There’s no doubt about it. Getting a new puppy is overwhelmingly exciting. Whether it’s your first dog or your fifth, it’s hard to beat the feeling of adding a new member to the family.
However, the happy event can quickly become just plain overwhelming. Much like a baby, new puppies don’t come with an owner’s manual.
Thankfully, there’s a wealth of knowledge out there and some easy puppy training basics to get you started. Plenty of people have navigated puppyhood before!
Simple Tips to Keep in Mind
Before you jump right into training your pup, take a deep breath. It can be helpful to keep a few puppy training basics in mind.
They may move a little faster than human infants, but remember that a puppy is just a furry little baby. Your new pup is just a few weeks or months old! There’s a lot for them to learn and many new experiences to wrap their brains around.
Patience is key. Things may seem to be improving slowly, but remember this is the time you begin to develop life-long trust. If you’re feeling like things aren’t getting better, try keeping track using a journal – you’ll probably see that things are actually much better!
A new puppy is a lot like a rollercoaster. As they settle in to new routines, they may surprise you with changes in personality or even new problem behaviors.
Remember you were a kid once, too. In this turbulent time, puppies need an anchor in the choppy waters. Choosing ground rules and sticking to them is essential, as is establishing a routine.
This is the time when dogs develop their outlooks on life. Maintaining your own positivity will help your dog become an optimistic individual later in life. It will also strengthen your bond with your pup, allowing you to progress in training more effectively.
There’s a common myth out there that rewards are a cop-out in dog training. It’s simply unrealistic to ask a dog to listen to your requests without offering something in return. Positive, rewards-based training is always the best way to go.
Rewards are the best way to convince your dog to listen in a healthy, consistent manner. Verbal praise and scratches behind the ear can be great, but don’t shy away from treats either!
Easy Things to Teach a Puppy
Many people enjoy teaching their dogs new tricks. And it’s true that there’s nothing cuter than a Golden Retriever pup rolling over.
These types of tricks are often referred to as “vanities.” Although perfectly worthwhile bonding experiences, below we’ll focus on puppy training basics and tricks important to establish your dog’s safety.
Many negative behaviors are born out of fear. Something as simple as an approaching hand can be stressful for a new pup. Teaching your dog to gently touch an oncoming hand will avoid a negative, fearful response and build trust.
Begin by simply offering your dog a hand a few inches from his muzzle. Likely, he will be curious and reach forward to touch it with his nose. Reward this behavior with praise and a well-timed treat. Make sure to repeat the exercise until your dog is comfortable with the idea. You may add a command like “touch” as he begins to understand the concept.
Go to Bed
A dog’s bed should be a happy place. Teaching your pup to go to bed can be a great way to help him de-stress. It’s also a good way to keep him out of trouble when necessary, like if you’re trying to greet guests at the door or get some important work done.
Begin this trick by walking your dog to his bed. Once he arrives, praise him and offer a treat. After a few seconds, usher him off the bed with a quick, upbeat word like “okay!”
Repeat this behavior until you can simply stand near the bed and your pup hops on. Remember to praise graciously and release him after a minute or so.
At this point, you can begin introducing a command like “bed.” As you continue practicing, increase distance and duration.
This trick is essential to keeping your puppy safe. It will give you confidence in asking him to drop delicate or dangerous items he may have picked up.
However, teaching your puppy this trick should be anything but frantic. Exchange games can be an excellent way to start.
When your dog is holding something like a toy in his mouth, offer him a tasty treat. As he begins to drop the toy, say “drop it” and reward him with the treat when he does. Repeat this task until your dog is comfortable.
Soon, you’ll be able to say “drop it” first and then offer the reward.
Leave it is another important command to prevent your dog from getting into prohibited items. Make sure to work on this trick before something dangerous happens.
Begin by presenting a closed fist with a treat inside. Your dog will attempt to get the treat, but do not let him. When he gives up, use a quick affirmative word like “yes” or “good” and offer him a different treat with your other hand. Make absolutely sure that it isn’t the same treat that was in your closed hand!
Repeat until your dog ignores the fist. Begin to open your hand instead. Say, “leave it.” If your dog doesn’t attempt to steal the treat, give him another treat with your other hand. If he does try to steal the treat, close the fist and try again.
Continue adding difficulty by placing a treat on the floor and trying other objects like toys.
It is a puppy training basics must! Everyone wants to teach their dog to stay. However, it can be intimidating to begin teaching such an important skill.
Staying is really an extension of sitting. Your puppy will remain sitting until you release him to get up. When he sits down, give him a treat. Wait a very short time and offer him another treat for remaining seated. Then usher him forward with a short release word like “okay.”
Gradually increase the time between treats as your dog learns the gist of things. Adding distance and distractions will be important as he develops the skill.
It’s All About Attitude
Sure, training a puppy can be stressful. But it’s really about intention. If you provide your puppy with love and patience, he is much more likely to grow up to be an optimistic adult.
Puppyhood is when dogs learn to interact with the world, and that world begins with you. Introduce him to as many new and exciting things as you can.
And always remember a nice long belly rub at the end of the day.