You’ve just picked up your brand new puppy from the breeder, how exciting! You’ll probably want to spend a little while getting to know each other, playing and generally enjoying all the jumping, face licks and affection from your new best friend. But after a few weeks when they’ve settled into your home, it’s time to think about some training. Puppy training is an absolutely vital part of owning a dog, and is arguably as important as making sure they get all their vaccines and health checks. But how do you go about training your puppy? And what are some of the things you really need to get right?
Choose Their Name Carefully
This one actually starts before you even bring the puppy home, because believe it or not the name you choose can have an impact on how easy it is to train them. The most obvious thing is that you need to choose a name that you would be comfortable shouting out in a crowded area – otherwise all the training in the world won’t help your dog obey you. But did you know there are certain kinds of names are preferred for training? Shorter names with a strong consonant are absolutely ideal for puppies, and this is because it catches their attention at the end and perks their ears up for more. If you put the emphasis at the end of a strong name, you’ll have your puppy’s full attention for the instruction you give.
Socialisation is exactly what it says on the tin – get out there and get your puppy used to the world! Socialisation is an important part of a puppy’s development, and it’s best to start as early as possible.
As soon as you can, take your puppy out and show them lots of new things, people and other dogs. The more socialisation you can give your puppy, the better adjusted they will be as an adult. In fact, most of the common behavioural issues you hear about in dogs (aggression, biting, excessive barking or fear) can all be traced back to poor socialisation as a puppy.
If you need help with socialisation you can try our dog walking services, or our pet sitting and feeding services for a welfare check as it’s crucial someone is there for your puppy when you can’t be. By exposing your puppy to a wide variety of other animals and people, as well as sounds, smells and sights, they can soak them all in early and not become overwhelmed when they encounter them as an adult. This also includes places like the vet or the groomer, and making sure your puppy is as comfortable as possible in those environments and being handled in different ways.
Create a Safe Space
Every dog needs a den, and your puppy is no different. Dogs enjoy being able to relax in a small, enclosed space that is just big enough for them to lie down, stand up and stretch out. It might look odd to us, but these little cosy spaces are what makes dogs feel safe. It’s a place they can go when they feel scared or stressed, and to sleep. This is known as ‘crate training’. From the day you bring your puppy home, make them a little private sleeping area that is just theirs. Many dog owners will use a cage or crate for this, as it gives them the ability to shut the dog in at night, or when they go out of the house. They can also be a great tool for house training. Make it a nice snuggly place, and be sure to encourage them to explore and reward them for staying relaxed and quiet in their den. Whatever you do, don’t misuse the crate! It is not to be used as a punishment, or a place to leave them for hours or days on end. Abuse and neglect in crates can lead to a lot of anger and anxiety issues in dogs. Remember, your dog’s crate should be their safe space.
Puppies are notorious for chewing. Slippers are their favourite snack, and they will make light work of your sofa or your kids toys if you give them half the chance. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Chew training is the idea that instead of just trying to stop your puppy from chewing, you instead teach them appropriate ways of chewing.
Chewing is a natural instinct for puppies, so you’re fighting an uphill battle by trying to just stop it. Instead, stop them accessing areas of the house you don’t want them to destroy, and make sure they have plenty of toy options to chew on instead. When they start to chew something they shouldn’t – tell them no and then redirect their attention to something they can chew – a chew toy or a Kong. Over time, this reinforces the message that they can chew certain things and not others!
Puppies and dogs have a completely different concept of time than we do. They are all about living in the moment, and within 2 minutes of doing something they’ve already forgotten about it and moved on to something else. So trying to train, discipline, or reward a few minutes or hours later will be absolutely useless – the puppy just won’t know what you’re trying to get it to do. Instead, you need to use your training techniques right away, so that the puppy has a chance to make the connection between their behaviour and the correction you’re giving. It will take time and repetition, but ensuring you train on ‘puppy time’ means you will see more improvement in behaviour in a shorter period of time.
What We Can Do To Help
At Animals at Home we’ve come across our fair share of dogs! And we’ve been able to see the results of all sorts of training techniques from brand new puppies to older rescue dogs getting a new start in life. What we’ve noticed is that when these foundations are laid very early on, training your puppy becomes an easier, smoother journey, with better results for both of you. If you want any advice about training and caring for your dog, we would be happy to help! Just check your local Animals at Home branch today.