Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exciting experience, but it can also be a challenging and stressful time, especially if it is your first time raising and training a puppy. Training your new furry friend can be a lot of work, but it's essential to ensure that you do, so that they have a happy, fulfilled and ultimately healthy life. Training your puppy is not just about teaching her or him to 'sit' or 'play dead', it's also about understanding what your dog reacts to, and equally, will outline boundaries for your dog to follow when it comes to handling certain situations.
Without these boundaries, your dog won't know their place in your family, their pack, which leads to misbehaviour due to uncertainty and stress. How do they deal with new situations without guidance from you?
For example, is your dog food-obsessed? When it comes to dinner time, are they whining, pacing and anxious? Proper training can allow your dog to develop a healthy relationship with food, so that they are not anxious about when their next meal will come from. They won't beg, race to their food bowl or fight other animals around them (including children) due to uncertainty about their eating habits. This is just one example of the importance of training your puppy in a real-life and every day situation. It can make a world of difference.
Additionally, training is an outlet for your dog. Dog's thrive on challenges, especially for highly intelligent breeds like Collies, German Shepherds and Poodles (including Poodle cross breeds like Cavoodles). Lack of mental stimulation through training can lead to boredom, disobedience and even depression, says experts.
So we've compiled a list of our top 10 training tips for you and your new family member. By implementing the following best 10 training tips for your puppy, you can help them become a well-behaved, content and obedient companion...
1. Establish a routine
Establishing a routine is crucial for your new puppy. Dogs, like us, thrive on routine, and having a set schedule will make them feel secure, helping them to settle into their new home. Create a daily routine that encompasses feeding times, bathroom breaks, playtime, and training sessions. With this new routine comes familiarity with their new family and surroundings. This can lead to less anxiety and will aid with training. With more surety about their day, they will find it easier to slip into your schedule - which is imperative when incorporating a puppy into your busy lifestyle.
2. Encourage good behaviour
Encourage your dog's good behaviour with rewards. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool when it comes to training your puppy. In fact, experts say positive reinforcement is a far more effective training technique than negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement involves watching for your dog to act in the correct manner, then providing them with praise (or a treat) so that they understand that what they just did was 'good' and what you want them to continue to do it. Over time, they come to exhibit the desired behaviour by default. The time for this to occur will depend on various factors, from the difficulty of the task/action you are training them to do, to the intelligence of your dog, to their mood, to whether they are more responsive to treats or pats/praise. Ultimately, rewarding your pup with treats, praise, and affection when they display good behaviour will help them to understand what behaviours are acceptable and will motivate them to repeat these behaviours until they are habits and you have a well-rounded and well-behaved pet!
3. Keep Cues (Commands) Consistent
Just like with establishing routine, consistency is essential when it comes to training your puppy. Consistency ensures your dog does not get confused during training and will help speed up the (sometimes arduous) process of training. Keep your cues (commands) consistent by using the same command every time you want your puppy to perform a task. Equally, you want to ensure you are offering the positive reinforcement quickly, so that there is a direct correlation between the command, the act, and the positive reinforcement - this goes to consistency. If the puppy is getting confused, break down the task into smaller steps and work on them one at a time. For example, if 'stay' is confusing, start by praising your dog when they linger back or are taking longer, even if they aren't meaning to. Slowly incorporate the word 'stay' and desired hand gesture into the positive reinforcement so your dog is associating the word and hand gesture with the positivity and them 'staying'. Easy, right?
4. Be Patient!
It goes without saying that patience is key to both parties enjoying training. It should never be a dread, it is simply finding ways to encourage and discourage certain behaviours to incorporate your pet into your life. Be patient with your new puppy, and remember, they won't learn overnight. Some dogs learn quicker than others, so don't get discouraged if your puppy takes longer to learn certain commands. Remember, they are still very young and need time to acclimate to their new surroundings (and their name family) before learning commands like 'sit', 'stay' and 'heel'... give them time!
5. Socialise Your Puppy
Socialisation is paramount for puppies. When you first get your puppy, start socialising them immediately by introducing them to people, animals, and different environments. This can include socialising them to things like vacuums and hairdryers. If there is something foreign to a puppy, their gut instinct will be fear and then aggression. This will not get better with time if they aren't taught that these foreign things pose no risk to them or their family. So you must actively teach them that it is okay. Socialisation will help your puppy feel comfortable around others and reduce the risk of behavioural problems in the future. A very important example of this is socialising your puppy with children from a young age, especially bigger breeds. Children are very different from adults, to dogs as well, they look, smell and sounds different. So show your puppy a child, let them sniff and watch and interact with a child who will be gentle with your puppy. Baby steps. This is one socialisation that we would suggest is paramount to avoid accidents cause by fear and aggression in the future. Don't forget your ST ARGO walk set when socialising your dog at the local dog park.
Teaching your puppy to socialise from an early age is imperative. A great place to do this is at your dog park (once they are fully vaccinated). What better way to debt your puppy than with a lightweight and ultra-soft ST ARGO walk set?...
6. Teach Basic Commands
Teaching basic commands first is a great technique to develop building blocks for puppy training. Commands such as "sit," "stay," and "come" are essential for obedience training and can be taught using positive reinforcement, fairly easily. This is a great way of introducing your dog to more difficult demands later on like 'roll' and 'play dead' as they form the foundation of these more challenging tricks. Starting out easy and building up to more challenging tricks also builds trust between your puppy and you as well as them understanding your tone and praising technique. Be patient and make learning commands fun for your puppy, and they will soon become a well-behaved companion.
7. Use a Crate
Using a crate for your puppy can be useful in so many ways.
Firstly, a crate will become a safe space for your puppy to relax. Your puppy knows that when they are in their crate, they are safe and can relax.
It can also help with potty training. Puppies typically do not want to soil their sleeping area, so they are less likely to have accidents in their crate. Be sure to give your pup plenty of exercise and time outside of their crate, and never use the crate as a punishment, because then your puppy will not think of the crate as a safe space, but as more of a time out area. And remember, when using the ST ARGO collar, try to remove it when your puppy is resting. It's much more comfortable when your puppy is freed from any accessories during their downtime.
8. Practice Outdoor Leash Training
Outdoor leash training is essential for your puppy's safety. Start by using a lightweight leash indoors, such as the ST ARGO leash, and then gradually move to outdoor leash training. Begin with short walks around your backyard or a quiet street, and slowly increase the distance and duration of walks. The more you walk outdoors and the further you walk, this creates the ability for you to take your puppy on day trips. Don't forget poop bags and a poop bag holder! Depending on the local council, you can be fined just for not carrying poop bags on your person.
9. Use Consistent Boundaries
Consistent boundaries are essential for puppy training. Make sure your puppy understands where it's okay to play and where they are not allowed. To help your pup understand boundaries, use verbal cues, such as "off" or "not allowed," and reinforce them with positive reinforcement.
10. Exercise and Playtime
Finally, exercise and playtime are crucial aspects of puppy training. Puppies need plenty of opportunities to play and explore, which will not only help them burn off energy but also stimulate their minds. Be sure to set aside time each day for exercise and playtime.
In conclusion, training your puppy can be challenging but rewarding. By implementing these top 10 training tips, you can help your puppy become a well-behaved and obedient companion. Remember, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key to successful puppy training.
Not quite there yet and looking for the perfect dog for your family? Check out our blog post on choosing the right dog breed for your lifestyle.