You’ve got your new bundle of fur. Now it’s time they learn the ropes. It’s great for you, great for bonding, and helps your puppy understand how they fit into the family.
Get started with puppy training basics now and you’ll have a well-rounded and well-behaved adult dog. And, because it’s never too early to start (you can begin as soon as your puppy settles into your home), training can become part of their daily routine.
Plus, it’s really fun.
How to start training your puppy
These are bonding sessions as much as learning ones. Treat this time with your puppy as something you can both look forward to, by keeping things fun and upbeat.
You can do this by rewarding them when they get it right with lots of healthy puppy treats and positive reinforcement. This is how your puppy learns what you want from them.
- Be consistent
- Keep sessions short and sweet (especially at first)
- Use the same words and actions for commands (different phrases for the same commands will confuse your puppy)
- End on a positive note.
How to discipline a puppy
Chewing a favourite shoe, peeing and pooing where they shouldn’t, being sick, puppies learn with their mouths and shouting isn’t going to help. Good discipline isn’t showing your puppy who’s boss. Many studies say punishment isn’t as effective as we once believed – and punishing or shouting at your puppy can cause more problems down the road.
Punishment not only damages your bond, but it can make your puppy fearful or nervous.
Top tip: reward the good, ignore the bad. Master this and you’ll have a much better relationship – and see better results.
The best way to train a puppy is through positive reinforcement:
- Offer gentle encouragement by rewarding good behaviours.
- Ignore any undesirable behaviours
- Or step in and teach more appropriate ones.
Top puppy training tips
When it comes to success, training your puppy needs these three things: repetition, patience and consistency. It’s as much for you as your dog. Practice regularly and commands will quickly become second nature. If your puppy starts losing focus, becomes sleepy or distracted, quit while you’re ahead and try again next time.
Here are a few basic commands you can try at home.
The useful all-rounder if you need to distract your puppy or stop them from doing something they shouldn’t.
- Hold a treat in front of your puppy’s nose, then start moving the treat up and over their head.
- As they focus on it, your puppy will naturally fall into the sitting position.
- When they sit, reward them for a job well done.
- Then start introducing the word ‘sit’ so they learn to associate the word with the action.
How to get your puppy’s attention and help them settle on command.
- Hold the treat in front of your puppy, then slowly lower it to the floor.
- As they follow the treat with their nose they should naturally lie down.
- When your puppy is down, praise and give them the treat.
- When they start getting it, pair the action with the word ‘down.’
A great lesson in patience – not something puppies are known for! You’ll need this one throughout your dog’s life – from greeting people at the door to when you want to catch up with them in a muddy field.
- First, ask your pup to sit or lay down
- Hold up your hand and take one step away
- If your puppy stays in place, reward them immediately
- Slowly move further away from your puppy each time, then praise and reward them when they do!
Related blog: Crate training a puppy