“Training a puppy is like raising a child. Every single interaction is a training opportunity.”
Key Takeaway: Puppy training is about getting your puppy to listen to you. It is important to understand what to teach your puppy, when to teach it, and how to teach it.
Puppy training starts as soon as you bring your puppy home. Whatever your pup does, you will need to react in a proper manner, or he will end up learning the wrong things. You must already be anticipating the joys of having a puppy, however it isn’t going to be a cakewalk. Puppies are cute little bundles of joy, full of curiosity and a pleasure to be around. However, it can also get exasperating at times. If you are well equipped to respond properly to the challenges of having a new puppy in the house, then the housebreaking period for you and your pup will be shorter and stress free.
There are certain things that you should get right when you are raising a puppy.
Routines help in reassuring the puppy. For instance, his bowls for food and water should always be placed in a constant place. You will need to teach your puppy:
● a daily routine
● where his food bowl is placed
● the times of the day when he will get to eat
● where his bed is, the time he needs to go to bed
● the time when he gets up
● when he goes for bathroom, and also
● when he gets to go for a walk or play
It would be a mistake to think that the manner in which these routines are taught wouldn’t matter. It does matter. If you make use of the right method of teaching, then your puppy would be a well behaved on and will be happy too. If you make use of the wrong methods to teach, then your puppy will start making his own decisions and try to fit you into his life. It should be the other way around.
Teach With Words
You should teach your puppy a few words after your pup has learned the two most important words. These two words are:
● ‘NO’, and
It’s not just the routines that you will need to teach your pup. You will need to teach it words as well. Whenever your puppy does something that you appreciate, show your appreciation by saying “good”, and if your puppy does something undesirable then say “no”. You can start with this when your pup is about two months old. These words should be taught in a proper manner. Your body language and tone make all the difference. If you get your puppy when it is more than three months old, you should start teaching these two words immediately.
Biscuit Training Should Be Avoided
Puppies love treats. However, coaxing good behavior with treats should be avoided. Don’t rely on treats for training your puppy. You might be wondering what is wrong with it. When you start practicing “biscuit training”, you are giving up the decision making power to your puppy. Depending on whether or not your puppy is hungry, your puppy will decide to listen to you. This allows your puppy to believe that he doesn’t have to listen to you.
This doesn’t mean that you should deprive your puppy of treats altogether.
Treats can be used for motivation, especially while teaching tricks. However, this should be a reward and not the method of teaching itself. Coaxing a puppy to do what you want on a daily basis will not help in training him.
Your puppy will pay attention to you only if he respects you. Your puppy should know that you are the leader at home. Without any respect, your puppy might learn the words and the routines, but will not listen to you. Your puppy’s disrespect can be traced back to improper training. Too much of coddling will also lead to it. Your puppy should be taught who’s the boss at home, if you want him to listen to you. Respect isn’t something that you can get almost right. There needs to be consistency and you should keep doing it regularly.
This book, Puppy Training 101, will help you in figuring things out in this respect. A dog can learn a lot of words, and there isn’t a better way to get him to understand what you want him to do and not to do, than to choose deliberately the words that you want him to learn. Knowing the words, you want to teach will be of no help, if you don’t know how to teach. You don’t have to expect your dog to listen to your child’s stories. However, you can expect him to listen carefully to you. He should be eager to follow the directions you give him.
Let’s take a look at the puppy-training schedule.
You can start crate training when your puppy is two to three months old. A crate will help in protecting your puppy from household accidents and it comes in handy when you want to housebreak your puppy. The crate would be your pup’s sanctuary. Don’t think of this as a pup’s jail. If you do, then your puppy will start thinking the same too.
Initially, your puppy might not be happy to have his movements restricted. But it won’t take long before he will go on his own to his crate for catching a quick nap, or to just retreat from all the household activity. For a new puppy, a crate will not only help in housebreaking, but it will also double up as a place for him to sleep in. When your puppy gets used to the crate, it gets really easy to take him to the vet or even for trips in your car.
