Puppy training is vital from the first day your little friend comes home. It’s up to you to train the puppy and shape his future.
The things your puppy needs to learn IMMEDIATELY are listed below. All are critical, including the chew-toy training, as that item will replace boredom, loneliness, chewing personal belongings, barking, and the need for daytime entertainment while you are gone to the store or at work.
It is also valuable to get your puppy on a schedule. Dogs of all ages thrive on schedules. Sit down and work out a puppy schedule so you and your puppy know when things are supposed to happen.
Puppy training and socializing are critical beginning almost at birth. By the time a pup is 8 weeks old and ready to find a new home, s/he should already be well on the way to being the “whatever” she’s going to be as an adult. Training your puppy is time-sensitive and on your shoulders.
As the new owner, you have a narrow window of time for training your puppy; about 4 weeks, for the initial work, or until it’s 12 weeks old, to shape it into a real sweet little creature. Puppy training is something you do have to learn a little about. Above all, you need to be kind and fair to the puppy. After all, the pup has only been alive a few weeks!
Any mishaps at this age can mark your puppy for life, or at least be very difficult to retrain him out of later.
Being accidentally struck on the head or dropped could put a long-term scare into the pup. You have to be careful at every turn. A puppy is not that different than a human baby in those respects.
Make sure you understand about training a puppy and the essentials of puppy potty training and CHEW-TOY TRAINING before you pick out a puppy.
Puppy Training Priorities
Start Puppy Potty Training and Chew Toy Training immediately when arriving home. Set up wire mesh “pen” w/crate, water bowl and toilet inside..
Socialization with people. Puppy should meet and be handled by as many children, men, strangers, workmen in uniform, mailman, etc as possible before 12 weeks old. Puppy should ride in the car, on a boat, a street car, any, and every place you plan to have him when he grows up. Take him back for ride after ride. (If you find a street car, let me know. I want to ride too!)
Getting puppy used to being alone. Put crate in vacant room, utilize Kong’s for chew-toy training to pass time of day as well as meal time.
Dog to dog socialization from 12 to 18 weeks. Time to get out and walk, meet other dogs and socialize. Re-visit bite-inhibition at play time. You want a mature dog that enjoys other dogs. Now is the time to make that happen, before he’s 18, months old.
Inhibition biting. Play biting is one of the most important items on the list and not intended to be last. The puppy should have a good “soft” mouth by 18 weeks. That puppy training should have come when he was in the litter before you ever got him. He has to learn biting hurts and that normally comes from his litter mates. Your puppy must know how to properly play-bite. It’s an important lesson that is normally taught by the mother and his siblings before he’s adopted out. Proper play-biting and puppy nipping is essential for all dogs.
Sit and be Quiet. For this, the pup has already learned to “sit” on command and with his chew-toy, will amuse himself for quite a while. There will be no need to bark unless the doorbell rings.
Chew Toy Training
No Dinner From Bowls. Try A Chew Toy
Chew on this. Puppy training with a twist. Training a puppy gets more interesting. Serious damage is being done to unsuspecting puppies (and mature dogs) by feeding an entire meal in one bowl at one standing.
In the wild, dogs spend 90% of their time keeping busy searching for food. If you give your dog his food all at once, he is deprived of an entire day of searching. What does he do all day? He’s bored. He chews on himself, licks everything in sight, paces about, sniffs around, digs holes, barks a lot, engages in repetitive pacing and other neurotic behaviors. Too much time to kill before the next meal. Adult dogs are equally guilty of this; even more so in some cases.
The solution is so simple and it’s not in the puppy training manual!
- Measure out a one day supply of your dog’s food; kibble or whatever.
- Purchase chew toys like Kong’s or hollow sterilized bones. These are indestructible.
- Stuff them with your puppy’s daily allotment of dog food.
- The pup will settle down and chew on and off all day, periodically getting a reward of some food as he works on the chew toys.
- Keep him in his “pen” with his chew toys while you go to work. He’ll feed himself and chew all day too. No frustration, no neurotic behaviors, just solid puppy stuff. This is puppy training at its best.
What you have just done is teach your puppy to pass the time of day in a peaceful way and without becoming neurotic and bored. Additionally, he didn’t get hungry.
Be sure to use food from your puppy’s daily ration for stuffing the chew toys. The freeze-dried liver was for special occasions like original puppy potty training outings and as a special reward for puppy training events that call for something above and beyond. You don’t want the pup to gain weight from too many treats. Puppy training needs to be balanced between praise, treats play, and stuffed chew toys.
