Do you have a new puppy? Maybe you’re preparing your new puppy checklist and anxiously awaiting the day you can go pick up your new little furry friend? Or perhaps you’re doing your research to decide if you’re ready to add a new dog to your life or not.
Regardless of the circumstance, there are a few major must-haves when it comes to training a new puppy.
New Puppy Training Goals
First, you should set a few training goals down for your new pup. Writing down your goals on paper and keeping them in a location where you will frequently see them, such as on your fridge, can help you remember to keep up with your training.
Having a new puppy can be a hectic time and it’s all too common for training to slip your mind while you’re running around trying to keep up with your new addition!
Here are a few basic training goals you can focus on with your new pup:
- Socializing your puppy in a timely manner to all number of people and animals
- Preventing the most common behavior problems by using appropriate responses
- Immediately buckling down on housetraining to get your pup on track as soon as possible
- Starting the training of your basic behaviors using positive reinforcement methods
Socializing Your New Puppy
Socializing your new puppy is first on this list which is otherwise in no particular order. This is because your puppy has a very narrow window for learning proper socialization. After that window, which typically ends at about 16 weeks of age, training becomes much more difficult.
You might be able to teach an unsocialized puppy to tolerate the presence of strange people or dogs without losing their mind, but you’ll never be able to teach them to enjoy and play with strangers outside of that socialization window (dogs or otherwise).
People often make a huge mistake in socializing their puppy without even realizing it. Socialization does not equal exposure. To appropriately socialize a dog you must ensure that they are having a neutral or a positive interaction.
This involves watching your puppy’s body language to make sure they aren’t uncomfortable or afraid during these interactions and controlling the interaction to ensure your dog isn’t put in an overwhelming situation.
For example, you shouldn’t put a new puppy who is rather reserved in a situation where they must interact with a boisterous dog who will continually batter them the entire playtime.
Instead, focus on making sure a withdrawn puppy gets to interact with calm dogs who will show them that interacting with other dogs is a positive situation that doesn’t make them uncomfortable.
If you need help socializing a puppy and you’re having trouble with it, please feel free to reach out to us or to seek the help of our Ask the Trainer Program.
Preventing Common Puppy Behavior Problems
One of the core ways to prevent common behavior problems is to provide your dog with appropriate mental stimulation. The number one reason puppies do “problem behaviors,” or those behaviors that they’re naturally inclined to do that we find annoying (like chewing) is because they are bored.
Giving your dog a variety of hands-on mental stimulation by working with them in a way that encourages them to use their brain – such as during training sessions, as well as providing them with hands-off opportunities to problem solve using toys and puzzles that they manipulate or chew, helps keep your dog from beginning these problem behaviors in the first place.
The other main element is making sure you’re responding in a way that doesn’t encourage your dog to repeat those behaviors.
However, the tricky part of this is figuring out the real source of your dog’s unwanted behavior. That’s the only way you can make sure you give the correct feedback! For more help preventing or stopping unwanted behaviors, seek the help of our Dog Training Courses.
Housetraining Your Puppy
The more accidents your new puppy has, the longer your housetraining journey will be! The faster you can stop those accidents and get your puppy pottying outside, the better success you will have. That’s the real key to housetraining – preventing 100% of accidents inside the home.
A dog who doesn’t potty inside, just won’t potty inside. Of course, preventing accidents also happens to be the toughest part of housetraining… but if you can prevent accidents for a long enough period of time, you will have successfully housetrained your dog.
Our Dog Savvy course contains a full guideline on housetraining.
Teaching Your Puppy New Things
Teaching your puppy their basic behaviors is a great way to bond with your new dog while also working on their general obedience. As another plus, it also increases their mental stimulation, thus reducing the likelihood they’ll start getting themselves into trouble! We generally recommend pet owners start with your basic “sit,” and then “down.”
From there, you can work on whichever behaviors you prioritize. Some pet owners like to teach their dog “paw” or “shake” because it’s a cute behavior that their dog likes. Other pet owners might prefer teaching their dogs to stay next. The order of behaviors is really up to you!
However, some behaviors are much easier to teach once you’ve already taught another behavior. For example, if you want to teach your dog to lie down, it’s much easier to do so once they’ve learned to sit!
No matter how many dogs you’ve raised, any puppy can take you by surprise. All dogs are different and have different dispositions and needs. You might have a much harder time with housetraining with this puppy than you’ve ever had before, or perhaps this pup is much more mouthy than your last dog.
Whatever the case, if your dog throws you a curveball don’t be afraid to look for some extra help! It’s much easier to stop a behavior early than fix it later on down the road when it’s already become a bad habit!