Puppyhood only lasts 8 months, which can really fly by when you’re in the company of an adorable puppy! These months are critical when it comes to training. They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But really the expression should be, when puppies learn good habits, it lasts a lifetime!
Training your puppy to have good habits is no easy feat, and consistently good behavior won’t happen overnight. But it can happen within 8 months. In fact, the majority of things your puppy must learn, such as how to communicate his need to go to the bathroom, can be accomplished in only a few months!
PuppyBuddy has put together 10 puppy training tips to help you on your pet parenting journey. Let’s get started.
Maintaining a consistent, daily schedule for your puppy will be the biggest asset in your puppy training toolbox. Canines are very quick to pick up on routines, and as you provide the stability of a fixed, daily routine for your puppy, you will notice that he’s able to anticipate the major activities throughout the day. Activities such as waking up, bathroom breaks, meal times, walk times, and bedtime.
If you’re unfamiliar, crate training is the process of helping your puppy to enjoy spending alone time in his crate and to ultimately regard his crate as his own personal space. Crate training is an integral factor in training your puppy to become self-sufficient during alone time without becoming destructive.
Canines are considered “den animals,” and your puppy will feel most comfortable in a den-like dwelling when he sleeps or needs rest. Crate training can also positively impact your potty training efforts. Dogs have an instinct not to go to the bathroom where they sleep, so by crate training your puppy, the situation will encourage him to get your attention when he needs to go to the bathroom.
Socialization is a vital aspect of puppy training, yet not too many people place special emphasis on it. Yes, socialization happens naturally, but as a puppy parent, it’s also important for you to organize times to socialize your puppy to ensure that all the bases are covered. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What is socialization?
Puppy socialization is the process of introducing your puppy to other dogs, animals, people, children, and environments and situations. In each interaction, your job is to closely train your puppy by offering positive or negative reinforcement depending on your puppy’s behavior. This will teach your puppy to know what is acceptable and unacceptable. The reason we suggest that you organize opportunities for socialization is because your puppy might not naturally encounter other dogs, for example, or children. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to organize a doggy play date or take your puppy to a park where children play. This way, you can closely train your puppy as he meets others for the first time.
There’s no getting around it. Teaching your puppy to “sit,” “stay,” “lie down,” and other basic commands is the backbone of puppy training. Being able to communicate with your dog is a precursor to experiencing the joys of having a furry friend. Learning these basic commands has to happen during puppyhood since it’s difficult for adult dogs to change their habits.
During the puppy training process, you can use positive reinforcements, negative reinforcements, or a combination of both. At times, using punishments may be necessary, but should only be used as a last resort since negative reinforcement typically gets the message across. We’ll discuss both positive and negative reinforcements in other sections of this article.
TRAINING & SOCIALIZATION AT THE DOG PARK
There’s nothing quite as fun as seeing your new puppy experience things for the first time. Watching his big, curious eyes grow wide and his little tail wagging is heart-warming. You may already have gotten a taste of this extreme cuteness when you take your puppy for walks around the block. Naturally, you’re starting to wonder when you can take your puppy to the park where he can frolick, see squirrels, and encounter other people and dogs.
Training your puppy in basic commands and socializing him outside of the home go hand-in-hand. If your puppy doesn’t comprehend and obey your commands, then you need to hold off from taking him to the park. It’s important that your puppy learns the “language” of simple, park-appropriate commands, and you need to be able to trust him. A dog must put obeying you at the top of his priority list. This is a skill the dog develops. Puppies tend to have low impulse control and they put playing and following their curiosity and desires higher on the priority list than obeying their pet parents. With time, they get their priorities straight, and you have to give it time.
These are the commands that your puppy should be able to obey no matter what before you bring him to a park:
- Drop it
- Back off
- Your puppy should know his own name, too!
Even if your puppy is trustworthy to follow these commands, we advise that you use a great deal of caution when bringing him to a dog park where your puppy as well as the other dogs will be off leash. Keep your puppy within your control even if he is off leash. Don’t let him run off into the “large breed dog” section of the dog park. And if you get a bad feeling about any of the dogs or the park itself, use your best judgment and act quickly. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
As we touched upon in the crate training tip above, your puppy will need to learn to appreciate his alone time. The fact of the matter is that you probably won’t be with your puppy 24 / 7, and even if you have a big family, there will be times when your puppy will need to spend time alone. He will need to be trained in terms of how to spend his alone time, and he will also have to learn that alone time is enjoyable.
