We LOVE puppies!! Who doesn’t?
But caring for a new dog is big responsibility.
Preparing for a puppy means all kinds of things: training, worrying about your home, teaching your pup how to interact with your children, getting dog supplies, keeping your shoes from getting chewed up and so much more!
With so many puppy training tips available online, it’s stressful to find out what to do with your puppy and when to do it.
We’ve compiled what we believe is the best puppy and dog training guide that will answer all of your questions about puppy parenthood.
The stress of owning a new puppy will seem more manageable thanks to some “pawesome” advice we’ve received from amazing trainers all over the United States.
We wanted to make this puppy training guide the best you’ll find online.
So we made this BIG. Like 7,000 words big. In that content is up to 100 actionable pieces of advice and tips to help you with your puppy training. But we do now that this is a lot of content, so…
We’ve put this guide into a downloadable ebook. It’s FREE. Just click here: Puppy Training eBook From dogIDs
Most new dog owners know what basic supplies they’ll need for a puppy. They know to purchase a collar, leash, toys and food, but what are some of the less obvious necessities new puppy owners may not think about?
Five Helpful Tips To Prepare For Your Puppy
1. Have a training plan in place.
It is important to think about how you will teach your puppy basic obedience commands and manners. Is this something you plan to do on your own, or would it be worthwhile to check out some obedience classes in your area? It’s a good idea to talk with the trainer ahead of time to make sure they are a good fit. You could even ask to observe a class before you bring your puppy so you know what to expect.
Another option could be hiring a dog trainer to work with you and your puppy one on one.
For training, you should also think about what type of training collar you may need for controlling your dog and teaching them appropriate leash manners.
2. Plan how you will socialize your puppy.
Think about everything you want your future dog to be comfortable with, such as other dogs, children, strangers, riding in a car, walking through a crowd, walking on the sand, hanging out on a dock, etc. Next, come up with a plan to slowly introduce your puppy to all of these things early on.
3. Get ready for more exercise!
Will you be able to find an hour in your day for walking your puppy once they are a few months old? The amount of exercise a dog needs depends on many factors, but most young dogs will need at least a 30-minute walk every day.
4. Plan for unexpected veterinary costs.
What will you do if your puppy gets sick or injured? Are the costs out of your planned budget? Will you be able to use some savings? Or a credit card? Does pet insurance seem like a good option to you? There is no right answer, but start thinking about which route you’ll take if something comes up. It’s better to plan ahead now so you’re prepared. In addition, you should talk to a vet about which flea and tick prevention products are best for your area as well as heartworm prevention.
5. Additional dog supplies.
- a kennel (crate) for potty training and reinforcing good manners in the house.
- A dog bed is also nice to have, especially if you don’t want your dog on your furniture all the time.
Obviously, these costs add up quickly, so you may want to consider buying a few items each month before you even bring your puppy home.
“Start training right away.” This is great advice, but it’s also overwhelming. Puppies not only need to learn their names and basic commands but also how to walk on a leash, where to go potty and how to interact with other pets. So where do you even begin? We turned to four experienced dog trainers and asked for their tips. You can’t go wrong teaching your puppy the following concepts right away.
Puppy socialization is the process of gradually introducing your pup to a variety of people, places and experiences early in life, said Tonya Wilhelm, a professional dog trainer with Global Dog Trainer. She said socialization is so critical because it can prevent a dog from developing behavioral problems later in life such as extreme fear or aggression.
Even if your puppy does not seem to have an issue with storms, resource guarding or separation anxiety, Wilhelm said problems can develop anytime in a dog’s life. “In order to help buffer any future phobias, now is the time to develop the ‘no worries’ attitude with common fears,” she said. To do this, she said to pair potential fears (like storms or strangers) with something your puppy finds valuable such as food or games.
2. Getting used to being handled and groomed.
“As early as possible, you should start to get the puppy comfortable with being handled, restrained and groomed,” Wilhelm said. Some examples of what you should get your puppy used to include grooming his coat, wiping his/her feet, brushing teeth, reaching for him/her quickly and trimming his/her nails. “In these daily exercises, you will be teaching your puppy to trust you and to view these procedures as enjoyable and not stressful,” she said.
It’s critical for puppies to learn self-control, especially if they are going to outweigh their owners, said Jamie Ohman, a dog trainer with Siriusly Awesome Dog Training. “Many of the behaviors our dogs do that we find annoying or unacceptable result from a lack of self-control,” she said. These behaviors could include pulling on the leash, jumping up on people, chasing squirrels or stealing food from countertops. To begin teaching a dog self-control, Ohman said she begins by teaching the puppy to wait in doorways. She also begins teaching loose-leash walking and manners around the food bowl.
