Puppies are notorious for being curious creatures. Until you
train them, they will chew, bite, and lick everything – these may seem like
cute little nuisances, but the longer you let them go on, the harder these
habits are to break. Puppy training classes are an option, but they can be
expensive and often distracting for
puppies to learn with so many other puppies around. What some new owners don’t
realize is that dogs can be trained at home and be just as well behaved.
Step 1: Establish a Routine
The first thing you should do when you get a new puppy is establish a routine. Puppies function well when they have a schedule. This will help to establish good habits like when and where to use the bathroom, when to eat, where food and water are located, bedtime, etc.
Step 2: Create a Signal for Going Outside
Be sure to take your puppy outside often. You should take a new dog outside as soon as he wakes up, after he eats or drinks, and before he goes to bed. Additionally, while training, you should take him outside every couple of hours just to be safe. While training, find a trick that you can show your puppy so he can let you know when he needs to go outside. For example, hang a bell on the doorknob and ring it before you take him out. This will establish that the bell means he is about to go outside. Eventually, he will figure out that by ringing the bell on his own, you will come let him out. This is just one example, but whatever you do, be sure to find a trick that will be easy for your puppy to remember and an easily recognizable sign for you.
Step 3: Follow a Regular Feeding Schedule
Depending on age and size, puppies generally need to be fed between three and four times a day. Starting your puppy out with set mealtimes will be helpful to stop begging and overeating. If your puppy knows he is going to be fed as soon as he wakes up, halfway through the day, and around dinnertime, he knows what to expect in terms of how much he will be eating throughout the day and he will be less likely to beg for more.
Step 4: Establish Dog-Friendly Spaces within Your Home
Make sure your dog knows where his bed and toys are located. If he knows where his bed and toys are, he’ll be less likely to jump on furniture or chew on unwanted objects. He will also feel more comfortable when getting adjusted to his new home.
Step 5: Practice Commands
Once a routine is established, you can start teaching commands. One of the most important things to remember during this phase is to never scream at your pup - this will only instill fear and anger, not respect. The first commands to teach your puppy are “no” or “bad” for when you want him to stop doing something, and “good” for when he does something you like. Not only do you need your puppy to recognize these words, but you need him to understand them – do this by using the right tone of voice and proper body language. Always be gentle, but stern. Once he has these words down, you can move on to more difficult commands, like “Sit,” “Stay,” or “Drop it.”
Step 6: Have a Positive Attitude toward Housebreaking
After basic commands comes housebreaking. All puppies are bound to have accidents. Don’t get mad about it. Stop your puppy if you catch him and tell him, “Bad!” or “Outside!” Once you take him outside, make sure to praise him for doing his business. If you catch an accident after it happened, do not yell at your puppy or swat him. This will only make him fear you and fear the next time he has an accident. When an accident does happen, make sure to clean the area thoroughly. Just like when your dog is outside and is sniffing for spots in which he has already peed, if he smells a spot in the house that he has already marked, he is likely to continue to do so.
Step 7: Enforce Household Rules
Lastly, set household rules and stick to them. If you don’t want your puppy to sit on the furniture, then make sure everyone in your house is consistent with teaching him the same. If you don’t want him to eat people food, make sure no one feeds him any scraps from the table (or he may start to beg). No matter what rules you set, make sure they are followed consistently so that your puppy is not confused.
Even with these 7 steps, training a new puppy is going to present you with a challenge. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t yell, don’t turn to dominance, and don’t give up on your puppy – even if it may not seem like it, he is trying his best with the information he has been given. The length of time it takes for your puppy to remember these habits will vary from dog to dog, but he will get there eventually!