, then slowly to the final outdoor location.
Decrease the size of the potty pad once it’s outside. Some puppies will catch on quickly, particularly with the help of potty cues, but if your puppy is struggling, cut the potty pad smaller and smaller until he’s using the ground instead.
Handle Accidents Calmly
It’s human nature to look for what’s wrong and take what’s right for granted. But we need to do the complete opposite with our puppies. Always reward and praise good behavior and ignore the things that go wrong. This is especially true with potty training accidents. Bathroom mistakes are inevitable with puppies, so please don’t overreact and frighten or punish your pup.
Here are some tips for handling potty accidents:
Interrupt your puppy if you catch him in the act of having an accident. Don’t scare or startle him. Marking the behavior with a quiet hand clap or the words “oh-oh” should be enough to stop him mid-stream. Punishing him in the act will only teach him not to go in front of you, leading to a dog that sneaks behind the couch to go in private.
Take your puppy to his potty place as soon as you catch him. If he stopped when you interrupted him, he might finish in the appropriate place and you can reward him when he does. If he doesn’t finish, at least you have shown him where he should have gone.
Do nothing if you don’t see the accident happen. Showing your puppy after the fact won’t teach him anything about potty training. If you want to scold somebody, lecture yourself for not supervising closely enough.
Clean all accidents with an enzymatic cleaner. Dogs are attracted to the smell of previous business, so thorough and proper cleaning is essential.
If you’re struggling with potty training your new pup, just remember all the puppy training tips that were described above.
The Bottom Line
Training your puppy takes several ingredients. It takes patience, a plan, consistency, and above all it takes love and appreciation for your new puppy. It can be a hard thing – to train a puppy. Ultimately, however, it will be utterly rewarding. Granted, some days will be easier than others; however, as your dog grows - and your training begins to take shape - you’ll be glad you stuck to these puppy training tips and devoted the time and energy to learning to train your puppy the right way.