4. How to be calm in a crate.
Teaching a dog to remain calm in a crate is important for potty training, but it can be helpful in other situations too. Dog Trainer Abby Harrison, a trainer with SitDogStay in Houston, gave some examples where crate training is helpful such as when you need your dog contained at the vet or if you have lots of people over and can’t have your dog “underfoot.” “It is really easy to keep up the being calm in a crate if you do a little bit of it each day,” she said.
5. His or her name.
“If you can’t get your puppy to pay attention to you, you sure won’t get your puppy to sit, lie down or come when called,” said Tanzi Leary, a dog trainer in Baltimore. Her web site is DogCrazyLady.com.
This is why teaching your puppy his/her name is so important. “Say your puppy’s name, and when he looks at you, say ‘Good!’ and give him a tiny piece of food,” Leary said.
“Repeat many, many times, until your puppy quickly looks at you.”
She said if your puppy doesn’t look at you, just make a kissing sound to prompt him/her and then reward. “Don’t repeat your puppy’s name over and over if he isn’t responding. That just makes him learn that his name doesn’t mean anything, the opposite of what we want.
Dogs chew for all kinds of reasons.
Their jaws are built for some serious gnawing, but they also seem to chew because it’s fun or relaxing. While it may be unfair to expect your dog to stop chewing completely, you should be able to teach them which items are appropriate for chewing.
Here are some tips to prevent your dog or puppy
from chewing inappropriate items:
1. Prevention goes a long way!
Some dog owners underestimate the power of prevention. You can prevent your dog from chewing your shoes and other belongings by keeping everything picked up. Another way to prevent your dog from chewing your property is to leave them in a kennel when you are not home. Not only will this prevent your dog from chewing your stuff, but it will also keep your pup safe. Sometimes dogs can choke or get hurt from chewing inappropriate items such as wires, cables or aluminum.
2. Provide your dog with their own toys.
Make it easy for your dog to make the right chewing choices by providing them with plenty of options. We recommend the Jive Eco-Friendly Ball for dogs that love to play fetch or carry around a ball. This is dogIDs spokesdog River’s favorite toy to play fetch with, and it’s also indestructible. It can handle some serious chewing. We also recommend natural rawhide bones made without chemicals. Other possibilities could include squeaky toys, rope toys or any type of puzzle or interactive toy.
3. Rotate which toys are available.
Sometimes dogs get bored with the same old toys. Keep your dog interested by rotating which toys are available. Choose two or three each day and leave them out for a limited amount of time. Keep toys put away when they’re not in use and save them for when your dog is bored or when you will be gone for long hours. Just as your dog will appreciate different toys every now and then, mix up the types of rawhides, bones and treats you use.
4. Provide your dog with enough exercise.
Dogs that get enough daily exercise are less likely to find trouble because they’ll have less energy to spare. We all know a tired dog is a good dog, right? Be fair to your dog, and make it easier for them to behave by going on long walks every day.
5. Train your dog.
It’s important for dogs to learn patience and self-control.
This is why all dogs should learn basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, down, come and heel, just as we talked about in previous sections.
Dogs that learn these skills know how to act within certain rules. Because they have developed a higher level of self-control, they will have an easier time ignoring tempting “chew toys” such as that pair of leather shoes. It’s also helpful to teach a dog the command for “leave it” to signal that certain items are off limits.
Chapter 3, Part 2
If you’ve ever been nipped by a playful puppy, you know how bad those little teeth can hurt. It’s important that we teach our puppies not to bite so they don’t continue to do so as they grow up. The following are some tips to teach your puppy appropriate manners.
1. Rotate which toys are available.
One way to prevent your puppy from biting you is to keep lots of interesting chew toys available, just as we talked about in the previous section. Each puppy will have different toy preferences, but try to offer your puppy a variety of toys such as a few squeaky toys, a rope toy, a few puzzle toys, a stuffed toy and some dog chews. Then, if you rotate which toys are available each day, your puppy will be more interested in whatever toys happen to be out. As an added benefit, your puppy will also be more likely to chew on the toys and less likely to chew on inappropriate items.
