Wagging tails, perky ears, and undeniable affection –what’s not to love? A new puppy can provide any person or family with light, laughter, and happiness. However, with your new companion will come new responsibilities and training needs. While we all want a ball of fluff to call our own, we also all hope for a puppy that is going to fetch us the newspaper, not ruin our new Nike’s, and pee all over the house. So how do you go about training a ball full of energy? Let’s take a look at five steps you can take to train your puppy all by yourself. Remember, every living creature needs a little structure and discipline in their lives to become the best they can be for themselves and their companions.
Step 1: The Basics
Even before you bring your dog home, there are things that you can do to get yourself, your family, and your house prepared for your new pet.
- Assign each person a duty: If there is more than one person in the house, then make sure that each of them is aware of the rules that will be set in place to go about training your puppy. If a pet knows that there is one person that is going to always give them what they want – then they will always go to that person. All-around discipline is key, so get everyone in on your training plan.
- Start right away: When you bring your puppy home, you are going to want to make sure that you implement certain rules right away, and not try to change them later. For instance, if you are going to have your dog in sleep in a crate until they are house trained, begin that as soon as he or she is brought home.
- Keep it quick: If you have ever played with a puppy before, you would know that they have a pretty short attention span. They key in training your puppy and getting them to obey you is to keep your training sessions down to 5, 10, or 15 minutes. You can start with 5 minutes and work your way up overtime. Keep them interested by incorporating new methods and games into your training each time. Remember to always conclude a training session with praise, rewards, and positive reinforcement so that they can look forward to training and see it in a positive light.
Step 2: Treats 101
Just as with younger children, pets do great when there is some type of reward involved, and a puppy is no different.
- Food rewards: To begin, you might want to consider food rewards, as they are one of the easiest ways to get a response. However, remember not to pile on the treats. Feeding your dog people food or treats heavy in fat or starches can just make them overweight. Start with a small treats in a small regulated amount, or pieces of dog food.
- Toys rewards: However, if you would rather not get your dog involved with responding to treats, you can try toys as well. Some dogs love playing games like fetch or tug-of-war. You can also consider taking your dog out for a nice walk or a run at the park. Puppies love to play outside!
- Petting rewards: Another type of reward system to use is to simply stroke or pet your puppy in a loving and affection manner while speaking to them in a positive manner. This will help them get used to touching and verbal praise as an incentive to performing their “training” tasks well.
Step 3: Potty Training
It is pretty inevitable that a little accident on the carpet is bound to happen when you first get a puppy. However, at the beginning is when you want to get them used to whatever type of house-training method that you want to incorporate into their daily schedule. It is important to remember also that puppies do not have full control over their own bowel movements until they are more than 12 weeks old (so it is not always their fault!).
- Stay positive: Most puppies are not fully house trained until they are six months old, so it is important to keep a positive attitude during this time while you are attempting to house train them. Even if they have accidents on a regular basic, practice positive reinforcement and do not scold them harshly.
- Did you know that puppies generally hold their bowel movements in for the number of months old that they are? For example, if your puppy is 3 months old then he or she will usually wait to relieve themselves for 3 hours. It is important to keep this in mind so that you can be around to let them in or out of the house if need be.
- Regular feeding: Establishing a regular feeding schedule for your puppy is going to play a big role in their bowel movements. It is important to remember to feed them at the same time everyday so that they can get into the habit of relieving themselves at that same time as well. This will also encourage your puppy to see that you are in charge of their eating, and this will generally help them follow your training and be more responsive and reliant towards you as their owner.
- Be consistent: It is important to be consistent with the reinforcement and actions that involve potty training with your puppy. For instance, praise your puppy every time they relieve themselves outside, and take them to the same place every day to do their duty. This will get them used to the routine, the schedule, and the spots.
- Look for signs: You might not be able to spot these straightaway, but overtime you will become more aware of signs that your puppy needs to potty. Some common signs include: sniffing, circling, whining, or pacing around the room. Always react to these signs by taking your puppy outside and seeing how they respond.
Step 4: No-biting Training
Puppies cannot really do much with their hands yet, nor do they have thumbs or pinkies like the rest of us, so most of the time they are just exploring when they bite. Be aware that puppies spend a lot of their time getting to know different things, smells, and objects with their mouths. Still, you are going to want to train your puppy not to bite at an early age, or else they will just continue to bite as they get older.
- Show them it hurts: If a puppy bites you, respond to the bite with a loud and noticeable reaction that they will be obviously aware of. For example: let out a loud yelo or “ouch!” After you do this, ignore your puppy for 10 to 20 seconds. Get into the habit of doing this with them so that they are aware that play stops when pain happens.
- Have a toy handy: If your puppy likes to nip at your feet, carry a toy around and when they do nip, throw the toy to distract them.
Step 5: Obeying Commands
After the initial essential training is done (ie: potty training, biting, etc.), you can move on to some more fun tricks and commands that you can get your puppy to respond to. Consider the following commands:
- Sit, lie down, come, and stay.
Let’s take a look at one in detail as an example.
Sit: Most dogs know how to sit on command, so start with this simple trick to get your puppy prepared for more complicated ones. To prepare your dog to sit:
- Have a treat ready to reward them.
- Hold the treat in front of the puppy’s nose and gently pull your puppy’s leash up so that its nose comes up to the treat. Then, gently push your puppy’s rear down, and their bottom will normally land in a “sitting” position.
- Make sure you say the words “Sit!” so that they get used to hearing the command. Give your puppy a treat and praise them accordingly.
- Repeat this method daily until your puppy is able to do it on command without the leash.
Tips To Remember During Training
Here are some puppy training tips to keep in mind during the training process.
- Do not call your puppy out of punishment. If your puppy comes to you and is punished, this will make them loose trust in your call.
- Start training your puppy inside in a place where they can be focused, calm, and away from distractions.
- Conduct training or trick sessions with your puppy before they are fed. Once they have a full tummy they will be less likely to respond. Also, this can help your puppy associate training with eating as a reward.
Practice, practice, practice!
Training a puppy is a process. Do not halt or stop training after a few days if your puppy gets tired or distracted— this is just part of the process. It is important to reinforce training throughout a puppy’s life, and well into its adult development. Ready to begin training? Enroll in this interactive online course to start begin a lifetime of fun with your pup.