As cute and heart wrenchingly cute as your puppy is, a naughty pup that poos everywhere and chews on essentially everything he doesn’t poo on is gonna wear you out. Sure he’ll casually toss you the tried and tested puppy side eyes, but believe it or not, even that can run its course (ok I’m just kidding. I still fall for it when Howard Jr looks back at me with his chocolate drop puppy eyes) BUT! My point still stands. Even the most adorable of puppies require some basic training. So lets get to it.
I’ll break down the essential training points into 2 main categories:
- House Breaking
- Basic training
The main difference between house breaking and basic training is pretty simple. House breaking, as the name implies, involves training that will make him being in the house more bearable, whereas basic training are simple disciplinary training that’ll make people “ooh and ahh” over your cute and well trained puppy!
House Training a Puppy:
Your house is your kingdom, your castle, of which you are the King. But now, you’ve welcomed this furry fuzz ball of energy into your kingdom. While you love your kingdom the way it is, you also can’t help but feel a little stirring in your heart when the walking tennis ball goes scampering around your castle eager to sniff and nibble on everything.
But then the fear strikes. What if the warm cuddly foot warmer I just welcomed into my house destroys everything I love?! Well have no fear. That warm cuddly foot warmer can be trained, and no sacrifices have to be made by your castle.
Here are the basic house breaking steps to take with your pup:
- Potty Training
- Crate Training
- Feeding schedule
- Chewing training
How to potty train a puppy
Ok. So! When it comes to having your little puppy home alone, what is the biggest and most common fear that people have? Come on now. We all know it. We’ve all seen it. Heck, I’m sure you’ve even smelled it. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m talking about POO.
The very first training obstacle to overcome is potty training a puppy. This is probably one the most difficult training’s your pup will undergo. It’s going to be an incredibly painstaking and stressful time for the both of you. You’ll regret everything you’ve ever done.
Now this is more for your benefit than it is for the pup’s. While the pup does also benefit from it, you’ll gain more in terms of sanity.
This means to keep your pup on a normal consistent feeding schedule. Feed her at the same time(s) every day. When you get this schedule flowing, she won’t beg you for food, for she’ll know when she’ll be getting fed, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting to feed her.
There are 3 common feeding schedules most dog owners do:
- Twice a day
- Once a day
- Open feeding
Let me do a quick breakdown of all three types, give you a couple of pros and cons of each. You can decide which is best for you and your puppy!
- Splits up the meal into 2 smaller servings
- Mirrors the breakfast/dinner split
- Have to feed early in the morning if you work
- If living alone, may have to come home from dinner out with friends to feed the pup
- Easy to not forget
- Less stressful than multiples feedings a day
- Saves you time
- A large volume to food to be eaten at once
- Not recommended for smaller breeds
- Super convenient
- Doesn’t stress out your pup thinking she must eat quickly
- Encourages constant eating
- Due to constant access to food, it can hinder any training in which you use food as a motivator
So as you can see, there are a couple of differences between the feeding schedules, but it really depends on your schedule, as well as what’s best for your pup. Twice a day feedings is the most common, while open feeding is most convenient. I personally feed my pup twice a day, but that’s just my personal preference. But hey, that’s just what works for me and my pup.
Ahh yes. The dreaded chewing training. While puppies are small, cuddly, and painfully cute, their teeth are actually painfully sharp! Little known fact, but puppy teeth are actually much sharper than adult teeth, and can tear into you like little needles.
In order for us to stop your pup from chewing one everything, it is important for us to understand why they chew on everything. And believe it or not, the answer is not because they hate your furniture.
The reason why puppies chew on everything is because it’s how they explore the world. If you have friends with new born babies, or maybe you’ve had a child yourself, you’ll see that babies too like to put everything in their mouth. Puppies are no different.
Unlike babies though, puppies lack the evolutionary benefit of having higher brain functions and opposable thumbs. What they lack they make up with mouthy enthusiasm. If a puppy comes across something new, she’s going to chew on it. It’s just in their nature. BUT. It doesn’t mean that we can’t redirect it.
The key to successful chewing training is redirecting her chewing.
When I first brought my puppy home, I wanted nothing more than to roll around on the carpet and play with him. Like in all those disgustingly sweet youtube videos of puppies joyfully romping around on the living room floor with their owners. BUT THEY WERE LIES. Sort of.
What they left out was all the biting that puppies like to incorporate into their play. Good god do they bite. Not aggressively, but just a curious “oh, is that your thumb? What is a thumb?” followed by an inquisitive chomp.
Not only did this break my heart, but it also ruin many of my socks. But don’t worry, I’m here to help you. I’ll save you scratches and holey socks.
When you puppy starts nipping at you during play, immediately give them a toy or rubber kong to chew on. Once they start chewing on the toy instead, pet them and encourage them to keep on doing it! Do this every time she accidentally gives you a toothy high five. As I’ve said before, pups are highly observant, so they’ll catch on as to what’s okay to chew and what’s not.
The key is to immediately redirect their attention to the toy, and praise them for doing so. Pups have an inherent desire to please us, and respond very well to positive reinforcement. So rather than punishing them for nipping you, rewarding them for playing with their toys will be the key to success here.
