Puppy training tips so you start your puppy training the right way.
Okay, so you’ve got yourself a new puppy and are wondering what to do next. This post is really just about giving you some puppy training tips so that you can start to think about the training for your puppy. Getting it right now will save you a lot of trouble later. Many of the issues I see later with older dogs I can trace back to the puppy learning them when they first joined their owner. I often say that the puppy is the sum of what we teach them. Sadly within a couple of weeks we have already started to teach the puppy all the things we don’t want to see in our older dog. I offer 1-2-1 puppy training and my practice extends from Ringwood out to Wareham and Blandford to Bournemouth. I am central to these locations as I live near Wimborne
Why is the puppy jumping up?
We actually teach the puppy very early on to jump up our leg. Whilst this may seem cute and great fun when they are younger I can assure you the fun ends when the dog gets older. The problem then is we have to try and teach a dog who found these habits great fun that this behaviour is not acceptable. With the right approach when you first got the puppy you can virtually eliminate this jumping up behaviour because the puppy never found it rewarding in the first place.
My puppy is mouthing or biting me
A common complaint I get with young puppies is that they bite. The reality is the puppy is not really biting it is what we call mouthing. It is exploring the world with its mouth. The issue is they have razor-sharp teeth and so we assume that they are biting. Whichever way it goes it’s painful. When the puppy is with its mother or other siblings then it will learn by inhibition. That is, if the puppy was to mouth play with its mother or siblings too hard then the game would stop and they would let the offender know it was too hard. The puppy would soon learn to adjust this mouthing action so as not to end the game.
Of course the problem comes when the puppy is playing with humans. We can struggle to let the puppy know that this mouthing action is actually painful for us. Then we further complicate the situation by moving our hands around a lot near the puppy and so it thinks it’s a game. We attempt to push the puppy away and of course it latches onto our fingers and we accuse it of biting us. I have tried with some success of making yelping sound when the puppy mouths my hand and I stand up and ignore the puppy. I won’t say this works all the time but it is something you can try. What you do need to do is ensure that if the puppy tries to mouth your hand then the game stops and use a distraction technique I’ve given it an appropriate toy.
Puppy toilet training
An issue that all owners of new puppies are going to have is regarding toilet or house training. I’m not going to write too much here as I do have a page on my website dedicated to puppy training tips on toilet training and you can find that here. However, the simple approach to puppy toilet training is to relax about it, don’t compete with your friends how quickly you can toilet train your puppy and be super vigilant. The other game-breaker is never tell your puppy off if it has an accident in the house. I appreciate it can be frustrating but if you adopt the approach of telling the puppy off then it will start to hide its toilet habits.
Remember from a puppies point of view it is doing nothing wrong and it will quickly associate its toilet habits with you being angry. Puppies try to make us happy so it will go and do its toilet somewhere you can’t see. Hopefully you can see how this will delay your puppy ever becoming toilet trained. Get yourself a qualified dog trainer to help you with toilet training techniques if you are struggling.
I find there’s a lot of confusion around puppy socialisation. Many owners I speak to think it’s about socialising their puppy with other dogs. This is actually a very small part of it and your puppy meeting any dog must be done with great caution. There is actually a page on my website which goes into more depth on this and you can find that here.
So what is puppy socialisation? In a nutshell you need to expose your young dog to your lifestyle and the new world around it. There is a very important. From birth to about 14 to 16 weeks where the puppy soaks up experiences and kind of stores them away for future reference. This is probably a simplistic view of an extremely important time in your puppy’s life. What you need to do when you first get your puppy home is start to introduce it to what happens in your house. You may understand what a vacuum cleaner does. To a puppy this can be a scary monster so you need to introduce the Hoover in a way which won’t freak out the puppy. The same with the hairdryer or any other object which we take for granted, yet the puppy could find scary.
We need to get the puppy used to what’s happening outside. Get them used to going in the car in the crate. If the puppy is under 12 weeks and not yet at its injections then this should not stop you from taking the puppy outside if you use common sense. It is fine to stand at the side of a road holding the puppy and letting it watch the traffic go by. These are all positive experiences which will pay off later.
Once you can take the puppy out start taking it to places where you visit. That might be a shopping centre, a coffee shop, a pub or the high street. It is about exposing your new puppy to your lifestyle in a safe way so that it has positive experiences. However, it is only natural that there will be some negative experiences and how you respond to this will determine how your puppy views the experience.
Don’t reassure the puppy
Let’s say that you drop a cup on the kitchen floor and the puppy runs away. You run over to the puppy and make a big fuss and reassure it. Or you pick up the pieces off the floor and almost ignore the event ever happened. You can then go over to the puppy and play a game. The issue with the first response is that by reassuring the puppy you actually confirm there was an issue. By ignoring what happened you are telling the puppy it was no big deal and actually it caused a game to be played so all is good.
The reality is puppy socialisation is a critical time which lays down the foundations for the development of a calm and confident dog. The problem is once we pass this critical period we can never get this time back, it is too late. Therefore, it is imperative that if you are thinking of getting a puppy then you employ the services of a dog trainer who knows that puppy socialisation is not just about meeting dogs.
Where should I train my puppy?
Where should I train my puppy is a question I often get asked. I suppose I’m somewhat biased given I have both worked in group training classes and has a one-to-one training instructor. Based on a lot of experience of dog training I believe that one-to-one training in an outdoor environment will produce better results. The reason I say this is if your puppy learns basic obedience and lead walking in an indoor setting then it may have difficulty transfer these new skills outside.
This is through no fault of the trainer who is running the session. The onus is on the owner to practice the skills taught in this environment in a variety of other environments so that we proof them. Of course this really happens and I often used to see puppies walking on a nice loose lead in a classroom setting. Once outside going back to the car they pulled and the owner followed.
If your puppy is below 12 weeks then light training should begin. I like to get puppies used to the whistle, a basic sit and the use of a marker word. it is about laying down the foundations for the real training which comes a little later. This time period is also about training you in getting you to understand the world from a dog’s perspective. Being able to do this will give you a greater understanding of my style of teaching and why we approach things in a certain way.
Once we pass the 12 weeks and your puppy is okay to go outside then we will start live environment training. Your puppy will start to learn obedience and manners in the environments that you take them out in everyday. This makes training real for you and the puppy. You become confident in training and being with your puppy in different distraction environments. Initially training might actually be a little bit slower because everything is so interesting to the puppy. However, repeated training in these type of environments and they become normal and less distracting.