Puppy training isn't an option, it's a necessity, but it doesn't have to be a chore!
Some basic lessons are a must if you want your new puppy to grow up to be well-mannered, obedient, and fun to have around.... and these can be a fun time of games, bonding and love.
But if you're a first-time owner, or it's been a while since you had a young 'un in the house, you may be feeling a little confused about where to start.
For you and your new pup, the first few weeks together set the tone for your whole relationship, so it's important to get off on the right foot, and to start out the way you mean to go on.
That tiny puppy will be an adolescent before you know it, and from there it's just a hop, skip and a jump to full blown adulthood - and those bad habits that seem cute now will be a whole lot less so when Fido weighs 50lbs (or even 120!)
There are a few basic obedience commands your little guy needs to learn, but there's so much more.
Things such as housebreaking and crate training, teaching him to be comfortable and well-behaved in all sorts of situations (this is called 'socialization'), and dealing with problem behaviors such as biting/nipping, barking, food-guarding etc. etc.
On this page you'll find an overview of all of these important puppy training areas, as well as links to pages where you'll find more detailed tips and advice.
It's not only WHAT you teach your puppy that's important, but HOW you teach it.
Positive, rewards based training methods are the only ones that work, and if you follow a few simple principles you'll find the whole process so much easier - and more enjoyable - and so will your new best friend :)
Being clean in the house and knowing that he always needs to use his designated 'potty spot' is one of the most important things that your new puppy needs to learn.
An adult dog who hasn't been properly house-trained is very difficult to live with and many dogs are are abandoned or given up to rescue societies or the local pound every year because they never learned the basics of potty training.
This, of course, is NOT the dog's fault - which makes that whole situation so sad. Any puppy can be housebroken if his owner takes the time to train him properly.
So please take the time & effort to help your puppy learn this very important lesson so you'll both be off to a flying start.
There are some simple rules you can use to help your puppy understand what's expected of him pretty quickly......... and the secret lies in taking the task of housebreaking very seriously, right from day one.
Basic puppy obedience training teaches your puppy good manners and makes him (or her) a better pet, more fun, less stress and someone you're proud to take out-and-about.
With any kind of obedience training, the key things to remember are patience (yes, again), consistency and positive reinforcement (ie. lots of treats and praise).
Dogs are very intelligent and there's a huge range of commands (and even tricks) that you can teach your new puppy.
But for now let's focus on what basic manners/commands he needs to learn in order to become an enjoyable companion and family member........
If you want to be able to get your pup's attention you need to teach him his name!
You start out doing this by using his name whenever you talk to him, play with him, feed him etc. For example, tell him "Good boy Fido" when you're stroking him, or say "Here you are, Fido" when you give him his food.
This will help him to realize that when you say the word 'Fido' it usually has something to do with him.
You can also help kick-start the whole name recognition thing by keeping a stash of tasty treats in your pocket and at quiet times when your pup is nearby, randomly say his name in a happy, upbeat voice.
When he looks up at you and makes eye contact, say "Good Fido" in a happy tone and give him one of those delicious treats.
'Come' is one of the most important commands your pup will ever learn!
For you it means you won't need to run all over the yard trying to catch him (a game which you'll never actually win by the way), but more importantly, it could quite possibly save your puppy's life some day.
If your little guy happens to escape through the front door while you're talking to a neighbor for example, "COME" could mean the difference between him slinking back inside or running out into oncoming traffic.
Unfortunately teaching the recall is one of the most difficult puppy training tasks, and most pups will not be reliable about this for quite some time.
The 'Come' command needs to be practiced over and over and over again, in all sorts of environments and situations.
Your pup needs to learn to 'come' every time you say so, regardless of what he's doing or where you are.
At first, the best way to do this is never to tell your pup to 'come' if he has the option of ignoring you! Practice this command with your pup on a long training leash, or with a length of light-weight rope attached to his collar.
If he doesn't come at once when you call his name and say 'come', gently get his attention by tugging on the leash/rope and repeating the command in a happy voice.
Don't 'reel him in' but continue to tug and encourage until he comes running. Then praise him lavishly and give him a tasty treat.
There's also a fun game you can play with your puppy and assorted family members! Have anywhere between 2 and 6 people sit in a circle, one of them holding your puppy gently by the collar.
Make sure everyone has a supply of his favorite treats and then take it in turns to call his name and reward him with a treat when he comes.
Try to make sure the next person to call him is on the opposite side of the circle so he has to cross open ground to get to them and never let him have a treat from you if you haven't called him.
Teaching your pup to 'sit' on command is one of your easiest tasks.
Most puppies take to this like ducks to water.
First, get yourself a handful of treats then get Fido's attention. With him standing facing you, hold a treat in front of his nose (not close enough for him to grab it though) and then say "Sit" in a firm voice while slowly raising the treat up and away from you, as if to go over his head.
Fido's puppy dog nose will attempt to follow the treat up and in response his rear will go down. As soon as his rump hits the floor, give him the treat and say "good sit". Let him get up and then try it again.
When you're practicing any training exercises, 3 or 4 repeats per session is usually enough for his short attention span,and 3 or 4 sessions per day is ideal.
There are more dog commands that your puppy needs to learn (including 'Down' and 'Stay') plus other important lessons such as basic leash training.
Working on these will help make your life together easier and more fun. There are lots of great dog training books and other training tools such as the popular clicker technique to help you.
I'd also recommend enrolling your puppy in a basic 'Puppy Class' at a local dog obedience school as soon as he's had all of his vaccinations. Taking lessons with other owners and puppies and learning from a professional hands-on trainer is a great experience for both you and your pup.
It's also a wonderful way of getting some socialization for your little guy, in a positive and controlled environment.
Some dog trainers become a household name (like Cesar Millan the Dog Whisperer) and you can find their advice on DVD's, CD's, in books, magazines, on the TV and more.
It's often interesting to watch them work with dogs and pups of all ages and personalities, and you can get some great tips and ideas this way.
A good dog training book is also worth it's weight in gold. Here are some of my favorites. Each one of them has a place on my bookshelves at home......
Puppy behavior problems such as nipping or biting, jumping, nuisance barking, guarding and so on are incredibly common and just about every puppy will have one or two bad habits that you'll need to work on.
Most of these behaviors are rooted in normal canine behavior and interaction, it's not that they're 'bad' behaviors (in the dog world at least), but they are inappropriate as part of a human-dog relationship.
Your puppy really wants to please you and he's just waiting to learn how you expect him to behave, so again it's important to be patient and consistent when correcting normal puppy misbehaviors.
Biting and nipping is probably the most common of these puppy behavior problems and isn't a sign of a mean or vicious puppy, simply a puppy being a puppy! However, you do need to put the brakes that little Piranha fish while his teeth are still tiny.