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How To Train Your New Puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is always exciting, but then the panic can start to set in. After all, you’re now responsible for this tiny little thing, for all of its needs and care, and behavior.

We've all encountered a badly behaved or even aggressive dog, and thought, “My dog will never be like that.” The problem is that properly training a dog needs to start as early as possible - in puppyhood. You need to hit the ground running when it comes to training your new puppy.

Where should you start?

Help Your Puppy Get Comfortable In Their New Home

Start by making your puppy feel comfortable. Your puppy needs to know that this is their home, and they need to feel safe.

Setting up a crate or dog pen is a good idea so that your puppy will have their own space. Show them where the toilet area is - but be prepared to clean up several accidents while your puppy figures out what you want it to do!

Make sure your puppy has bedding, toys, food, and plenty of water. Once your puppy feels at home, you can start training right away.

Teach Your Puppy Their Name

The first step is to teach your puppy its name. We might take their part for granted, but this can be tricky, especially if your puppy has been named something by its previous owners.

Use your puppy’s name as often as you can whenever you play and interact with it. Your puppy should soon learn to recognize their name. Reinforce this as much as you can, and use it to teach your puppy various commands.

Work On Basic Commands

Once your puppy is at home and familiar with its name, now is the time to work on basic commands. It’s never too early to start teaching the basics - in fact, the sooner the better. Here are a few basic commands and skills you should start teaching your puppy right away:

  • Sit

Sit is a classic command and one that puppies can grasp surprisingly easily. This is a good starting place for puppies.

  • Stay

Stay is a little trickier for most pups to grasp, but it’s still a crucial command. Use treats and food items as a reward, if your puppy is food motivated.

  • No

The earlier you teach your pup the meaning of the word no, the easier your life will be!

  • Come

Come is much easier to teach than stay, as puppies naturally want to be with us. Use their names for positive commands, but avoid associating their names with negative commands, like no or drop.

  • Crate Training

Having a secure crate or pen for your puppy is a must. Puppies should never have the run of the house, and you should keep a close eye on them while they’re playing. Crate training can be quite simple, but be sure to get a crate that’s large enough for a growing pup, and don’t leave your puppy in the crate for too long.

  • Managing Separation Anxiety

While puppies shouldn’t be left alone for more than a few hours at a time at most, it’s important to get your puppy used to being alone for short periods of time. Realistically, you won’t be at home with your pup all the time. Start slowly, leaving your puppy alone for ten or fifteen minutes at a time, and gradually build up.

  • House Training

Last but certainly not least, your puppy needs to be toilet trained. Depending on your puppy, your training method, and your consistency, this can take a while, even a few months. Start from the moment you bring your pup home, and stick to your routine.

Set Boundaries

It's good to decide on boundaries before you bring your pup home. Will your new pet be allowed on the sofa, or in the bedrooms? Be sure to start as you mean to go on. If you let your puppy on the bed and couch when they first come home, you’ll find it difficult to train it out of them later.

Giving your pup their own space in the form of a pen or crate is a good way to get your pup used to sleeping alone - not with you!

Be Realistic - And Consistent

Consistency is key. If you change the goalposts all the time or only enforce the rules some of the time, your puppy is going to get confused and frustrated, leading to bad behavior and broken rules. If you want to teach your puppy anything, you need to be consistent.

You also need to be realistic. Dog training does not happen overnight, even with intelligent dogs and experienced trainers. Puppies are going to make mistakes, and accidents in the house are the most common. Housetraining can be a long process, and it’s crucial for you to show patience.

Only use positive reinforcement. If your puppy does an accident in the house, rubbing their nose in it won’t teach them to be afraid of peeing in the house - it’ll teach them to be afraid of you!

Train Your Family, Too!

Don’t forget to train your family! If you’re living alone, then you only need to worry about you training your dog, but if you have a family, it’s important to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

For example, suppose you decide that your puppy won’t be allowed on the sofa. If the kids or your visiting parents let the puppy on the sofa whenever your back is turned, that will confuse your pup. Are they allowed on the sofa, or aren’t they?

If you have a routine for outside toilet trips and mealtimes, changing that routine can lead to puppies doing accidents in the house, or needing the toilet at night.

Make sure that your family all know the rules and boundaries set out for the puppy, and all agree to stick to their guns. This gives you the best chance at training up a good-natured, well-behaved dog - and a well-behaved family!

Best of luck!

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