There’s nothing quite like the excitement of getting a new puppy.
The fantasy begins before you even bring your new bundle home. You’ve been envisioning life with this amazing dog, one you can take anywhere, who will come when you call, listen and respond to your every cue, who lies patiently on their bed while you’re busy and walks nicely on the leash, never pulling you off your feet (like the poor neighbor lady you see every morning.)
And now that you’ve brought your new puppy home you’re thrilled at the possibilities. It’s SO cute and SO much fun!
It doesn’t take long to realize that like all new babies, they’re a lot of work too! This is a sweet bundle of energy with razor sharp puppy teeth and not a clue that piddling on the rug is not a great idea!
Getting a new puppy can be overwhelming. There’s so much to think about – the new puppy gear, equipment, schedules, routines, training terminology, veterinary and health terminology, vaccines, proper nutrition, manners, management, socializing…the list goes on and on!
And what about training? Where should you start with puppy training? What skills should you teach first? When should you begin?
Let’s answer your questions so that you feel confident you’re giving your new puppy the best start to a happy, mutually respectful, and fulfilling relationship with you.
Where do I begin with my new puppy?
First, make things easy on yourself. Get the support you need so you feel empowered to raise this puppy to become the healthy, happy dog you’ve been envisioning.
- Find professionals that you trust and let them help you. It's what they're for!
- Find a veterinarian that you trust and let them handle the medical. You can educate yourself as you go or learn about it once you get your feet wet a bit.
- Find a knowledgeable pet food source who can answer your questions and is willing to work with you to find the right diet for each stage of puppyhood.
- Find a trainer who shares your training philosophy. Whether you choose DIY online classes, in person classes, private lessons, dog school, etc., find someone you are comfortable with. Relax and let them guide you and answer all your questions.
When should I start training my puppy?
You can start training your new puppy right away! This helps them gain the confidence to predict the consequences of their actions so that they choose behaviors that produce good feelings – and treats and pets and delighted, “What a good pup!!” sounds from their new family.
Training helps a new puppy make sense of the world.
Establishing rules, boundaries, and routines will help your new puppy feel safe and loved. It helps them grow into the well-mannered dog you’ve been envisioning.
What should I train my new puppy first?
While training is critical to developing a loving, trusting bond with your new pup, it also makes life as a new puppy parent easier for YOU.
You want to do the very best for your puppy and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with it all.
Take “commands.” We call them cues. There’s:
- sit, down, stay, look, drop it, leave it, wait, come, touch, up, off, walk, settle, heel, take it, stand, and more!
Yikes! Do you need to teach your new puppy all of these things?? NO!
Start with what you NEED and keep it simple.
For example, teaching just one cue can get the results you want without teaching several cues.
Teaching them to look at you when you say their name replaces “look” and “leave it” because if they're looking at you, they're taking their attention off something else!
Begin small with just what you need first:
- Name, Look, or Leave it
- Sit, Down, or Settle
- Wait or Stay
- Come or Touch
- Let's Go or Heel
You can probably cut down on at least half of the cues needed for your dog to be super around the house.
Once you have a few, instead of continuing to teach more and more, just focus on mastering those skills.
You'll multiply your efforts by focusing on FEWER skills and making those awesome!
How should I train my new puppy?
Whether you opt for in person puppy training, group puppy classes, or online training, at some point your puppy will be at home with you, without the comforting presence of a pro. And you know what? You’ll be okay!
Just follow these tips:
- Always use positive reinforcement. People may tell you to “rub their nose in it” to teach potty training or to spank your dog to get them to stop what they’re doing. These people may be well meaning, but they are terribly misguided. DON’T LISTEN TO THIS ADVICE. Punishment, leash “corrections,” and physical pain confuse your dog and erode the trust you’re trying to build.
- Remember we can’t ask a puppy to know what they haven’t been taught yet. Patience is really important. “Catch your pup being good” and reward them for making the right choices.
- Use rewards they really care about. The currency for every puppy may be different. While most would do anything for a little training treat, some may be “meh” on food but ecstatic about a little play with a toy! Use whatever reward floats your puppy’s boat and heap on the verbal praise at the same time. That way, you can slowly replace the reward with verbal praise from time to time as your puppy learns and grows.
- Keep your training sessions short and sweet. Just five to ten minutes, always ending on a positive note, will reinforce the skills they’ve been learning. Don’t panic if your pup is having difficulty learning a skill or seems bored or frustrated, just return to a skill they have down pat, reward, and end the session. Don’t push. That’s counterproductive. You can revisit it another day!
- Be consistent. You knew this tip was coming because it’s the key for all of us when we’re learning something new! Sticking with a routine, reinforcing good behavior, and daily practice will turn that goofy puppy into a well-mannered dog.
Congratulations…you’re going to be a fantastic puppy parent! And by following these guidelines, soon you’ll be the proud parent of a polite, well-mannered dog.
If you need help or guidance in getting you and your puppy off on the right paw, visit Sit n’ Stay Dog Training. We have many options for puppy – and people – training to fit your schedule, your preferences, and your budget. We use only force-free, positive training methods both you and your puppy can feel good about. We focus on helping you and your pup develop loving, trusting, mutually respectful relationships that last a lifetime!