If you have just brought a new puppy home for the first time, it may be tempting to cuddle, spoil, and shower your adorable puppy with affection. But just as important as love and affection, is taking the time to train your puppy from a young age so that he can learn good behaviors that will stick with him for the rest of his life.
Early puppy training is one of the best ways to prevent long-term behavioral issues, like using the toilet indoors, barking, and chewing furniture. You can use the top puppy training tips below to help prepare yourself and your home ahead of time.
10 Essential Puppy Training Tips
- Treats are earned, not given. It can be tempting to give a new puppy treat after treat for being so playful and loving. But a puppy will respond best to treats that are earned for good behavior, such as chewing on chew toys instead of furniture or using the toilet successfully outdoors. This will teach your puppy early on that treats are a reward that can be earned through obedience, not bad behavior.
- Exchange toys with a treat. Your puppy should only have access to his toys at playtime. Instead of grabbing the toy and taking something away from your dog, give him a treat to exchange it so that he doesn’t become possessive of his toys.
- Give treats while your puppy is eating. When your puppy is eating, place your hand into his food bowl to give him delicious treats. This will teach your dog to accept your presence when he is eating due to the positive association of receiving extra treats.
- Stay consistent in training not to nip. Puppies are known to nip and chew on different items as they explore their environment. Make sure that you and all family members teach your puppy that no nipping or biting is acceptable; instead, redirect the puppy to a chew toy and reward to reinforce good behavior.
- Train at the right time. Puppies are eager and willing to learn, especially with reward-based training. But make sure that you train your puppy in a short 5 minutes sessions before mealtime so that he has enough energy and is hungry enough to earn treats for obedience.
- Take training slow. A puppy is growing and developing on a day by day basis, so it may take him time to learn a number of basic commands. Start out slowly with 2 to 3 commands at a time and wait until your puppy learns the commands successfully before moving forward. It is better to build upon successes than to try training 10 different things at once.
- Do not provide negative attention. Use positive reinforcement to train your puppy instead of scolding or yelling to prevent negative associations. Once your puppy understands that he is rewarded for good behavior, he will be likely to repeat it over and over again.
- Use a crate to house train. One of the most overlooked puppy training tips is using a crate to house train. But when you teach your puppy to enjoy his crate through positive association and rewards, he will be happy to stay in his crate when you are not at home to prevent accidents. Once your puppy is taken out of his crate, he should be taken outdoors to use the toilet immediately. Once he eliminates successfully, reward him with praise and a treat to reinforce the good behavior.
- Socialize from a young age. You can socialize your puppy through basic leash training on a walk down the street or at a park. This can be used to train your puppy to follow you instead of pulling on the leash and will also acclimate him to new people and other dogs. The key to this is positive socialization, you want your puppy to experience pleasurable things while meeting strangers and other dogs/puppies.
- Enroll in an obedience class. Taking at least one obedience class will help you to understand how to better communicate with your puppy in a positive way. This will also teach your puppy how to socialize with other dogs/puppies and people at the same time!