Not sure what to do with your new pup? Once you are able to resist the cuteness of your new family member, it is time to start training. Dogs can be trained from an early age, so begin teaching your puppy about your expectations and the world around them as soon as he or she arrives in your home. The sooner you begin teaching them good manners and social skills, the easier it will be for you when they hit the difficult period of adolescence.
Most likely, accidents will be the first issue that you will face after bringing a young dog home. Since this is going to happen within minutes of the puppy’s arrival, you need to be prepared. Before the arrival of your puppy, have the following things ready:
-A training pad on the floor to carry your dog there as soon as he\she wants to pee.
-Treats to reward the correct behaviour.
-Cleaning supplies to deal with the accidents immediately.
To find out how to housebreak a puppy, read “How to Housebreak a Dog (Puppy or Adult)”.
Biting, Mouthing and Nipping
Just as children, puppies use their mouths and teeth to explore. The problem is that they haven’t learnt yet where the line between friendly play and painful biting lies. Your job is to show these boundaries to the dog. Here is a great guide to dealing with play biting.
Start teaching your dog to come when called before your pup is allowed to walk on the streets. Get some really good treats and play “Hide & Seek” in your garden. Once you had all the vaccinations sorted, get a long training lead or some rope and begin the recall training.
1. Call your dog’s name, make silly noises, run away from your dog to encourage him or her to follow. Make it more fun to follow you than to run away from you. Never (!) chase the dog – this will encourage running away from you.
2. As the dog approaches you and you’re 99% sure that he will come, say “come” and make your recall gesture. A recall gesture should be something the dog will be able to see from some distance. For example, I make a semicircle with my arm, starting with my straight arm raised above my head and finishing with my arm pointing to my knees, where I want my dog to present himself when called. Praise your dog showing how incredibly exited and delighted you are to see your dog as he comes closer. Not: avoid bending over towards him as the dog may interpret this body position as “keep away from me”.
3. When the dog reaches you, give him a really good treat. Say your release word immediately – before the dog makes the decision to leave. You can use “Go”, “Off”, “Off you go”, “Thank you”, “OK” or any other word that comes to mind. Just make sure that it is the same word every time.
4. When the dog has a more or less reliable recall, start asking him to sit, when he comes to you. This will make recall easier for you and for the dog, because he’ll be less likely to run away immediately after coming.
Gradually increase the distraction level. Don’t expect a young dog to come to you, when he is engaged in communication with other dogs or in something equally fun. Remember to take it slow and only use your recall cue, when you are 99% sure that the dog will obey.
Foundation for Later Training
To have the ability to master some of the more complicated skills such as not pulling on the lead, tricks or staying in place until released, your dog needs to learn to learn. In other words, the dog needs to develop concentration skills and to know how training works. If you’re going to use a clicker, and I suggest you do, you will need to teach your dog what it means first. If you haven’t use a clicker before, read “How to Use a Clicker to Train Your Dog”. After that, you can begin with the foundation exercises:
The aim of these exercises is to teach your dog to be focused on you. Moreover, these skills will be useful when teaching things like walking on the lead or when dealing with lead reactive behaviour. Essentially, you are teaching your puppy to check back with you automatically whatever is happening around them.
Finally, when training a puppy, you will have to deal with over-excitement. Puppies tend to make a big deal of interaction with their owners and can lose control of their arousal very quickly. Don’t be frustrated or irritated by this behaviour. After all, it is a big deal for them! To learn how to deal with it read “A Dog Too Excited to Learn?”.