Puppy Training 101: Essentials for Teaching, Treating, and laying

Puppies as young as 8 weeks old can begin grasping fundamental concepts. However, keep in mind that the younger the puppy, the more limited their attention span. Training sessions should be brief and enjoyable, peppered with ample playtime.

To train a puppy effectively, initiate lessons when they’re well-rested but not overly energetic, as this might hinder concentration. Always take your pup outside for a bathroom break both before starting and after concluding a lesson.

You’ll want to have plenty of appealing treats handy for training. Puppies respond to numerous rewards, so choose something like Wellness Soft Puppy Bites that are small in size but flavorful enough to sustain your puppy’s interest in the training process.

The primary training sessions should unfold in a familiar setting free from distractions. Although you’ll eventually venture outside and into new areas with your puppy, the initial training stages must occur in a relaxed environment to facilitate focus.

Puppy Training Milestones by Age: Eight to Ten Weeks

This phase is all about helping your new furry friend get comfortable in their new home and starting them off on the right foot—or paw—with manners and good behavior. Here’s your guide to puppy training:

Establishing a Daily Routine

Dogs flourish when their day is predictable. Create a daily schedule that includes meals, potty breaks, playtime, training sessions, nap times in the crate, and a relaxing end-of-day wind down. Keeping notes may aid in maintaining consistency.

Crate and Potty Training

Crate training goes hand-in-hand with house training. The primary goal at this stage is to make the crate a happy place for your pup and reward them with treats right after they do their business outside.

Starting Socialization

A well-rounded social experience builds a happy and confident dog. Enroll your pup in an accredited class and nurture their social skills in a safe, controlled setting.

Teaching Alone Time

Though you may want to spend all your time with your new pup, it’s crucial to teach them to be comfortable when left alone. Gradually introduce brief departures (up to 3-4 hours for puppies 6 months or younger), whether you leave the house or simply move to another room out of sight.

Introducing the Leash

Your pup will be on a leash for life, so early acclimation is key. Begin by letting them explore with a light leash at home, and gradually train them to walk without pulling, maintaining a gentle curve in the leash.

Mastering the “Sit” Command

The “sit” cue is one of the first obedience lessons for a puppy. Start in a quiet space, then introduce new environments as they master the skill. This command plays a vital role in teaching impulse control and is often used to ask the pup to “sit” before receiving something they want, such as a meal or a toy.

Ten to Twelve Weeks

Expanding Socialization

Keep expanding your puppy’s world by inviting new people to meet them and taking them to places where dogs are usually not found, such as banks or dry cleaners (if permitted). Always have treats on hand to reward good behavior!

Managing Mouthing and Providing Chew Toys

Puppies love to chew, and everything seems like a target, including your hands! Redirect their chewing to appropriate outlets like heavy-duty treat-stuffable toys such as the KONG Puppy dog toy. If they bite too hard, a simple “ouch” can help them learn to be gentle.

Introducing Body Handling

Prepare your pup for lifelong grooming and veterinary care by gently handling their ears, mouth, paws, and tail. Pair treats with gentle touches and gradually introduce necessary tools like a toothbrush, nail clippers, and comb to make them comfortable with routine care.

Extending Alone Time

Continue to build your pup’s confidence in spending time alone by gradually extending your time out of sight (no more than 3-4 hours for young puppies). Keep them engaged with treat-stuffed toys while in their crate.

Teaching “Say Please”

One of the foundational lessons for impulse control is teaching your puppy to “sit” as a way of saying “please” when they want something. This can be used throughout their life for things like going outdoors or receiving a toy.

Building on Basic Commands

Start introducing basic cues like “come,” “down,” and brief “stays” with a positive reinforcement approach. Keep sessions engaging and fun to maintain your puppy’s interest and excitement in learning.

