Puppy Basic Training
Teaching your puppy the basic rules
Basic dog training rules
Puppy training sessions should be little and often as puppies lose concentration easily. Instead of one half-hour sessions, try and do six five-minute sessions per day.
Only train your puppy when you’re feeling positive and patient. Dogs are very receptive to human emotions, so they’ll be able to tell if you’re stressed or grumpy.
Always finish dog and puppy training sessions on a high with an exercise you know your dog can do easily so you end with success.
In the beginning, train with no distractions. Get the basics down in a quiet setting, and add distractions later, so your dog gets used to lots of different environments and situations.
Training is most successful and effective when it’s reward-based. Make sure to use lots of toys, treats, and cuddles. Never punish or scold your puppy if things aren’t quite going to plan.
Once your dog has learned an exercise or trick, swap food-based treats for toys. If you are using food-based treats, make sure you remove the quantity from their daily food allowance to avoid weight gain.
Teaching your puppy to sit
This is a great, easy training exercise to start out with:
Teaching your puppy to lie down
This is another basic command that your puppy should easily master. However, be careful not to confuse him by saying ‘down; if you want him to get off the sofa or to stop pawing at your legs. Use OFF for those commands instead, and reward him when he obeys you.
Teaching your puppy recall
Teaching your puppy to come when called (also known as ‘recall’) is one of the most important things that you can teach your puppy. The key to success if to start early, ideally as soon as you take him home as puppies love following their owners around. By six months old your puppy will become more independent and the recall will be harder to teach.
A great technique for new puppies is to make use of their kibble ball. Shake the kibble ball to get his attention. When he comes to you give him the piece of kibble and offer lots of praise. This helps your puppy to associate coming to you as a positive experience.
Ask a friend or family member to help you with this.
If he shoots off in the opposite direction and ignores your calls, don’t chase him – he’ll think it’s a game! Instead, run away in the opposite direction. Your puppy will be confused and end up chasing you. This will teach him to keep a close eye on you when you’re out and about, in case he accidentally loses you. Make sure to always remain calm and patient during this exercise. If you shout or punish your puppy, especially when he finally arrives, it may confuse him. Plus, your puppy needs to associate coming to you as a positive experience, yelling will only retract all of the hard work you’ve already put in.
Teaching your puppy 'down-stay'
Puppies are not the best at staying still. But with short, frequent practise sessions, this useful exercise can be mastered.
Teaching your puppy 'No'
Your puppy will actively seek your approval so any form of training works best when you reward good behaviour and ignore the bad. However, sometimes it is important to show your puppy that their behaviour isn’t acceptable. Rather than shouting or constantly saying ‘no’, teach your dog a signal that tells him to stop what they’re doing.
Teaching and training your puppy to learn the ‘no’ signal can be done with dog-training discs (unless your puppy is nervous or easily frightened by sudden noises). These are five metal discs, a little like mini cymbals, joined together on a key fob. You can hold them silently, but at the precise moment, you need to say ‘no’ they can be dropped to make a unique sound your dog isn’t likely to hear anywhere else.
From the beginning, it’s important that your new puppy understands the different between the ‘toilet’ area of your garden, and the area for playing. One tactic is to use a bell.
Remember to keep their toilet area clean by clearing up any soiling straight away – this will help to encourage them to go back, as any leftover mess can put them off, and they may begin to look for other areas. If they sniff around but don’t do anything, remember to be patient – you might have to wait for a few minutes. If they still don’t go, carry them back inside, following the same routine every time. Watch them carefully for their first five minutes or so back inside (or earlier if you see any warning signs) and try to take them outside again. For the first couple of weeks, take your puppy out to go to the toilet as soon as you get up, lifting them out of their crate and carrying your puppy outside. Remember to use the special word (toilet) and give a treat and praise each time they get things right. You’ll quickly get unto a routine and have a well-trained puppy.
Accidents will happen, especially in the beginning, but if your puppy does make a mess in the house it’s important to stay calm and remember that it’s all part of the learning process. If you find a puddle or a mess, whether or not you were there when it happened, just clean it up without making an issue out of it. Ideally, do it when your puppy isn’t watching you. Never get angry or shout – it’s unfair to punish them for something that comes naturally to them. If you happen to catch them in the act, calmly take them outside to the toilet area to finish off what they’ve started, then clean the floor thoroughly with a neutralising spray so there’s no smell that your pet can associate with a toilet area. The more work you put into getting toilet training a puppy, the faster they’ll pick it up.
Once your puppy is happy walking around with the lead attached to his collar, you can then start teaching him to walk alongside you. The most important thing to try and remember is that the lead is just there for safety and security – it shouldn’t be something either of you pull on!
Get your puppy’s attention by saying his name and showing them a treat. Use it to lure them to your side and then take a few steps forward. Your puppy should follow the treat, walking alongside you. Keep your hand low so he doesn’t jump up and after a few steps reward him with the treat.
Gradually increase the number of steps before you give your puppy the treat and soon you’ll be able to say his name and walk forward – and he’ll happily come with you without the need of a treat.
You can reward him at the end after you have done as many steps as you think your puppy can manage without losing concentration.
If your puppy gets bored, distracted, or falls behind, just be patient. Never yank on the lead or lose your temper.
If he is pulling on his lead or refuses to walk without dragging you then you should consider trying an anti-pull harness. Never use a choke chain.
Harnesses enable you to have safe control over your puppy. You need to make sure that you have the right size harness for the size of your puppy and, as training with the collar, start by putting your puppy in the harness for short periods of time. Then he will associate the harness with a pleasant experience of going for a walk. If you are really struggling, find a local trainer who can help you.
How to introduce a new puppy to your old dog
Bringing your new puppy home is an exciting time for the entire family! However, if you have an older dog at home, you might be wondering how to introduce the new puppy to them. Puppies don’t understand the ‘dog world’ the way your older dog does. With some preparation, however, you can make the meeting a success. Here’s how to introduce your two furry family members to each other.
Before the Introduction
Before you bring your new puppy home:
- Put away your older dog’s favourite chews and toys, to avoid territorial behaviour.
- Create spaces in your home where both dogs can get away from the other.
- Buy separate food dishes to prevent possessive aggression.
- Ensure both dogs are up-to-date with their vaccinations.
During the Introduction
Your older dog will consider your house his house. In order to prevent territorial aggression, find a neutral area to introduce the older dog to the new puppy. Put your older dog on a lead while another person holds the puppy on a lead. Do let them sniff and meet each other; there’s no need to hold them tightly to your side. You don’t want them to feel restricted.
The initial introduction should be relatively quick.
Remain calm through the meeting. Both dogs will sense any tension and will more likely be stressed if you are.
For the first week or two, the older dog and puppy should be continuously monitored to ensure the dogs are comfortable with one another. Follow your older dog’s regular routine. Begin establishing a routine for the puppy as well, to provide the necessary structure.
Watching your dogs’ body language for the first several weeks will help you gauge how they’re reacting to one another. If the puppy is young, he may not understand the body language of the adult dog very well. For instance, the puppy will likely want to play even if the older dog is showing signs of discomfort.
What body language should you watch out for?
- Raised fur on the back of the neck/back
- Prolonged stares
- Display of teeth
- Hunched back
What Not to do
What to do instead
The bottom line
Following the steps above will result in an easier transition for both the puppy and your older dog. They’re both likely to feel more comfortable with one another and become ‘friends’ faster if you help them get to know each other comfortably.