There’s so much for your puppy to learn, from house training to crate and potty training. You could leave it with professional dog trainers, but you’ll miss out on the opportunity to develop a strong bond early on. Contrary to popular belief, it is never too early to start training, except if your puppy was just born.
Training your puppy is necessary if you own one or hope to have one. Getting it accustomed to basic commands and surroundings early establishes a strong foundation.
You can also throw in food rewards to reinforce your training sessions. Oh! They love those yummy treats.
Don’t focus so much on puppy training that you forget to give it healthy meals with multivitamins and other nutrients. Physical, mental, and nutritional health must be developed in balance. With that in mind, here’s our ultimate guide to puppy training.
Things to Note Before You Start Training
You can start puppy training as early as eight weeks, i.e., when you bring it home. There’s a lot for you and your dog to learn, from grooming to understanding allergies and injuries. So, keep an open mind and prepare to know if you hope to become part of the future puppy parents.
We have a few things we’d like you to remember as you embark on puppy training. You must know them, especially if it is your first time. So, here we go.
Do your research on a dog trainer
We know that you may not always have all the time in the world. If you do, that’ll be great. Anyway, having an excellent professional dog trainer will go a long way.
Don’t just hop on the first trainer that pops up. Do your research and, most importantly, ensure the trainer is certified by a reputable dog trainer licensing body. An example would be the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).
The attention span varies as most dogs grow
Your puppy’s attention span does not last forever. The younger the dog, the less attention it will pay to you. Hence, you should keep the training sessions short—maybe within 45 minutes.
The attention will vary over the dog’s life. Also, it can get better with dog training. Keep your sessions short and targeted.
Maintain regular vet visits
Find a vet as early as possible and establish a routine visit. You want to identify any underlying illnesses while getting dog training. Raising a puppy is not a one-day job, but you can do it.
A vet will also help you identify any illnesses that could affect the dog's behavior during training. Dog behavior is also essential during training. Hence, ensure you have that written into your routine.
Keep the yummy treats close
Positive reinforcement training works well, especially when getting a new pup to learn something. Dropping those yummy treats makes it feel like the action is good. As a result, the dog will double down on it.
Crate training is an example of where yummy treats show exceptional results. No, we do not mean dropping a food bowl. Make it something simple but rewarding enough.
Puppy-proof your home
Are you excited to be among dog owners? The first thing you should do when getting a new pup is puppy proofing. Do this for your home before you start training our puppy, or else you’ll be left with torn sofas and the like.
Get the right supplies, like chew toys, crates, etc. Create a safe space for your new puppy in the home.
Training Your Puppy
We’ve reviewed a few things to implement before you start dog training. They’ll make the puppy class much easier as you advance from basic obedience to advanced training. Now, let’s look at the learning process from a few weeks to months.
It’s time to warm up and prepare because we are ready to serve the main course meal. Remember to pay attention to your pet’s health even as you focus on getting good behavior from the training.
We’ll look at the training from the age of young pups to a few months. So, here we go:
Within ten weeks
Your new puppy has a few things to learn. Before you kick off the dog training, ensure you establish a schedule and stick to it. You could get all the basics right but fail to establish a lasting impression because of an irregular schedule.
Dogs love routines. They like knowing what comes next and will naturally settle in before you even know it. Hence, map out the crate training times, potty times, nap times, meal times, and what have you.
Keeping that in mind, here are some things your new puppy should learn within ten weeks of age.
Crate and potty training
The resting place and the potty place must be established early in the life of your new dog. You don’t want it messing up the house. Regarding the resting area, you can leave the crate door open and drop some yummy treats inside.
Allow your puppy to examine the crate at its own pace, and don’t worry if the dog jumps out. Discourage it from jumping out and place more treats inside to lengthen its stay inside the crate. Keep the crate as the dog’s place of happiness and safety.
On the other hand, give the dog treats if it "pottys" in your chosen spot. That will encourage it to mark the location for the future.
Your new dog must learn to be alone. Anxiety could affect behavior later in life, especially during thunderstorms and other natural occurrences. So, build alone time (a few hours) into the dog training schedule.
The dog’s ability to manage separation anxiety will improve over time. However, don’t leave it for too long.
Bring the leash
Toilet training and separation anxiety management are crucial. Notwithstanding, real socialization requires a leash. Start with a tight leash and allow your puppy to move around the house with it.
Some people think a loose leash is best to start with. Ditch the loose leash and keep it tight. You can also include a food reward as your dog gets this basic obedience right.
Training puppies in the early weeks cannot be complete without the "sit" command. It is one of the earliest that your dog must learn.
Begin in less distracting environments and progress to more challenging situations. Ensure the puppy can recognize your cues, whether verbally or by hand signal.
Within twelve weeks
You’ve made progress, and your puppy will soon join the ranks of adult dogs. Here are the areas to pay attention to during the puppy schedule:
It’s time to give your puppy social and environmental exposure. Introduce it to your friends that come around the house. You can also take it for brief walks, but avoid contact with other dogs.
Go with treats to keep the dog happy during the walk. These subtle introductions will expose your dog to the world outside your home.
In the end, your puppy is part of the canine family. It will push to put its teeth on anything fancy enough. Get chew toys and other harmless things to satisfy that urge.
Your skin could become a target if you don’t stop this behavior. Also, learning impulse control should be part of mouth training.
You’ll perform grooming and other care processes that require body handling. Train your puppy early on this, and even an award-winning veterinarian will thank you. Introduce the tools like toothbrushes, combs, etc., but do it subtly.
Basic obedience and "say please"
Introduce lessons on answering calls, sitting down, and brief stays into the puppy schedule. Keep them short and positively reinforced. Also, teach the puppy to say "please" whenever it needs something.
That will help establish impulse control in it. In the end, we want good behavior.
Within four months
At this point, you can notice a strength buildup in your puppy as it becomes an adult dog. There is nothing to worry about since you’ve already established impulse control and basic obedience. However, it is time to take things up a notch.
Here’s what to focus on at this stage:
This training should come after your puppy has had the necessary vaccinations. Remember that we told you to avoid other dogs during the previous socialization training? Now, you can take your dog to more populated areas with fewer dogs.
Nevertheless, avoid the neighborhood park, where you’ll find many dogs. Allow your puppy to meet new friends at its own pace.
Continue the leash training
Train your puppy on how to behave politely with a leash. Ensure it doesn’t pull while on the leash. In addition, give it yummy treats when it behaves well.
Reinforce the positive behaviors
Double down on the behavior from the early good puppy class. Take it to more distracting environments and ensure it complies.
Get a dog trainer
A good trainer will reinforce the training you’ve had with your puppy since its early days. You also need refinement in certain areas.
As Your Puppy Gets Older
Keep up with the leash refinement in different scenarios. That will help your dog maintain a polite walk regardless of the environment. Also, reinforce the behavior it learned in the early classes.
Ensure you don’t stop the treats. Instead of eliminating them, you can replace them with other rewards, like playtime.
Raising a puppy is no easy feat, especially in a multi-pet household. However, it is not rocket science, and you can do it even if it's your first time. Pay attention to its health as you train it to become your best friend.
Keep a veterinarian on call or establish regular vet visits. Build the training around a schedule and keep to it.