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How to Train a Puppy

Methods and Techniques for Training Your Puppy

By Lauren Leonardi. November 27, 2012 | See Comments

How to Train a Puppy

Training your puppy is one of the best things you can do for them, and for yourself. Teaching your puppy the rules, boundaries, and limits of their new home is important to their development, and to your relationship with them.

Training your puppy is one of the best things you can do for them, and for yourself. Teaching your puppy the rules, boundaries, and limits of their new home is important to their development, and to your relationship with them. Puppies thrive when limits are clear. Learning new things also keeps their mind engaged - a bored puppy tends to be a troublesome puppy.

Socialize Your Puppy

It will be best for your puppy if, at an early age, they’re comfortable with both people and other dogs. Helping them to be comfortable is as simple as putting them in dynamic situations, and not sheltering them too much from the outside world. Once they’re clear that there’s no need to fear other creatures, they’ll be at ease, and a whole host of behavior issues can be avoided.

Create Boundaries, and Make Them Clear To Your Puppy

Together with your family, preferably before you bring a new puppy home, discuss what the house rules will be. Will puppy be allowed on the furniture? Will they have to sit before receiving treats or a meal? Are all areas of the house accessible to them? Being clear with your housemates or your family will help prevent your own misunderstandings from being taken out on your new puppy.

Agree on Commands, and Only Use Those Words

Dogs can learn dozens and dozens of words in their lifetime. Most puppies can learn a whole array of useful commands like “stop” or “be still,” so don't stop your training at "sit." Whatever the command, consistency and repetition will get you and your puppy where you need to be.

Most trainers start with basic commands like "sit," "stay," "come," "wait," and "drop it." These are excellent places to begin. Whatever the words or commands, keep training sessions short and sweet. Several times a day, for just a few minutes at a time, practice using your dog’s new commands. If they or you begin to feel frustrated, call it quits for the time being. Remember, every activity, including walks and mealtimes, are opportunities to review commands.

How to Stop Biting, Chewing, Jumping, and Other Puppy Behavior

Jumping:

A tiny puppy jumping in your lap is a delightful indulgence...until that puppy all of the sudden weighs eighty pounds and knocks you over with their enthusiasm. Rules like no jumping must be established early on.

Different trainers have different methods for discouraging jumping. Some say when your puppy jumps up, turn your back and ignore them. Others suggest pushing or prodding the puppy off you, and using a command like, “off.” Whichever method you choose, remember that your puppy isn’t being bad. They’re just being themselves. We need to teach them the rules of the human world with patience and perseverance. Be calm, but firm. Always be consistent. Make sure everyone who interacts with your puppy knows to respect the same rules.

Biting:

All puppies will nip and bite during play. If a puppy bites too hard during play, let them know they’ve hurt you. You can do this by issuing a squeal as other puppies in a litter might do, or by issuing a stern command like, “no biting.” Never lash out or strike your puppy, even when their sharp little teeth really hurt. When you see your puppy begin to bite more gently, or use a “soft mouth,” reward that behavior. It means they’re starting to get it. Socializing a puppy early and often with other dogs will help with the nipping. Puppies learn from each other how hard is too hard to bite.

Chewing:

Puppies will be compelled to chew, which is not at all a surprise to anyone who’s raised a puppy. Stopping inappropriate chewing can be resolved, in part, by redirecting. Jenna Stregowski, RVM says, “Pointing your puppy to appropriate toys is another part of chew training. It's not enough to tell your dog no when he picks up something you don't want him to have. Instead, you need to redirect him to something he can have, such as a dog chew or a Kong.”

Training Methods

There are several schools of thought when it comes to training a puppy.

Some prefer dominance methodologies, where the person actively tries to become the puppy’s “pack leader” and then mimics behaviors a canine pack leader might exhibit to keep members of the pack in line.

Others prefer clicker training, which helps puppies associate desired outcomes with positive rewards like treats, and then a sound, till the behaviors are habit.

Still others are perfectly content to offer treats forever, ad infinitum, for a dog’s whole life, as long as the dog does what is being asked of them.

Whichever methodology feels right to you, they all seem to be effective when applied with consistency and love. Better one method than no method at all, which can lead to an untrained puppy who’s often getting scolded or punished for behavior they don’t realize is naughty.

Remember, if you’re feeling frustrated, move on to something else in the moment. Whichever method you choose, be consistent, patient, and stick with it for the long haul.

More on Training a Dog

5 Steps to Dog Obedience Training
The 20 Dog Commands to Teach Your Dog

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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Puppy Training at a glance

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  • 1Socialize your puppy early and often
  • 2Always be clear with your human family on what the rules should be for four-legged family members
  • 3Choose a training method, choose commands, and above all be consistent, calm, and patient