Three to Four Months

Socializing After Vaccination

With the vaccination series complete, you can now introduce your puppy to more crowded places. Ensure that your puppy leads the way in exploration, and avoid forcing them into situations that make them uneasy. The neighborhood dog park might still be too much for them at this tender age.

Developing Leash Manners

As your pup grows in size and strength, continue to emphasize proper leash walking. Unless competitive showing is in their future, perfect heel position is unnecessary. However, pulling on the leash is also unacceptable. For guidance on polite leash behavior, you can find resources online and even download printable walking schedules to stay consistent.

Enhancing Training Behaviors

Start practicing foundational training cues in diverse and potentially distracting environments. This includes working on recall, or coming when called, and gradually increasing the duration that your puppy can follow the “stay” command.

Searching for a Professional Dog Trainer

Your puppy may have graduated from socialization classes, but their education should continue. Search for a positive reinforcement trainer who can further refine the skills your pup learned in class and help them master more complex lessons at home with you.

Four to Six Months

Perfecting Leash Behavior

Keep honing your puppy’s leash etiquette across various public locations. This ensures they understand how to walk politely, regardless of the surroundings or potential distractions they might encounter.

Ongoing Learning

Though your puppy may have completed their initial training course, the education process is far from over! Maintain daily practice of the behaviors taught in class and think about enrolling in more advanced training sessions.

Rewards Remain Essential

Your dog might already exhibit a solid understanding of fundamental training techniques, but that’s no reason to abandon treats! Continually praising your puppy with treats reinforces their good behavior as they mature. You can also gradually introduce other forms of rewards such as playful activities.

10 Tips to Help You Train Your Puppy

puppy read for training

1. Hanging Out with Friends

Socializing your puppy is about more than just fun. It’s a crucial part of their development. By exposing them to different people, animals, and environments, they become well-adjusted adults, ready to face the world without fear or aggression.

2. Potty Training

Training your pup where and when to do their business is a top priority. By creating a schedule and rewarding good behavior, you set the foundation for a clean and happy household. Punishment isn’t the answer; patience and positive reinforcement are key.

3. Crate Training

A crate can be a puppy’s safe space, helping with both behavior and potty training. By providing a secure environment, you can manage their habits and ensure they don’t get into trouble when you’re not watching.

4. Keeping the Pup in Check

Managing your pup’s space in the home is vital to prevent chewing, hiding, or harming themselves. Confining them to a smaller area with supervision helps guide them towards good habits and keeps them out of mischief.

5. Stopping Destructive Chewing

Chewing is natural for puppies, but it doesn’t mean everything in the house is fair game. Teaching them what’s okay to chew on, and what isn’t, saves your furniture and sets clear boundaries.

6. Teaching Gentle Biting

Biting is part of playing for puppies, but it’s essential to teach them to do it gently. Bite inhibition training keeps playtime fun and safe, and it’s a lesson that will serve them well as they grow.

7. Positive Vibes

Positive reinforcement is the key to happy training sessions. Rewarding good behavior makes the learning process enjoyable for both you and your pup. Harsh punishments can lead to fear or aggression, so always keep it positive.

8. Preventing Bad Habits

The early stages of training are a golden opportunity to set the tone for your puppy’s future behavior. With the right toys, training, and commands, you can steer them clear of common bad habits.

9. Basic Training

Basic commands like “sit,” “lie down,” and “come” give your pup a strong foundation. Using positive reinforcement for these training cues will help your puppy grow into a well-behaved adult dog.

10. Puppy School

Puppy kindergarten or classes designed specifically for puppies can be a game-changer in your pup’s training journey. With the guidance of an experienced dog trainer, these classes offer comprehensive training that includes socialization, housebreaking, basic obedience, and more. It’s a great way to ensure your pup gets off to a positive start!

Wanna know more about dog behavior?

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Each blog offers insights, tips, and techniques from professionals and experienced dog owners alike. Learn how to communicate with your dog, understand their needs, and establish a relationship built on trust and mutual respect.