Your new puppy is a welcome and adorable addition to your family. For some pet owners, however, that impression only lasts until they start chewing up your socks and soiling the furniture. To save your belongings (and peace of mind), it’s important to start training your puppy as early as possible.
From day one with your new puppy, you should attempt to instill good behavior, make sure they recognize you as the “leader of the pack,” and teach them to obey your orders. No matter how much fun it is to destroy the house plants – and we admit that it’s probably very fun – the earlier your puppy is trained out of destructive behaviors, the better.
By designing a puppy training plan early, you can ensure that your buddy is safer, healthier, and happier. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Establish routines. Your puppy needs to feel safe and comfortable in their new home. To provide this sense of security, make sure they know where all the important stuff is, including food and water bowls, bed, and toys. Set up a schedule for meal times, walks, potty breaks, going to bed, and waking up. A reliable schedule helps your puppy learn to trust you as their caretaker and leader.
2. Start simple. No matter how young your puppy is, you’ve got to start with the basics before you move on to more complex commands. For example, start off teaching them simple vocabulary words like “No” or “Good,” with the appropriate reinforcement, before you move to more involved commands, like “Come” or “Stay.” Don’t move on to complex commands until your puppy has completely mastered the basics, otherwise you risk confusing or frustrating them. Learn to read their body language so you know how they’re feeling.
Also, be aware of your puppy’s limits! Puppies cannot physically control their bladders until they are 2-3 months old, so expecting a perfectly housetrained puppy before that is not realistic. In the meantime, though, you can begin to work on their behavior, so that training them to go outside reliably will be easier. Do your research and talk to your vet about your puppy’s abilities before you begin your training program.
3. Teach respect, not treats. As tempting as it is to rely on treats and rewards to teach your puppy new commands, it can actually be detrimental in the long run. Any time they decide they’re not hungry for a treat, or they’re simply having too much fun to stop for one, your commands won’t work. Your puppy must respect you and obey you because you are their leader, not because they want a nibble. To accomplish this, you’ll need to exhibit discipline in order for your dog to learn the same.
4. Be firm, but kind. Of course, using respect training instead of “biscuit training” doesn’t mean your puppy doesn’t ever get any treats. Training is all about keeping your puppy safe and healthy, and kindness is a big part of that. So give your puppy commands in a firm tone of voice and make sure they respect you, but still make sure to give them plenty of playtime and affection.
5. Training shouldn’t be torture. If your puppy hates your training sessions, it isn’t effective for either of you. Resentment may make them less obedient or receptive. Keep training sessions short—especially in the beginning and when your puppy is very young—and let them relax or play afterward. Your puppy will see everything as a game, so keep them stimulated by changing up what they learn each day.
6. Schedule your puppy’s first vet appointment! One of the most important steps in training your puppy is introducing them to their veterinarian. Noah’s Ark offers special puppy care and wellness visits, where we give them a full “nose to tail” physical examination and address any questions or concerns you have about training, nutrition, vaccinations, grooming, and other puppy-related concerns. Even if you are an experienced pet owner, each pet is unique. The more educated you are about your new puppy, the better you will be able to take care of them.
We strive to offer you the support and information you need. Talk to your vet before and after you adopt a puppy so you’re ready to handle anything that happens. Your furniture and carpet will thank you.