You've planned for months and have prepared your home for your new puppy, but all of those preparations are just the beginning. As soon as you bring your new puppy home, a whole new set of tasks begins, including the training process. If the idea of training your new friend seems daunting or too challenging to master on your own, here are five essential training tips that will get you off to a great start.
Set Boundaries Early
Set boundaries early and stick to them. If you have other family members living with the puppy, ensure that they also agree with these boundaries so your puppy does not have multiple people telling him different things. If you do not want your dog on the bed or furniture, do not allow this to happen even once. Puppies are very impressionable and need to be told early and often how to behave. If you are wishy-washy about the rules, it will only result in confusion and cause frustration for both you and your puppy. Of course, no matter how hard you try, the occasional accident will happen, but some quick and easy furniture cleaning should be all you need to get stubborn stains out.
Reward Good Behavior
Dogs live to please their owners, so it is important that you reward all good behavior in the beginning. Use treats, special bones or toys, or even just lots of happy praise to let him know that he is behaving correctly. Conversely, if there is any behavior that you want him to stop, do not call him a "bad dog." Using this term can actually make your dog more stressed and less likely to want to listen to you. Instead, use a sharp noise, such as "eh," to let him know that he needs to stop what he is doing and focus on you.
Teach Him To Come When Called
One of the first—and most important—tricks your pet should learn is to come when he is called. This can literally save his life if he gets out of your yard or breaks loose on a walk. Start by using high-value rewards like his favorite treats, and do your training inside at first to avoid distractions. Once he comes when called inside, try to move outside where there will be more chance for distraction. The goal is to get your puppy to focus on you and come to you when called no matter what else is going on around him.
Train in "Dog Time"
Once a puppy has done something—good or bad—you only have a window of a couple of minutes to reward or chastise him before he forgets what he has done and moves onto something else. If you come home to an accident, simply clean it up and move on. Odds are, your dog has totally forgotten what he has done, so yelling at him does nobody any good. If he does something positive, be sure to lavish him with praise and treat him immediately so he can learn to associate the behavior with a good outcome.
Discourage Jumping Immediately
This is a tough one, because your dog most often jumps out of excitement or happiness to see you. However, consider what could happen if he jumps on a small child or a frail, elderly person. When your dog jumps, immediately cross your arms and turn your back to him so he no longer has access to you. This should eventually discourage him from jumping since he is not getting the reaction that he hopes for. When you come home, do your best to enter the house calmly so he is not activated by your arrival.
Training a dog does not happen overnight, and takes much time and patience. However, if you can stick with it and stay consistent, you will eventually have a well-behaved dog that everyone enjoys being around.