2. Leave the room if the puppy bites.
Some trainers will tell you to ignore unwanted behavior from dogs and puppies. For example, if a puppy doesn’t get attention for jumping on you, they are less likely to continue jumping. You can use this same method to prevent biting. If your puppy bites your hands or clothes while you’re playing with or petting them, just say something like “Ouch!” or “Too bad” and then calmly turn your back to them and leave the room. If you do this every time your puppy bites, they will learn that biting equals no more fun.
Since a puppy’s attention span is so short, you only have to leave the room for a minute or so. But try to return when they are not barking or whining. That will teach them those good things happen if they wait patiently. Of course, if they start to bite as soon as you return, you would turn your back and leave once again. The goal is to be consistent.
3. It’s never too early to teach obedience commands.
Even if your puppy is just eight weeks old, you can begin teaching them basic obedience commands such as sit, stay and down. These are commands that will help them learn more self-control in general, which will help in all areas of training, including learning not to bite people.
If possible, enroll your puppy in a “puppy kindergarten” or beginning obedience class. This will give you the opportunity to work with an experienced trainer, and it will give your puppy a chance to work and socialize around other puppies. Most puppy classes allow some playtime at the end of class, and the puppies will learn a lot from each other. For example, if one puppy bites too hard, the other puppy will yelp.
4. Give your puppy exercise.
Puppies go through some serious energy spurts, so make sure you are providing your puppy with plenty of exercise. This could include running around the yard, interacting with toys, going for walks or working on training. It’s not fair to expect a puppy to be calm and well-behaved if you’re not providing them with an appropriate outlet for all her energy.
5. Use an anti-chew spray.
One product that can help stop puppies from biting is an anti-chew spray.
This type of spray will not hurt the puppy, but it has an unpleasant taste. If you spray the chew stopper on your hands or on other items you don’t want your puppy to bite (such as the leash), it might stop the unwanted behavior.
You’ll also want to make sure to praise your puppy with treats and attention when they show good behavior.
Have you ever heard a puppy owner say something like, “She just doesn’t get it! I take her outside and she still pees in the house?” Some puppies are harder to potty train than others, but a big factor is actually how consistent the owner is with the training. It’s about rewarding the good behavior, but it’s also about preventing the unwanted behavior.
Even with all the information out there about puppy potty training, new dog owners still seem to have problems. We asked three more dog trainers to share some of the most common puppy potty training mistakes, in addition to the puppy training tips from Jeff Stalings above. Here’s what they said:
Avoid these puppy potty training mistakes:
1. Giving the dog too much freedom.
The three words to live by when you are raising a puppy are “too much freedom,” said Brad Jaffe, owner of Dogological.com. “You wouldn’t leave a crawling baby alone to roam the house without supervision,” he said. “They don’t know the rules. They don’t know what’s dangerous or poisonous.” It’s the same with puppies, he said. They don’t know what’s OK until we teach them, and one way to be proactive is to set up gates or to use a kennel when you can’t supervise.
This brings us to another common problem:
2. Feeling guilty about using a kennel or crate.
Some dog owners don’t like to confine their dogs or they think crates are mean, said dog trainer Colleen Demling of Pawtopia.com. These owners then end up letting the pup run all over the kitchen or house.
“Puppies, being puppies, will have accidents and the more accidents they have, the more they will think it is OK to pee in the house,” she said.
Dog trainer Jill Morstad of PrairieK9.com also recommends puppy owners use kennels to limit a puppy’s freedom. Even when the puppy is not in a kennel, she said it helps to keep the puppy on a leash “tethered” to a responsible adult. That way the puppy can’t sneak off and have accidents.
Demling said another helpful tool is to put a cat collar with a bell on the puppy. That way you’ll have an easier time hearing her if she tries to wander off in the house.
3. DO NOT Use puppy potty pads.
Morstad said she does not recommend puppy potty pads.
“A dog learns by association, and if you allow him to do his duties in the house on paper you are in effect, teaching the dog to potty in the house,” she said.
Even if it’s very cold, a healthy puppy can still be taken outside to go to the bathroom, she said. “You take him out just long enough to do his duties and then you can both come right back in!”
Still, some trainers do recommend indoor potty pads for certain situations.
Jaffe said potty pads are appropriate if dog owners work long hours and are unable to get home to let the dogs out or unable to hire someone else to do it.
4. Taking the puppy out through all the different doors.
Puppy owners make the mistake of teaching the puppy that all doors lead outside, Demling said. The problem with this is that with so many exits, the puppy does not learn where he should go to signal he has to go potty.
While the puppy is learning, stick to one exit every time, she said.
5. Assuming the puppy knows what’s “right” and “wrong.”
Simply letting the puppy outside does not mean they know what to do out there, Morstad said.
