Dog training tips for your new puppy
No-one likes an unruly dog, at best they are irritating and at worst, downright dangerous. In order to set a dog on the path to happy adult life, it is really crucial that training is started when he is a puppy.
A framework of discipline is the best way to show your new arrival how much you love them. A badly disciplined dog will be unhappy and confused leading to destructive behaviors such as chewing, incessant barking and worse, biting. Dogs, like children, need boundaries. Take a look at our dog training guide for your new puppy.
Unless you are already an expert on how to train dogs, puppy school is probably the best option for you and your new hound. It’s a really great, safe environment for you to let your puppy socialize with other dogs in a controlled way and you can swap tips and experiences with other dog owners too.
Puppy school can provide a framework but it is only part of the picture, the majority of puppy training will take place within the home. Here are some pointers (pun intended), some dog training tips to help you get going.
- Start training as soon as the puppy arrives, you can’t start early enough. Leaving it until later on will make your life and the dog’s life much more difficult
- It will quickly become apparent that toilet training needs to be very high on your list of priorities! There are key times when the puppy needs to go outside and that is immediately upon waking and within 15 minutes to half an hour after eating. Monitoring these windows will give you the chance to seize the opportunity and guide the puppy out of the house. However, most puppies need to urinate around every couple of hours so there will be accidents. Keep plenty of newspaper and wipes handy
- Use a cue word when the puppy is urinating or defecating so the puppy learns to associate the action with the word and should hopefully perform to command when a little bit older. Don’t use praise as this could become the cue word with unfortunate consequences
- Try and keep to regular feeding routines as this totally influences what happens at the other end
- Never punish the puppy for soiling indoors, they can’t help it and you will only make them fearful of you and inhibit them actually going to the toilet in front of you
- Don’t use ammonia-based cleaning fluid for indoor accidents; these smell similar to urine as far as a dog is concerned and will only encourage a repeat performance
- Don’t leave the back door open in the hope that the puppy will take the hint. This doesn’t work when the weather is cold anyway and the door is closed. The puppy needs to ask to go outside regardless of temperature. If he wanders outside on a warm sunny day and goes to the toilet, this is just coincidence because it happened to come upon him at that point in time – this is not a sign that training is progressing
- Introduce a soft puppy collar from day one, you will need to replace this as the puppy grows but a full-sized one will be too large and heavy. Try and find one with clips rather than buckles as the puppy will wriggle and they are hard to do up
- Build up slowly the length of time the puppy wears the collar and remove it when no-one is home in case he gets agitated or becomes caught up on something
- When the puppy is established in a collar, introduce the concept of the lead, staying in the house at first. If you go outside, the puppy will be eager to experience new scents and smells and is bound to start pulling. This teaches a bad habit very early on
- Lure the puppy forward with his favorite toy or a treat so he learns immediately to move forward. Never pull the puppy along, you will create a problem that is hard to cure later on and you could damage him physically. Once he is happy and confident with both collar and lead, then this is a good time to introduce puppy school
- Socialization involves introducing your puppy to new experiences which he will have to encounter as an adult dog. These need to be progressive and largely a pleasant experience. If you over face the puppy, you will only make him frightened. He needs, therefore, to become familiar with items around the home – phones, hoovers, washing machines, visitors – before you cope with the world outside. Short walks where there is not too much noisy traffic and other people with dogs are ideal
- The accepted socialization window is up to 16 weeks in age so if you take the puppy at around 8 weeks, you will have a couple of months to expose him to his brave new world. This may include car travel, visits to the vet and anything else he will need to encounter in his life. All experiences should be positive and reinforced through repetition
What else does training provide?
Training your dog provides mental stimulation; as you can see from dog agility classes, you can train your dog to do almost anything. For breeds which are quick thinking and ‘busy’, this mental stimulation is essential to occupying your dog and providing sufficient stimulation, keeping him healthy and happy. A local dog trainer or training club can provide more information on how to train dogs if you encounter any specific difficulties or want to do more.