When to Start Training Your Puppy (+ 3 easy tricks to teach them)
Welcoming a new puppy into your home and into your life is super exciting because you get to see them grow into the goodest dog the world has ever seen. You get to teach them what is right and wrong, how to face their fears (the right way) and let them know that the world isn’t a scary place. Your bond with your pup starts to develop very early on so it is important to build that bond through training your pup properly so start training early and do it through positive reinforcement.
When Do I Start Training My Puppy?
Your pup’s training starts the second they open their eyes and experience the world. They learn how to socialize with other dogs, they learn about different sounds, tastes, surfaces and more. You should start training your puppy when you bring them home, no matter their age; be their guide and teach them the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
How Should I Start Training My Puppy?
The first thing you should remember is that your puppy’s attention span is pretty much that of a goldfish. Short training sessions of 2 - 3 minutes, 3 - 4 times a day is more than enough to start. Don’t be a tiger mom or dad!
As your puppy grows, so does their attention span but remember not to push them too hard. We are aiming for short but successful sessions. Make sure you have training treats (check out the treats in your Super PawBox, a clicker or mark word (to let them know when they get it right), and a positive attitude! If your puppy isn't getting it, that is completely okay. Instead of getting frustrated, end with something they do know and take a break for a bit.
What Training Method Should I Use?
There are several training methods out there but the one that has consistently shown the best results while keeping your puppy’s tail wagging is called “positive reinforcement.” So what is positive reinforcement training?
- You are training by introducing rewards, which means everything about your training session is positive (this includes your energy!)
- You don’t use any form of dominance or aversive methods; ie: “alpha rolls”, shock collars, yelling, and punitive methods that suppress behaviour. This will only hurt your relationship with your dog and make your puppy much less likely to learn new behaviours. We definitely don't want that.
- Use rewards! That can be yummy training treats or play - it can vary based on what your pup holds the most value towards. Plus, have a freakin’ party every time your puppy does something well!
- Have fun! You brought your best friend into your life for a reason. Yes, training is hard and can get frustrating but you have to remember that your puppy is doing their best. They never do anything out of spite and if they are not getting a command, step back and think; ask yourself these questions:
- What can I do to make sure my puppy is successful?
- Do I try another way to teach this trick?
- Are my sessions too long? Is my puppy tired?
- Am I using the right rewards?
Take a breather. You both got this, just be patient.
3 Basic Commands to Teach Your Puppy
Bring that positive attitude, energy, your clicker, high value treats, and your puppy because things are starting to get serious. Set a timer to 45 seconds and lets go!
#1 Come aka Recall
This one is super important so you want to make sure that you take your time and really build a consistency for the cue so that when you say “Come”, your dog comes right to you. This can be a life saving behaviour. P.S. if you give your puppy epic belly rubs, you’ll find this a lot easier.
- Sit in front of your puppy.
- Call their name (only once) and as they start to walk towards you, say “Come!”.
- When they reach the finish line (you), give them a treat and celebrate!
- Continue to do this, and as your pup starts to get the hang of it, add distance and after saying their name, give them the cue “Come!”. Only do this if you know that they will come to you 100%. If you’re unsure, no worries, continue with steps 2 and 3 until your puppy gets more reliable.
- Don’t forget to celebrate when your puppy comes to you because they should know that the cue means great things.
The method we are going to use is called capturing, where you capture the behavior you want from your puppy
- Grab some yummy treats and stand in front of your puppy.
- Wait for the pup to offer a sit - say “yes” or click, as soon as their butt touches the floor and give them the treat.
- Take a few steps back and wait for them to stand or throw treats to the side so they can get up from their position.
- Wait until they offer the sit behavior, say “yes”, give them the treat.
- Repeat this a few times until your pup gets the hang of it and then start to say “Sit” before the behavior is offered, rather than after.
We are going to teach down by luring them into behavior we want.
- Take a treat in your hand, bring it to your dog’s nose and slowly bring it down towards the floor.
- The second your dog’s elbows hit the floor, give them the treat.
- Do this a few times until your dog is comfortable with the behavior.
- Begin bringing your empty hand to the floor, and only reward AFTER your dog lies down.
- Repeat this a few times until your dog starts to understand the behavior. When your dog can reliably follow your hand gesture, start giving the cue “down” which should be followed by your pup going down.
Please remember that your puppy is brought into a world they don't really understand, everything is SUPER new to them so they are just trying to do their best. Just like you. Be patient, have fun, laugh, and always end a session on a positive note! If you need some super high value training dog treats or toys for your pup’s training, Super PawBox has got you covered.
Check out What You Need to Know as A First Time Puppy Owner and What Does The First Week, Month, and Year look like for more puppy fun!