When your puppy is two to three months old, you can start with housebreaking training. A two-month old puppy is as good as an infant baby. They won’t have much control over their bladder. Especially a small breed puppy. They don’t develop control over their bladder for several months. Still, you should start your efforts at housebreaking since you get your puppy home.
Start out by establishing a pattern. This will help your puppy to cooperate with you as well. However, if you get this wrong, housebreaking will be nothing short of a nightmare. Most owners don’t realize it until their puppy has had an accident in the house. These accidents will start becoming a routine, and it is really difficult to change this pattern. There are different ways in which you can start this out. This would include making use of a crate, a doggy door, or even a litter box for smaller breeds.
You will also need to start handling your puppy. This is the only way in which he would accept everything that you do with him. Your puppy will need to see you as the leader in the home. Being the leader doesn’t mean that you will simply have to keep deciding what’s okay and isn’t okay for your puppy. For instance, brushing, bathing, clipping your pup’s nails, putting a collar on, a harness, or even giving your pup a pill. When it comes to these things, it is you and not your puppy that gets to decide what needs to be done. The best way, in which you can do this, would be to include some respect lessons along with the vocabulary lessons. If you teach the words and the puppy respects you too, then acceptance will follow suit.
Furthermore, you will need to teach your puppy that he needs to be gentle while interacting with others. He shouldn’t nip or chew on people’s hands or feet. Just like with acceptance training, being gentle should also be taught to your dog. A puppy is usually taught gentleness by his mother, when she (firmly) corrects the puppy while playing. Your job is to take over from there. You are your puppy’s parent.
So, it is not just about caring, but also about correcting the puppy when he starts going wrong somewhere. You will need to teach your puppy to show restraint.
You are the one who gets to set limits about good and bad behavior. Remember this.
You will need to teach your puppy about the behaviors that are acceptable and aren’t acceptable in the house. Is he allowed to chew on shoes? No. Is he allowed to jump on someone’s lap or sit on the furniture when others are present? You get to decide this, and everyone in the household should follow the same too. Is he allowed to enter the kitchen while food is being cooked? This might be unsafe for the puppy, so probably no. Even simple things like whether or not he is allowed to take socks from the laundry pile, sleeping in your bed at night, or even barking at strangers when he sees them from the window.
You will need to decide on the household rules, and then be consistent in making your puppy listen to you. If you have decided that something isn’t acceptable, then convey the same to the others in the house too. You shouldn’t confuse your puppy.
Tips for Older Puppies
You might think that the training schedule might be different for an older puppy.
Well, it really isn’t. Regardless of the age of the puppy, the training schedule should be the same. You will need to start out with vocabulary training. Start out with the basic routine, praise, corrective words, crate training, acceptance training, gentleness, and even household rules. So, if your puppy is still eating off your hand, barking at strangers, or doesn’t stop when you tell him to, this would be the right time to start out with the basic training. Start out with simple and essential words like no and good, before moving onto the words like stay, sit, or even heel. Respect will always need to come first regardless of his age.
Move on to other words after he gets to understand the basic ones. Like walking on the leash without tugging at it, coming to you when called, lying down or staying still, waiting at the door even when it’s open, to stop barking when you tell him to and so much more. All these skills would involve your puppy learning up new words. It is not just about learning what these words mean; it is also about doing what they mean. You will need to teach these words in a specific manner. This will help in your puppy seeing you as a leader. Giving him treats won’t be of any help.
Leadership definitely doesn’t mean hitting your puppy, or making use of choke collars. There are certain little things that you will need to do and say while interacting with your puppy. All puppies will misbehave from time to time.
However, the manner in which you respond to them makes all the difference. If you keep responding in the wrong manner, then the puppy will keep on misbehaving. If you respond in a desirable manner, he will think of you as the leader. It is best if you can get this right since the beginning. With a new puppy, you get the chance to teach him all the right habits and correct them whenever he does something wrong.