“The biggest problem between the dog and the owner is that the dog would love to get it right, but they don’t know how to communicate with you,” she said.
Likewise, people make the assumption that the puppy knows it’s not OK to go potty in the house, said Jaffe.
“They don’t know what we want from them until we teach them,” he said.
While we’re all aware our dogs should know basic commands, sometimes we need a reminder on why certain commands are so important and how they can even save a dog’s life.
This is our list of the top 5 commands that we believe all dogs should know and respond to.
This is obvious, right? But how many dogs will actually sit on command the first time?
And even during “exciting” scenarios such as while meeting other dogs?
Working on a solid sit command is so important because it helps keep a dog under control, which means the dog gets to do more things.
It’s also helpful for when you’re waiting with your dog at the vet’s office or when you’re trying to pay afterwards. Much easier if your dog will sit and remain still!
Quick Tip: Teach your dog that “sit” means “sit and keep sitting until I release you.”
Another good one, which is really an expansion of “sit” or “down.”
There are times when we need to keep our dogs in one place, often while we take several steps away. “Stay” is useful in all sorts of situations such as when you want to get a photo of your dog.
I also use this command every day when I want my dog to remain on his dog bed and not bother me, such as when we’re eating dinner.
3. Free! (or something similar)
Our dogs need some sort of cue to understand when they are “free” to move around again after we’ve told them to sit or stay.
If we don’t have a release word for our dogs, it stresses them out because they have to guess when to get up, and they usually attempt this much sooner than we’d like.
By using a release word such as “free!” or “OK!” we take the guesswork away. This also eliminates the need to keep repeating ourselves every couple of seconds. “Stay … stay … stay.”
Having a release word allows the owner to use a single command and the dog will learn to remain sitting until given the cue to move around again.
Important, again, for obvious reasons. Dogs that don’t come when called can get into all sorts of trouble. They are more likely to run off and get lost or hit by a car, so they don’t get to experience off-leash freedom like other dogs. They are also more likely to chase things or get into confrontations with other dogs.
Dogs pick up gross and sometimes dangerous objects in their mouths. Need we say more? Teaching a solid “drop” command is important so the dog learns to give up anything (dead squirrels, bones, chocolate cake) on command.
Tip: Use a highly valued reward when teaching this command.
The reward should be better than whatever the dog has. Another related command that’s also good to teach is “leave it” which means not to touch the item in the first place.
There are many other important commands for dogs to know (heel, watch me, down, etc.), but these five are the most important, foundational commands.
“Separation anxiety” is a phrase that’s often used when a dog becomes anxious when left alone. Some dogs with separation anxiety will bark all day when left alone. Others are so nervous they have accidents, and some dogs will destroy property in an attempt to get out of the house.
On the other hand, just because your dog is acting this way does not necessarily mean they have true “separation anxiety.” It could just be boredom or that they are not fully potty trained like you thought. Or maybe they just barking because he hasn’t been taught any other options.
If you’re not sure if your dog is dealing with separation anxiety, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian or trainer.
Then you can come up with the best behavior modification plan for your unique dog, whether separation anxiety is the issue or not. In the meantime, the following are some puppy training tips to help any dog feel more comfortable when left home alone.
If your pup is already starting to appear anxious when you leave, these tips could help your dog or puppy feel calmer.
1. Stick to a routine.
Dogs love a routine. If their schedules are somewhat predictable, they have an easier time relaxing. Do your best to follow the same routine each day when you leave the house. For example, maybe you let your dog out first thing in the morning, then feed them, then go on a short walk before putting them in the kennel while you get ready for work.
2. Do not feel sorry for your dog.
Dogs pick up on our emotions, which can be a good thing at times. However, if you’re feeling anxious about leaving your dog home alone, guess who else will feel anxious? Instead, try to think positive thoughts about how lucky your dog is to stay home in a relaxing, climate-controlled environment with toys and a bed. You are the one who has to work all day at a job. Your dog should feel sorry for you!
3. Start by leaving for short periods.
If you recently adopted a new dog or puppy, it can really help if you start by leaving them alone for just 10 minutes at a time. Start doing this right away from day one. Ideally, you would be able to take a day or two off from work and slowly get your dog used to being alone in a new place.
4. Provide lots of exercise and structure.
A tired dog will have an easier time staying calm and relaxed. It’s not fair to expect your dog to be calm and quiet while you’re gone if you don’t take them for at least a walk every day. Some dogs will need even more exercise than that such as some off-leash time to run around.