Now the fun training begins! Basic training involves training that isn’t related to pooing or peeing. So you can rest assured that with this training, you won’t have to worry about bad smells or yucky bodily fluids.
The training concepts covered here are all related to successfully training your pup’s behavior so that when she’s walked down the streets, the unruly pups will look down in shame, and other doggy parents will look at both of you with envy.
Before we get there though, here are the concepts we’ll be training:
- Sitting on command
- Staying on command
- Not pulling on a leash
Sitting on Command
The most basic of basic commands. Sit. Very easy to train as well! So lets get started. It’s important to note, that as with all training, the earlier you start, the easier it’ll be!
I’ve broken down how to train your pup to sit into easy to follow steps below:
- Make sure to train your pup before she’s been fed.
- This will ensure that the food is incentive enough for her to listen and obey
- Obviously, if you want, you can switch out food with a treat!
- Hold the food in your dominant hand
- Get her attention by having her smell the food in your hand
- Once you have her attention, have her follow the food in your hand
- Move your hand side to side so she follows
- Make sure to move enough so she has to walk, not just turn her head
- Once she follows your hand for a bit and is focused on it, stop moving your hand
- She’ll probably sniff, lick, or paw at your hand at this point
- When she does this, slowly start raising your hand directly above her head
- Do it slowly enough that she can keep her nose on track with your hand
- Once you raise you hand high enough, she’ll lose her balance and naturally fall into a sitting position
- Say “Sit!”
- Reward her with the food
- Repeat until she catches on!
Yes folks. I know. I’m amazing. But it really is that simple. Just have your pup chase your hand for a bit, raise your hand so she trips backwards, say sit, and reward her. And boom goes the dynamite.
Here’s helpful little video that basically covers the same concept!
Staying on Command
Staying on command is a little trickier than sitting, and really only for one reason. Unlike sitting, staying is a passive command. So you can’t exactly show her how to stay, then reward it. She has to stay on her own will power, and then you reward her.
(It also makes training her to stay a lot easier once you two have mastered the sit first!)
Here are steps to follow:
- As with the sitting command training, make sure she is hungry to ensure full attention.
- Tell her to ”sit”
- Once she does, show her the treat in your hand
- She may try to jump up and lick your hand for the treat
- Do NOT let her get to the treat, nor give it to her
- Tell her to “stay”
- It helps to say “stay” loudly and repeatedly
- Take one step away from her
- By you repeatedly saying “stay” in her confusion, she’ll most likely stay put where she is
- After you take one step away from her, immediately reward her with the treat.
- Step back to her to give her the teat!
- Do not let her jump and break the “stay” to get to the treat
- Repeat the above processes repeatedly
- But, with each repeat, slowly move further away from her
- With enough repetitions, she’ll stay on command for you!
A little lengthier than sitting training, but nothing too flashy or difficult. This is a training session that will… stay with her for years to come!
If the concepts above didn’t quite.. stay with you, here’s a neat little video to help you out!
Not Pulling on a Leash
Ok so I’m gonna level with you guys. When I first brought my puppy home, there was something just so damn cute about the little guy tugging on the leash and trying to lead me over to a bush for him to sniff. Like let’s be honest. Seriously. It was goddamn adorable.
However, what is not adorable is when he does that now, roughly 8x heavier and stronger than he was when I first brought him home. It’s actually quite annoying, humiliating, and at times, painful even.
Lets not let this happen to you. Lets train the little gal and get her leash ready!
Here are the easy steps to follow:
- The first time you put your pup on the leash, just let her run around
- Don’t take her on a walk, just let her get used to the leash
- Do this for a couple days until she gets accustomed to the leash
- Once she is accustomed to it, take her out to see the world
- Keep her on a shorter leash
- If you’re using a solid lead(a non-retractable one) just hold the leash further down to shorten it
- Allow her to lead you, but not pull you
- When she’s on the shorter leash and tries to pull you, correct her immediately
- Gently but firmly pull back on the leash
- Don’t jerk, but pull back so she feels it
- Usually when you do this, she’ll look back at you in confusion
- When she does this and stops pulling, let up some slack and let her walk again
- Repeat the above steps for a few days as you get used to her being walked on a leash
- After a few days of this, if she progresses, you can use the full leash
- Undoubtedly though, she’ll be excited by this newer freedom, and will probably start pulling again
- Once she does, correct her again, but this time by just stopping
- The moment you stop, she’ll continue to strain and pull
- Do not given in!
- Wait until she sits and looks back at you
- Once she stops pulling, resume walking
- Every time she pulls, repeat
Ok, pheww. So that’s definitely the most complicated and long running training session we’ve covered here yet!
For you visual learners out there, here’s a more in depth description of how to train your Fido from pulling:
But as you can see with all the training’s, the key to success boils down to three important factors:
- Immediate correction/redirection
- Positive reinforcement
No matter what approach you take to training your pup, you and her will find success as long as your stick to your guns. Immediately correct any wrong behavior, reward the good behavior, and do it consistently. You guys got this!
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