The day has finally arrived to introduce your new dog into your home!
Like most people you probably have high expectations that your little fluff ball will progress seamlessly into a well behaved adult dog.
Unfortunately this is not always an easy process, and as an owner you will face many challenges along the way. These challenges are all part of the fun of being a dog owner!
This article presents useful tips to help you with the initial stages of puppy training.
1) Be Prepared and Do Some Research
It is important to be prepared before the puppy arrives. It is surprising how many people forget to buy puppy food or a bed for their puppy, before it arrives!
If you haven’t owned a dog before, then do some research. It will make things easier in the long run.
Things to buy:
- A good quality puppy food. Check what the breeder was feeding and talk to your veterinarian for advice.
- Food and water bowls.
- A good quality collar, a harness and a lead.
- A puppy crate with suitable bedding.
- Puppy toilet training pads if necessary
- Suitable puppy treats.
- Puppy safe toys- not to be easily broken or swallowed.
2) Start the Training Process Early
The sooner you start with basic training the easier the process will be. This means that from DAY ONE in the new home, the puppy should be introduced to basic rules and training. It doesn’t need a few weeks to “settle in”. This doesn’t need to be an overly strict or scary process but the sooner the puppy gets into a routine the sooner it starts to learn.
3) Make a List of Puppy “House Rules”
It is a great idea to make a short list of “house rules” for the puppy. Ideally all family members should sit down and agree on this together.
- The dog should not be fed scraps from the table.
- The command to be used for toileting is…
- The dog is not allowed on the sofa.
- Do not disturb the dog when he is eating.
4) Be Consistent With Your Training
Consistency is key! Anyone who is involved with the puppy on a daily basis should be on the same page when training or disciplining the puppy- hence why the “House Rules” are so important.
When the puppy gets into a daily routine it will feel more relaxed and learn more quickly. This includes feeding at regular and consistent times, which in turn means regular and consistent toilet breaks.
Consistency always helps to eliminate confusion. For example, if one person does not allow the puppy on the sofa, but the other person does, then the puppy will be very confused! Start as you mean to go on.
5) Patience is Important
You will need an abundance of patience. If you find yourself getting frustrated or angry with your puppy, take a moment to calm down and walk away.
Do not hit your puppy. They do not understand what they have done wrong. Hitting your puppy can cause trust issues.
6) Short, Fun Training Sessions Are Best
Training is more effective if you have a short, fun training session than a long, boring one. In longer sessions, the puppy will lose concentration and become tired and frustrated.
Aim for 5-10 minutes of training each day.
It is important to reward your puppy for good behaviour. It is called positive reinforcement and makes training fun. Rewards don’t always have to be food, they can be toys, praise or a cuddle.
7) End Training Sessions Positively
End a training session with 5 minutes of play. If you end a training session on a good note, the training will be remembered in a positive way.
Playing is also an important part of their development. Just like a child, a puppy needs to play to develop social skills. Through play they learn to share their toys and to also to be disciplined if necessary when they are being too boisterous.
8) Realize That Every Puppy Is an Individual
It is important to remember that every puppy is different and will learn at its own speed. Some puppies will be motivated by food, others will not. Some puppies will love to fetch, others will not. Try not to compare your puppy to anyone else’s.
It is important to develop your own bond with your puppy and understand their needs. It is also necessary to learn your own puppy’s body language- to realize when they need to toilet, when they want to play or when they are feeling frightened or intimidated.
9) Handle Your Puppy Every Day
Stroke and groom your puppy every day with gentle praise, so it learns to enjoy being groomed. This should again be done in short periods daily, so that it doesn’t become tiresome.
It is important to get your puppy used to gently looking at its teeth, ears and feet from an early age. This will make it easier to clip its nails or apply ear drops, if necessary when it gets older.
You also get to learn what is normal for your dog, so that as it gets older you can more easily notice any changes, painful areas or lumps.
10) Go to a Puppy Socialisation Class
Early socialization with other dogs is crucial to your puppy’s future development. A puppy socialization class will allow your puppy to mix with a variety of puppies of different breeds and sizes in a controlled environment. The class coordinator is usually a trained dog behaviorist, and can give you useful feedback and tips. Puppies can usually attend these classes after their initial course of vaccinations.
Socialization classes also have the added benefit that you can meet other like-minded owners, and share all your puppy horror stories without feeling embarrassed.
Do you have any tips in addition to those above? Feel free to leave a comment telling me more below - I'd love your input 🙂