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Training your new puppy

The dog on the field

In our last blog we explained how to introduce your new bundle of energy into your life.

This month we’re going to take a look at basic training techniques.

Your puppy wants to please you
Puppies are quick learners and they enjoy learning new things. They want to please you so they are very motivated by positive reinforcement and encouragement, especially food!

Start training your puppy as soon as you get home. It not only teaches them how to behave but builds trust between you both.

It also establishes your leadership and is a lot of fun.

Encourage and reward good behaviour
If you reward behaviours they will become more frequent and consistent. Dogs learn fastest if you reward them within 1-2 seconds after the good behaviour. Good choices for rewards are , a pat, a play or praise.

Training works best when your puppy is hungry. Start with a simple trick, like ‘sit’.

  1. Say your puppy’s name
  2. Ask for a sit, by saying the word ‘sit’
  3. Once you puppy sits, immediately give him a treat and a verbal reward

Once a puppy knows a behaviour, you can change from luring (asking for the trick with a treat in your hand) to prompting (asking for the behaviour without a food reward). Make sure you still reward occasionally so that the behaviour does not disappear.

Ignore your puppy’s bad behaviour
If you pay attention to unwanted behaviours this tends to reinforce rather than stop these behaviours. It is best to ignore (if you can), redirect or distract the puppy to a positive behaviour. If you cannot ignore a behaviour then try to interrupt.

Say the puppy’s name (this is the interruption) and ask him to do the opposite of the bad behaviour, for example, if he is jumping then ask him to sit (this is the redirection). Finally, reward the good behaviour with a treat immediately.

If you can’t redirect the bad behaviour, you can manage the situation by relocating the puppy to another place for a short period of time.

Hitting and yelling at dogs only makes them fearful of humans. If you just say no, without redirecting the puppy to a positive behaviour, you are not giving them enough information to help you pup understand what behaviour you want from them.

Set your puppy up for success
If you set your puppy up for success you will find it much easier to train him.

Puppies have short attention span, so frequent but short training sessions are best. At the beginning train for just a few minutes, twice a day.

Puppies are easily distracted by sights, sounds and smells, so initially train in an environment without distractions. Then gradually move to a variety of situations and locations.

If you have to leave your puppy home alone, put away tempting things that you don’t want your puppy to chew on. Ensure that he has plenty of food, water and toys to play with so he does not become destructive with boredom or fear.

Toilet training your puppy
The most reliable way to toilet train your puppy is to:

  • provide frequent opportunity to go outside to the toilet
  • restrict access to locations where you don’t want him to go
  • reward appropriate toileting immediately

Puppies can only hold on for short periods of time so when your pup first comes home take him outside to toilet:

  • After sleeping
  • After eating
  • After playing games or getting excited
  • If they start to sniff or go around in circles
  • Every hour during the day

As soon as they toilet outside reward them immediately with a treat and praise.

If your puppy has an accident just clean up the mess quietly. If you punish the puppy for his accidents he will think he is in trouble for the act of toileting and will become a ‘sneaky toileter’.

Extra help training your new puppy
Just as your puppy is learning your house rules, you are learning how to be a dog owner. Some dogs learn faster than others. If you need help, a mobile vet can come to your house to assist you to train your puppy in your own environment, setting you both up for success.

Got questions about how to care for your new puppy? Contact us

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