What Can You do With a Kong Toy?
Kong Stuffing — Puppy Training continues
Kong stuffing is a precise process so take notes — You want some food to emerge as reward to the puppy for picking up the chew toy in the first place.
Then, you want small amounts of food (kibble) to come out during the day to keep the dog rewarded and interested in the toy. Then, some of the best stuff never comes out to insure the dog never loses interest in the toy.
- Squeeze a small amount of freeze-dried liver (or Kong liver flavored paste) in the small hole at the tip of the Kong so the puppy can never get it out.
- Smear a small amount of honey around the inside of the Kong and stuff full with small sized kibble.
- Block the opening with crossed dog biscuits
- Or, use your own creative way of stuffing a Kong..
While your puppy is happily occupied chewing on his Kong toy, he is not barking for the sake of barking, he is not chewing on your furniture, he is stress-free and fully occupied even though left alone and he is not having any separation anxiety problems. You can see how important the Chew Toy Training is. Also, he is learning to hold his water as he waits for potty time, so the puppy potty training is at work.
Quiet Time for Puppy
Training a puppy that there is a time for play and a time to be quiet is a smart thing to do.
Don’t give continuous attention to the puppy the first days at home. Too much attention will cause her problems when you leave her alone when you go to the store or work and maybe even at night. You’ll have a whining barker with separation anxiety on your hands. Pick her up, fondle her, play with her, and put her down but don’t overdo it. Not going too far is part of puppy training too.
Give the puppy plenty of time to herself in the “den” or playpen we’ve been talking about. She has a variety of stuffed Kong’s and needs to learn she will be alone at times.
This is where her puppy potty training is done so she will be coming out of the den every hour and have human contact, praise and a treat. She should be quiet between times. That’s what the chew toys are for. She’ll chew and sleep, chew and sleep.
Puppy Training: ”sit”, ”down” and ”come”
For all these commands, we strongly advise CLICKER TRAINING for best results and for the pleasure of your puppy.
Stand at the puppy’s left side and hold a treat like freeze-dried liver or cooked hot dog bits in your right hand in front of the dog’s nose, just out of reach.
Slowly raise the treat upwards, telling the dog to “sit.” His nose will follow the upward motion of the treat.
Keep repeating “sit” and press gently on his rear end if necessary. As his head follows the treat upwards and back, his body will naturally go into a sitting position.
As soon as his back end touches the ground, praise and give his the treat.
Repeat over and over during each day until she will sit without the treat or toy as a lure.
There is no time limit on this command so once she has planted her butt on the floor, she is technically finished with the command and free to move about.
If you have a clicker, use it for training your puppy. Give a click as soon as her butt hits the ground. Give her the treat and CLICK right away and tell her “Good SIT.”
Suggestion – Tire your dog out before starting this command.
With another treat in front of the puppy’s nose, slowly lower the goody down in front of the fore paws. The dog will lower his nose toward the floor to investigate.
Go to the floor, then out away from the dog so he has to stretch. He should go all the way down flat, trying to reach the treat.
If she starts to get up, repeat “down” and show the palm of your hand to her as you would for “wait” or “stay.” Keep her in the down position for ten seconds if you can.
NOTE: Many dogs will wiggle and do what they can to get out of this position. It may be tough at first to get her to hold the “down” position for very long, but keep trying.
Be sure you release her with another command such as “YES, UP” or something of your choice. You have to let the dog know the command is complete and she can do something else.
Again, this command works very well using a clicker.
This is a major command and probably the most important one your dog will ever need to learn. As a puppy, he can only begin to learn because when he can get outdoors, we will practice “coming” (recall) from great distances with many distractions.
Have your puppy on leash in a quiet area.
Every time you see him coming toward you, call him “COME FIDO” and treat him with praise and a click.
Hold a very tasty treat out in front of your puppy and tell him to “come.” Use his name, “Come, Rex.” Or, “Come here, Rex.”
When he finally reaches you, give him the treat, a CLICK! Make his reward well worth his effort to come to you.
Always make sure that before you say “COME” – your puppy is indeed going to come to you, no fail. Don’t repeat the command and don’t go get her. Pull her to you if necessary, but make darn sure she gets to you. If for some reason she is allowed to NOT “come” after you have called her, you have a whole new problem. The dog will now believe she can COME IF HE WANTS TO.
Practice this command for the rest of it’s life. Then, when the day comes, and she is a mature dog and runs into the street after a squirrel and you call “COME AMY,” you might just save her life.