A new puppy is a fantastic addition to your household – albeit one that can arrive with many challenges. It’s important to remember though, that your little bundle of fur will one day be a fully-grown dog. To ensure that your puppy grows up with good manners, it’s best to start their training at an early age.
It doesn’t all have to be hard work and serious though – while dedication is important, training your puppy can also be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience for both of you.
Broadly speaking you can break training into three simple areas:
Basic housetraining involves teaching your puppy to go to the toilet outside, rather than inside the house. There are a few ways to do this. One is to put ‘puppy pads’ by the door and to encourage your puppy to use the toilet here, as a precursor to teaching them to go outside. When you progress to the garden, keeping the pads by the door can also help to catch any accidents.
Alternatively, you can teach your puppy to use the garden from the outset. This may result in a bit more carpet cleaning initially, but it instils straight away that inside is not the place for your puppy to go to the toilet, speeding the process up overall and avoiding any confusion.
However you choose to housetrain your puppy, the key to success lies in lots of positive praise when they get it right. Your puppy will naturally love any attention and affection it gets and will soon put two-and-two together. Try not to scold your puppy for the odd accident as there is a chance that they may see the act itself as the thing they did wrong, rather than where they did it, and in some cases this can put your training back. Always focus on the positive.
Socialising your puppy at an early age teaches them how to act with other dogs and other people. Your puppy might be unaware of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour, so it’s far better for them to make any mistakes when they are small, whilst they can cause less damage and have not yet developed habits that are then harder to change.
Once your puppy has had all of its vaccinations and your vet has given the all-clear to introduce it to others, then by all means, teach your puppy how to make friends! Not only is this better for other dogs and people that will meet your puppy in the future, but it will also help it to grow in confidence and be a happier, more contented dog all round.
If you are unsure of where to take your puppy, or are nervous about how it may get on in public, ask the team at The Vet for advice or for details of puppy socialisation classes in your area.
If you haven’t got any past experience of training a dog, you might be more comfortable joining a puppy training class. The team at The Vet can advise you on good classes held locally.
Puppies are boisterous and while they usually enjoy the process of learning, they can also be easily distracted by all the new and exciting goings-on around them. Fortunately, it’s usually fairly straightforward to get their attention back. Treats can be invaluable when you need to get your puppy’s attention quickly, like when they are off their lead during a walk. If your puppy relates following a command to getting a tasty treat, there is the added motivation for them to do what is asked of them! Once they understand that more obedience equals more treats, you will find they often remember what it is they are supposed to be doing!
Once you are sure that your puppy understands what you are asking them to do, start limiting the treats. It might seem hard to resist those sad puppy eyes at first, but the end goal is to turn ‘good behaviour’ into ‘normal behaviour’. A friendly stroke of the ears and a congratulatory “good dog, aren’t you clever” will more than make up for the disappearing treats.
Training your dog will almost certainly strengthen the bond between you. Watching and experiencing your puppy develop is a very rewarding experience and as time goes on you will find that it becomes less of a chore and more just a part of your normal day.
Keep an eye on The Vet blog for more articles to help you get the most out of your relationship with your dog and to ensure that they lead a happy, healthy and waggy-tailed life.