Puppy Training Basics

Welcome to life with your new best friend!

Right now you’re probably smitten with your new puppy and determined to give it the best of everything. It can be tempting to give in to puppy dog eyes and give your furry bundle a long leash but starting puppy training as early as possible is best for a long list of reasons.

Not only does it create an unbreakable bond between you and your dog, but it also instils good habits while the puppy is young enough for their behaviour to be mouldable.

At Vetwest we care about the health and happiness of your furry family members. Our family vets and animal behaviour experts have shared their top tips on how to train your puppy. So for everything from potty training a puppy, to the right way to reward Rover, here’s our puppy training guide.

How Dogs Learn

Whether you’re starting dog training classes or training your puppy at home, it’s important to remember dogs don’t act on the same emotions as humans. They might be greedy eaters and wary of strangers like a toddler, but those are innate behaviours that remind us puppies are concerned only with safe and unsafe.

Puppy training teaches young dogs right and wrong by focusing on this idea of safe and unsafe:

  • Safe behaviour is right, and should be rewarded
  • Unsafe behaviour is wrong, and should not be rewarded

Rewards are a great way to teach puppies right from wrong. We recommend using food as a reward because it has more value to young dogs than praise or toys, but you should also use verbal praise and affection to reinforce good behaviour.

Read up on how to teach ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘come’ with rewards based training.

Tips for Training

Puppy training can be tricky sometimes. We’re here to help, with tips based on numerous years in the animal behaviour business.

  • Puppy training should be fun – Don’t try to teach your dog new commands when you (or they) are stressed, tired or sick. Integrating training with morning or afternoon walks an easy way to capture your dog’s attention while they are in a good mood.
  • One command is enough – Repeating commands may encourage your dog to switch off and ignore you. Say it once, and don’t reward them until they listen the first time.
  • Make it easy to succeed – Save the tricky training for dog training classes. At home, make it easy for your puppy to succeed so they can be clear on what you expect.
  • Be careful of overdoing food rewards – Dogs are notorious for having a snack hankering. To make a behaviour stick long-term, reduce food rewards and focus on affection or verbal praise when you’re nearly there.

Avoid Using Punishment to Train Your Dog

Using rewards for good behaviour, and no reward or at most a stern “no!” for bad behaviour, is enough for dogs to understand your expectations and not become aggressive. You want to build a healthy bond with your puppy, not teach them to fear punishment.

For example, many people think the best way to potty train a puppy is to “rub their nose in it”, but this is not productive unless you catch your dog in the act.

More Tips For Training Your Puppy

Want to learn more about how to make a dog sit, stay, come or tips for walking your dog on a loose lead – read this quick guide: /pet-library/training-basics-starting-off-on-the-right-paw/

How to Instil Good Behaviour in Your Puppy
If you’re looking for some quick and easy tips on how to train your puppy, you’re in the right place. Here are our 7 steps for puppy owners (and you can find more information here):

  1. Do your research on the best breeds for your lifestyle, family and home, and where to find a puppy.
  2. Be ready to train your puppy as soon as they arrive home, including having realistic expectations and knowing how to evaluate their progress.
  3. Give your puppy the best start in their puppy training by making it at easy as possible for them to acclimatise and learn in a healthy environment.
  4. Focus on housetraining to teach your pup the rules of the house before you let them loose.
  5. Socialise your puppy with people; a good rule of thumb is they should meet 100 people before 8 weeks of age and another 100 in the next month.
  6. Teach “soft mouth” to deter your dog from biting people and other dogs, even from aggression (read more about puppy biting and nipping).
  7. Continue socialising to avoid regression as your puppy approaches adolescence.

How to Stop Your Dog Jumping Up

Every dog owner loves being greeted by an enthusiastic puppy when they come home from work. It’s understandable you want to give them a big cuddle as soon as you step through the door – and you absolutely should!

Just make sure you make it a part of your puppy training program to teach “paws on the floor”. Reward your pup when they show affection without jumping up. Later this means your dog won’t jump on strangers who could be frightened or harmed by a heavy dog.

This is one puppy training technique that involves family and friends. Encourage visitors, kids and friends you meet in public to follow this guide to stopping dogs for jumping up. Confusing signals can be distressing for dogs, so raising a pup takes a village.

Benefits of Taking Your Puppy To Obedience Training

Our healthcare team advise every puppy owner to enrol their new pet in puppy preschool to give your pup the best start in life.

You’ll gain an incredible amount of knowledge and practical skills as a pet owner and develop a closer bond with your puppy in the process. Plus it’s a great chance to teach young dogs those important social skills.

If you’re curious to learn more about puppy training classes find out more here.

House Training Your Puppy

It has to be said: accidents happen. Puppy owners will tell you of the times they found unwanted surprises on the carpet, in the living room or under the bed.

However, learning how to potty train a puppy is just one of the things to read up on on before you bring home your new furry family member. You will also need to teach your puppy what they can and can’t chew, where they are allowed to sleep, where they are fed, how to use the doggy door if you have one – the list goes on!

Providing for your puppy’s needs and supervising as often as you can when you first bring them home will lay the foundation for good behaviour. House training your puppy is a commitment but certainly worth the effort to enjoy a long life with an obedient, healthy and trustworthy companion.

Teaching Your Puppy Table Manners

Meal time should be a family affair – but that doesn’t mean your puppy should get a seat at the table! Begging for food, whether you consider it cute or annoying, can be un-learned almost as quickly as it’s learned.

Set a feeding routine for your animals, prevent your dog from being in the dining room during dinner, and don’t give in to those puppy dog eyes if you want to discourage your dog from begging. For a softer approach you can teach good manners by rewarding patience at the table.

A well-mannered dog will make meals less stressful, impress dinner guests and teach good behaviour all at once.

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