Welcoming home a new puppy is a whirlwind of excitement and adventure, topped off with sweet puppy kisses. As you and your new furry pal settle into a routine and learn the ins and outs of being together, everything seems perfect. But, over time, your new pup may develop some naughty behaviors, such as chewing on furniture, peeing on your rug, wailing during a nail trim, and lunging on walks, and suddenly they have become quite the handful. Nevertheless, it’s never too late to instill good manners in your young pet. To help prevent behavior problems from becoming a habit, use the following five puppy training tools.
#1: Train your puppy with tasty treats
Above all else, come armed with a pocketful of tasty, bite-sized treats when training your puppy. Tiny, delicious morsels are easy to gulp down, and will leave your puppy looking to you for further treats—and instruction. Treats should be used in every aspect of your puppy’s training, so they associate correct behavior with a reward. For example, when your puppy urinates outside in the correct spot, immediately reward them with a treat, and make a huge deal out of this appropriate behavior. If you wait until you are back indoors to treat your puppy, they’ll think they are being rewarded for coming inside. You likely will be a walking treat dispenser during your puppy’s first few months, but that is essential to set up your pup for success.
#2: Leash and harness your pup
Walking your puppy will be challenging if they don’t learn how to walk without pulling, lunging, or barking at other dogs and people. Use appropriate tools to keep them at your side with their attention focused on you, until they learn that an approaching dog or person is no big deal. Typically, an appropriate harness that prevents pulling will be more useful than a flat collar to teach your puppy to walk calmly. Your walking gear should include a no-pull harness and a four- to six-foot leash—ditch the retractable leash while you’re teaching your puppy not to pull. Fill your pockets with treats, head outside, and reward your puppy each time they look back at you or come to your side. If you notice another dog or person, call your puppy to your side, and work on sitting and lying down, ensuring their focus remains on you. These mini training sessions will help reduce reactivity and lunging, and encourage your pup to remain close to your side.
#3: An appropriately sized puppy crate
Puppy owners commonly complain about their pup’s inappropriate elimination and household destruction while they are unattended, but a crate can solve these problems. Teaching your puppy to love their crate will ensure they have a safe, quiet spot to rest, in addition to keeping them confined when you cannot supervise them. Choose a crate that is large enough for your puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down, but not so large that they can eliminate in one corner and lie in another. Puppies generally do not want to eliminate where they sleep, which helps with house training.
To make the crate a positive place for your puppy, give them a special, long-lasting treat, such as a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or spray cheese, each time they enter. Crating your puppy and providing a special treat whenever you cannot supervise them will prevent accidents and home destruction.
#4: Grooming supplies for puppies
Without positive experiences when they are young, many puppies grow up to dislike nail trims, brushing, and bathing. Stock up on nail clippers, brushes, and doggy shampoo—and your favorite training treats—and treat your puppy to a spa day. Go slowly, rewarding your puppy frequently when they allow you to handle their paws and ears, and brush sensitive areas. Repeated, positive exposure to grooming will make both your lives easier when your puppy is full-grown.
#5: Substitute chew toys to stop inappropriate puppy behavior
Puppies explore the world through their mouths, but this behavior can be a nightmare, especially when they are teething. Biting while playing, chewing on furniture, and nipping at your heels are problem behaviors, but they can be reduced with redirection to appropriate chew toys. Keep a stash of chew toys that you rotate, to trade your puppy for your favorite shoe, the couch, or during a game. Also, put away or block access to items your pup should not chew, to minimize inappropriate chewing behavior.
Part of raising a well-mannered, confident puppy is regular, positive socialization. Consider signing up your pup for a puppy kindergarten or training class, or enrolling them in doggy daycare, but first ensure they are up to date on essential vaccinations. Schedule an appointment with our Premier Pet Hospital team to see which vaccinations your puppy needs to grow up healthy and happy.