Training a New Puppy

Who doesn’t love puppies?  They are cute, cuddly and fun to play with.  But they also whine, bark, chew on your shoes, pee on your carpet and beg at the dinner table.  And did we mention those teeth?  They are like needles and seem to come out of nowhere when we least expect it.  Ah yes, who doesn’t love puppies?

While puppies are most definitely cute and cuddly, they can also test our patience.  Here are a few tips that will help train your puppy to be obedient and well trained and will help maintain your sanity in the process.

But first, a few basic considerations:

- Remember that puppies, like small children, have short attention spans.  Don’t go overboard with long training sessions.

- Make sure you are clear with your expectations of the behavior you want to see.  Be consistent with what you will reward and what you will not.  Laughing at disobedience or destructive behavior will not teach your puppy what acceptable behavior looks like.

- Consider every place you go to be part of your puppy’s training ground.  Your expectations and what you reward should be consistent no matter where you go.

On to the tips:

Expose your puppy to a wide range of experiences.  Your puppy needs to be exposed to people, children, other dogs, and wildlife.  This is a perfect opportunity to reward acceptable behavior around other people, dogs and wildlife. The more comfortable and well-adjusted they become in a variety of settings, the more socialized they will become.

We often think of house training as making sure our pet doesn’t pee on the carpet.  But there is much more to it than that.  And this is where consistency is key.  Here are just a few areas to highlight:

- Potty training – Take your puppy out to potty frequently and reward him or her for using the potty outside.  Suggested times would be immediately after a nap, after eating, after playing, etc.  Also watch for cues from your puppy to see what type of behavior occurs just prior to having an accident in the home.

- Crate training – Teaching your puppy to feel at home in a crate for brief periods of time is an effective tool in a number of ways.  It reduces your puppy’s opportunity to chew and engage in destructive behavior.  It will become your puppy’s happy place where he or she feels safe and secure.  It can also become an additional potty-training resource by immediately taking your puppy out to potty immediately after being removed from the crate.

- Destructive behavior – Let’s face it, puppies chew stuff.  Make sure you have toys on hand that you can use to redirect your puppy’s chewing behavior from unacceptable items to their toys.  Redirecting your puppy’s attention to a toy is much more effective in curbing destructive behavior than simply scolding the inappropriate behavior.

- Biting – Let’s face it, puppies bite.  And it hurts.  One effective technique is to end playtime when your puppy bites.  Another effective technique is to immediately give your puppy a chew toy to teach them what they may appropriately bite.  It can also be effective to say ouch and withdraw your hand.  Whichever you choose, end the playtime every time your puppy bites.

- Give serious consideration to obedience school specifically tailored for puppies.  A reputable obedience school will cover all of the important aspects of training your puppy, and will also provide you with tools and resources you can use at home to reinforce what your puppy has learned.

We have covered just a few of the tips that will help get your puppy started off on the right paw.  For more comprehensive information, we have included links to three highly informative articles on puppy training.  We urge you to read these articles thoroughly to provide you with all the information you need to make sure your new puppy is happy and well adjusted, and your sanity remains intact. Also, be sure to ask us for your FREE Puppy Booklet from Ashby Animal Clinic!