You’ve been through many sleepless nights and have a few chewed up shoes. Yep, you’re definitely a new puppy parent! The first couple of months with a new puppy are the most joyous and the most frustrating all at the same time. Sometimes they are cute, cuddly and all you feel is love inside for them. Other times you wonder why on earth you decided to get this little ball of energy. The training period is a “ruff” one, but with the help of these puppy training tips, you and your fur baby will be on the same page in no time!
Puppy Training Tips for New Owners
- The ‘Sit’ Command
This simple but important command develops a bond and establishes who the pack leader is. It’s best to implement this practice early on in the relationship.
Practice these steps:
- Start with a treat in your hand and your puppy in front of you.
- Move your hand towards your puppy’s nose.
- Keep moving your hand back against your puppy’s nose until your puppy has put his bottom on the floor.
- Once your puppy has his bottom on the floor, say ‘sit,’ and give him the treat. Then provide affirmation, such as ‘good sit,’ with affection.
Repeat the exercise at least 5 to 6 times per day until he starts to sit from the verbal command only. It shouldn’t take long for them to learn this concept. However, every puppy is different so timing will vary. This command is a great way to get your puppy refocused in on you when he’s hyper or when it’s time to put his leash on and go for a W-A-L-K.
- The ‘Come’ Command
This is one of the more extensive puppy training commands, because it takes more time to perfect. You’ll find consistency is the key for this command. Although it takes time it is critical to know for moments such as your puppy slipping out the door running into the front yard.
This command is a two part process, which involves teaching your puppy to ‘stay’ as well as ‘come.’ Use a treat as a reinforcement tool and practice these steps:
Start with your puppy right in front of you and give him the ‘sit’ command.
- Hold a treat in your non-dominant hand, and, with your dominant hand, put the palm up in front of your puppy’s face. Say ‘stay’ in a firm tone. If your puppy does not move, give him the treat and provide affirmation with affection, such as ‘good stay.’
- Repeat the process three or four times.
- When you think your puppy understands the process, do the same exercise again, but, this time, say ‘stay,’ give him the physical command, and take one step back. If your puppy stays, go ahead and give him the treat and provide affirmation with affection, such as ‘good stay.’ However, if the puppy moves when you move, put him back in the sit position and start the process over again.
- Once the puppy understands that he is supposed to stay, and you are able to back up about five steps, add in the ‘come’ command. Once you say ‘stay,’ give the physical command and back up about 5 steps, give the dog a few seconds to digest the situation, and then say ‘Your Dog’s Name, come’ (For example: Oreo, Come!). Now make him sit before giving the treat. Once he comes and sits down, then give him the treat and provide affirmation with affection, such as ‘good come.’
The backyard is a good place to teach and practice and when you feel comfortable that your puppy knows the command you can gradually move into the front yard. A fairly long leash is a good way to practice and a backup if you need it.
Although this command is tedious and will take patience from you and your puppy respectively, it creates a close bond will pay off in the long run!
- Why Positive Reinforcement with Treats is something to Bark About
Treats are a great way to reward your puppy’s good behavior and ensure they are learning commands the correct way. Treats are validation for them that they performed the command correctly, which will make them more inclined to do it that way again.
Positive reinforcement is a two-way street and it’s important to have your timing line up with their good behavior. Reinforcement is not only for good behavior but also a factor in forming habits.
For example, if your puppy paws at you while you’re on the couch and you pet him, he will think that is all he needs to do to get attention. Teach commands and good behavior shortly after you bring them home and continue reinforcement throughout. Bad habits form quickly and take more practice and reinforcement to break.
- The Right Amount of Affection
Affection is very important for developing a close bond but needs to be given in doses. When he or she is a tiny little ball of fur it’s hard not to constantly coddle and show them affection. It’s all about giving it at the correct time to establish discipline.
It’s natural for affection to decrease as your puppy gets bigger, but it’s equally important to give it to them when they’re older. Here a few things to keep in mind:
- Always reinforce good behavior with affection.
- After you have taken your puppy for a walk, fed your puppy, and after your puppy has taken a nap, make sure you give your puppy lots of affection to ensure that your puppy remains calm after acts that could cause remarkably high energy behavior.
- Provide affection if you have seen changed behavior (for example, if your puppy stops pawing you, provide affection – changed unwanted behavior is the perfect time to provide extra affection).
- During training sessions, when your puppy is learning new commands, use affections to reinforce the lesson.
- During unusual circumstances, such as storms or other situations
Know that your puppy is a part of your family and needs loves, attention and respect just like your other family members do. When there is a mutual respect and love between dog and owner, they listen to you and learn better.
- It Takes Time
One of the most important puppy training tips for a new owner is to be consistent. What you put into it is what you will get out of it. Other members of the household must also be involved in the training so ground rules are established across the board.
A “no paws” rule is important to start off in the beginning for everyone in the family. The puppy will be less likely to jump on guests or strangers if it’s already a common practice in the household. The same practice goes for whether the puppy is allowed to get on the furniture. Everyone must participate for the puppy to learn properly.
Stay patient with your new fur baby. They’re doing their best!
What to Expect
Maybe you’ve had many dogs in your lifetime, or perhaps this is your first. Try not to compare your new puppy with a previous experience or another dog in your home. Go into training with realistic expectations that it takes a different amount of time for every puppy to learn. Start early with positive reinforcement, affection and consistency. We know you can do it! We’re woofin’ for ya.
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