When getting a new puppy, you will have lots of questions regarding behaviour and how best to train them. Here are some top tips to help you navigate important issues such as basic commands, recall and positive reinforcement. It’s really important to have a well-behaved dog, not just for yourself but for everyone else around too, i.e. family. Guests and other dogs you may meet in the park. This makes life so much easier and will make your experience and time with your puppy much more enjoyable.
Don’t be harsh on your pup when there are toilet training accidents. You may feel frustrated when these accidents occur but try and hold this back and instead use positive reinforcement when they go to the toilet outdoors. Always bring some treats with you when you take your puppy out for the first few months and give them a treat and lots of praise when they go to the toilet outside. It may take some time (possibly months) but persevere and they will get used to it. Don’t stress them out at all, as it will only make the situation worse - always opt for positive reinforcement and remember to have patience.
Everybody gets worried about this and we often get lots of questions regarding play biting but try not to worry, as it is normal for puppies to play bite. All puppies go through this phase and it is actually an important part of their development to gauge how strongly to bite and to know when it hurts. When they do play bite, make sure you say ‘ouch’ and stop playing with them for a while. It may seem obvious but don’t ever use your hand as a toy. Instead make sure you always have lots of toys around for your puppy to play with. Don’t allow your puppy to play by biting your clothes either. While it may seem cute or funny when they are little, this could become a problem as they grow and it’s best to teach them from a young age what they should and shouldn’t be doing.
When getting a puppy, you will have to accept that they are likely to chew. Do everything you can to keep important and dangerous things out of the way and don’t be harsh with your pup if they do happen to chew something they shouldn’t. Keep lots of dog toys and chews around that they can play with instead. You can find good quality chews at your local pet shop or online.
Don’t Treat Your Pup Like A Baby
Puppies can be confused if they are treated like a human- e.g. sleeping on the sofas/beds or eating a lot of human food. This can create confusion regarding status ranking within the house and can create behavioural issues later in life.
It’s vital that your puppy learns basic commands such as sit, stay, come, down and heel.
This tends to be quite an easy one that your puppy should pick up quickly with the help of positive reinforcements like tasty treats.
Again, this is an essential command, as you want your puppy to return to you when called. Puppy parties are a really good place to learn and practice this command and offer an opportunity to pick it up early on using lots of tasty treats as rewards. It is sometimes easier to practice recall off the lead when they are younger and less boisterous- say from 3-4 months of age when they are still a little bit cautious and may be less likely to run off. Take them somewhere safe where you can practice recall with plenty of their favourite treats.
This is another useful skill for puppies to learn. Just make sure you have some treats at hand to reward them when they do well.
This command may not be as critical as the previous ones however it is useful to gain control over your puppy and can often be learned by using a treat and moving from the sit position.
In some puppies, perfect heel walking can be a tricky task. Heel walking requires lots of practice and we’d suggest bringing along lots of treats and also using a harness to help because puppies love to be playful and enjoy walking quickly. This can be difficult to master but that’s where further training classes are really valuable.
Top Tip: With practice and perseverance, recall is relatively straightforward to teach. It will take some time but have patience and keep trying. Always have some treats at hand too for positive reinforcement! You might want to plan to go out at a time when your pup is hungry. You can bring along some treats and encourage them to come back to you for a reward.