5. Don’t make a big deal out of coming and going.
If you make a big production out of leaving the house, it’s only going to make your dog excited and nervous. It’s best to literally ignore him for a good 20 minutes before leaving. When you do leave, don’t even look at your dog or say goodbye. Just go. If you say something like “Goodbye, Buddy! Mommy loves you! Be a good boy! I’ll be back soon!” it will only make Buddy more excited. You don’t want to get him excited, especially if he’s already started to settle in. Instead, just leave quietly.
6. Use a kennel.
This tip has come up again and again. Some dog owners are uncomfortable with the idea of putting their dogs in a “cage.” However, kennels are safe tools that can often help dogs feel relaxed and calm. In kennels, dogs are able to learn how to relax when left alone. It doesn’t take long for them to slowly be allowed more and more freedom, but the kennel is an important tool to prevent bad habits from forming. Other tips to try:
- Leave music or TV on for your dog.
- Leave a fan or air conditioning on for more “white noise.”
- Give the dog a special toy or treat when you leave.
- Ignore your dog when he whines.
We hear about the importance of socializing our dogs and puppies to new things, but what exactly does that mean? At what age should we begin exposing our puppies to new places and other dogs, and how can we go about it without scaring them or exposing them to diseases? We reached out to some professionals for their ideas on how to socialize a puppy safely. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Allow the puppy to stay with his litter for 8 weeks.
“A large amount of early socialization takes place with littermates,” said Dr. Danel Grimmett, a veterinarian with Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Edmond, OK. Because of this, it’s important for puppies to stay with their siblings for at least 8 weeks. In this safe environment, puppies explore each other and learn key social cues such as bite inhibition and mutual grooming, Grimmett said. “This ‘nursery’ experience helps them learn how to play with others and gives them confidence.”
2. Avoid busy pet areas until the puppy is vaccinated.
Grimmett recommends puppies stay away from dog parks, large retail stores and other busy pet areas until they are fully vaccinated at about 3 to 4 months old. Still, there are other ways to socialize your young puppy safely. For example, if you have close neighbors with fully vaccinated pets, Grimmett said it’s OK to allow monitored play times. Michelle Yue is a professional dog trainer with Good Dog DC in Washington, D.C., and she said one way to socialize your puppy before they are fully vaccinated is to carry him/her places. She likes to carry her puppies with her in a Sherpa bag. “A lot of people think puppies need to touch things to become socialized,” she said. “They don’t always need to make contact. Just looking, smelling and hearing are also great socialization.”
3. Enroll in a puppy “kindergarten” class.
Yue recommends a quality “puppy kindergarten” class for socialization as long as it follows a sanitation protocol. There, your puppy will get safe play with other puppies and meet lots of new people. Plus, an added benefit is the puppy will be tired for a few hours after class!
4. Think ahead and create a plan accordingly.
Make a list of everything you would want your adult dog to be OK with, Yue said. This could be bikes, cars, cats, kids, farms, train stations, dog parks, etc. Yue said to come up with a plan so you can introduce your puppy to various components of these things regularly. Of course, don’t go without puppy ID tags!
5. Introduce your puppy to a variety of people.
Yue also recommends new puppy owners invite a lot of people over. “A new puppy is the perfect reason to entertain,” she said. “Having people over to your house will give your puppy lots of exposure to people and calm, friendly, adult dogs in a safe way.”
6. Watch for signs of stress.
The puppy’s body language will show you if she’s being pushed too far, Grimmett said.
“Cowering, crying, running and hiding, having ‘accidents’ and in general appearing stressed are all clues to let you know they are not feeling safe and confident.” Other signs of mild stress to look for include yawning, lip licking, sneezing or looking away, Yue said. A little stress is fine, but it may mean your puppy needs a little more work in certain situations.
“Next time, keep a little distance and bring really tasty treats or a fun toy,” she said. Don’t push the puppy too far. Whenever possible, Yue said she likes to let the puppy go at her own pace. For example, instead of having someone approach the puppy, Yue said she has the person stop a couple feet away and then hands him a high-value treat such as a piece of chicken.
Usually this will get the puppy interested. When the puppy approaches, Yue said she likes to use a 3-second rule for petting. “New people should pet for 3 seconds, then stop,” she said. “If the puppy re-engages them by re-approaching, jumping, licking or nudging, pet again!
If the puppy walks away, or ignores them, it probably means the puppy is ready to move on.”
Wrapping It Up:
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