The best advice we can give is that the cozier your puppy’s crate, the better. Likewise, if your puppy will need to spend alone time in his playpen, then making sure he has everything he needs in his pen will greatly help him to accept that he must be alone for a period of time. Giving your puppy a Kong toy with a treat inside, for example, can help him to make positive associations between having alone time in his personal space and receiving a yummy reward.
“Positive reinforcement” means rewarding your puppy when he behaves in the manner you want. This could be when he completes a command, such as sitting, staying, coming, or lying down. Or when he succeeds at long-term or complex commands, such as refraining from barking while a jogger runs down the sidewalk.
From your puppy’s perspective, the best reward is food. Canines are primal and highly value food. When a treat is gained as a result of doing any action, the puppy will repeat the action for the purposes of receiving more treats. Since your puppy views treats as “positive,” using treats to reinforce your desire for your puppy to display specific, good behaviors is called “positive reinforcement” in the dog training world.
Using positive reinforcement is the most effective puppy training method. It’s more effective than using negative reinforcement, though negative reinforcement is at times unavoidable.
Negative reinforcement is all about making sure your puppy knows that he will experience a negative consequence if he continues bad behavior. Just as positive reinforcement teaches a puppy to continue doing good behaviors, negative reinforcement teaches a puppy not to do certain behaviors.
From your puppy’s perspective, he actually cannot tell the difference between “right” and “wrong.” Human rules are unnatural for dogs. And though your puppy doesn’t automatically know the difference between good and bad behavior, he is eager to please you. He also knows that treats are good, pats are good, and attention and affection are good. He wants to receive those from you, and when you provide those positive rewards after he behaves well, he’ll continue to behave well, as we explained in the last section.
There will be instances when your puppy is only doing undesired behavior, and so there’s no opportunity to reward positive behavior. In instances like this, you’ll have to proceed with a negative consequence so that your puppy associates a behavior with a consequence. By making this connection, he’ll learn that the behavior was bad, and he’ll stop doing it.
For example, if your puppy nips you during playtime, you should make a high-pitched “yelp” sound. This sound mimics the cry of a hurt puppy. Your puppy would never want to harm another puppy during play, and so, when he hears the “puppy cry,” he should stop nipping. The sound of a puppy cry is a negative reinforcement. But let’s say that your puppy is a little stubborn and continues nipping. You can then discontinue playtime and put him in his crate to be alone. By abruptly stopping the playtime, you are creating a “negative reinforcement” that will teach your puppy that nipping will get him nowhere.
It’s good for your puppy to be “handled” and handling your puppy for a variety of different reasons will help him to accept handling and be submissive when he’s being handled. Being submissive will then continue throughout his life. When a puppy isn’t handled often, then when he matures, he will strongly resist being handled.
It really isn’t natural for a dog to be handled by humans. So, no one can really blame a puppy for resisting being handled. It’s part of his instinct to resist. But it’s for your puppy’s own good that he accepts being handled.
The terms “handled” and “handling” refer to baths, grooming, teeth brushing, nail trimming, petting, lifting, holding, hugging, being handled by vets during checkups, being handled by pet parents to go into their crates, into cars, and into new environments, and being handled by new people, such as dog sitters, dog walkers, dog trainers, and friends, family, and children.
This is all part of your puppy’s socialization and development, so it’s a good idea to make sure that your puppy gets handled throughout his puppyhood.
LEASHES AND HARNESSES
Your puppy will spend nearly 100% of his outdoor time either on a leash or a harness. And because every moment outside is an opportunity to train your puppy as he explores the world, he must be comfortable and controllable in his harness or on his leash. That’s why choosing the right leash or harness is an aspect of puppy training that can’t be overlooked.
Depending on your puppy’s breed and size, a harness may be more appropriate. Some breeds are inclined to “pull” and “lunge” while others are happy to scurry around your feet and have no interest in chasing squirrels. A little research may be required to help you find the right leash or harness for your puppy.
Those are the top 10 puppy training tips to help you on your puppy parenting journey! Are you ready for a new puppy? PuppyBuddy can help you find your furry soulmate. Check out our puppies for sale or stop in our Boca Raton FL location.