Having a puppy in your house is one of the greatest joys of life! Not only do puppies make for a great company but according to many studies, they can also have a positive impact on their mental health and well-being!
However, having a puppy also comes with a lot of responsibility, as you need to take care of their health and provide them with a good quality of life to stay happy. Moreover, you need to make sure that you train them properly, especially at a young age, so they’re well behaved and ready to socialize properly, all the while being a great way to bond together!
In this article, I’ll walk you through a brief puppy training guide with simple steps to housebreak your dog. Let’s dive right in!
When Is the Best Time to Start Training Your Puppy?
Ideally, your mental approach towards training your dog should start from day one. However, unlike baby humans, puppies take some time to develop after they’re born, so you have to give them a few weeks so that they’re able to grasp the idea of training and positive reinforcement.
Dog breeders will keep the puppies with their mothers for the first 7 to 8 weeks to get the essential nourishment and instinctual care.
As soon as the puppy hits the 8 week old mark and is ready for a new loving home, you should immediately consider training your furry friend. However, it’s important to keep the training sessions simple, especially at first.
They should also be brief and not take long. Cramming all the training steps into one session will make your puppy bored and disobedient, so make sure that you take your time with the training.
The Essentials Before Training Your Puppy
To make your life a lot easier while training your puppy, there are some essential steps and actions that you need to take.
As previously mentioned, your puppy wants to play and will be bored quickly, so you have to make sure that your session is as efficient as it’s short.
To help you with that, here are some of the essentials that I like to keep in mind before training any puppies
1. Find a Good Spot for Training Your Puppy
Although it’s a good thing to adapt your doggie to get used to training anywhere, it’s always best to choose a suitable spot for the first few weeks of training.
Puppies have a very short attention span, but they’re intelligent enough to understand what you want them to know. In other words, if they understand that a specific spot is where they need to focus, they’ll just focus.
That doesn’t only make your job easier, but it’ll also make the training session more efficient, which is what we’re looking for.
Ideally, a good training spot for the first few weeks should be indoors. Choose a well-lit, quiet room with a decent space and as few distractions as possible.
With time, you can shift the training to noisier rooms and even outdoors to passively train your dog to overcome distractions.
2. Introduce The Concept of Positive Reinforcement and Treats
One of the things that many people do when they train their dogs is that they immediately shower their dogs with treats.
The problem here is that puppies become really frustrated when they’re denied treats during training and may start whining loudly.
To overcome this problem, you’ll need to introduce the concept of positive reinforcement and treats when they’re calm. For example, after feeding your puppy properly and having some exercise, your puppy will settle down for a bit of rest.
You should reward its calmness by giving your puppy within his or her reach. This also comes with the extra benefit of being extra calm and well-behaved, in general, even around strangers and other pets.
3. Create Essentials List to Stay on Track
Whether you want a fully trained dog or you want to run your dog through the essentials, it’s important to map out your way with a simple “to-do list.”
Make sure that you organize your schedule for the few days ahead and list out all the things you want your puppy to learn. Since dogs’ responsiveness to training may vary from one dog to the other, you shouldn’t bound this list by time.
This technique helps you overcome the problem of “what now?” and keeps you motivated for training your puppy during these crucial first weeks!
Start By Teaching Your Puppy to Respond to His or Her Name
Recommended Age: 6 to 7 weeks
Now that you’ve prepared your plan and avoided frustration over treats, the first thing you want to teach your dog is their name and to respond when you call them.
I always like to start with this training because it’s somewhat critical at that age and makes all future training just a little easier. The easiest way to train your dog to respond to their name is to positively reward them when they come to you upon calling their name or using a cue.
Here’s how to do it:
- Take your puppy to the training room and make sure that it’s quiet.
- Sit a few feet from your puppy and use the cue of choice, whether it’s their name or whistle, or the word “come”, then give them a treat a few feet away from you.
- Repeat the same action a few times and make sure that the treats are a little closer to you every time, regardless of the puppy’s location. Simply say the word or cue, then toss a treat.
- To get your dog to look at you when you call them, leave a treat near you. Once your puppy goes to eat it, call your dog and give it a treat as it looks towards you.
- After a few successful trials, start tossing the treats further away so that the puppy isn’t facing you, then call your puppy. Once they look and head towards you, give them another treat.
- Start calling your dog when they’re not looking at you without tossing a treat. As soon as they head towards you, give them a treat.
- Make sure that you don’t grab your dog as they come because puppies will get scared. Also, start praising your puppy when it comes to you along with the treats.
- Keep building up the training until your dog comes to you every time you call them while you’re staying in one place by increasing the distance.
- Next, start calling your dog while moving around to make your puppy chase you and give your puppy a treat every time it catches up with you (without grabbing the dog).
- Take the training to various areas around the house and call your dog across rooms before taking the training to secure outdoors.
How to Train Your Puppy to Walk on a Leash
Recommended Age: 6 to 7 weeks
At the age of 7 to 8 weeks, your dogs shouldn’t roam freely when you’re outside not only because they’re too young, but also because they aren’t fully vaccinated yet.
That’s why you need to train your puppy to walk on a leash early on. Ideally, leash training should take one session, but it’s also okay if it takes longer.
Here’s how to get your dog to walk freely on a leash:
- Start by introducing your dog to the leash and harness. Let the puppy sniff them out to feel safe around them.
- Put the harness loosely on your puppy but not too loose that it falls off. Allow your dog some time to get used to the harness on them, and give them a treat for handling the harness.
- Attach the leash to the harness and let your puppy walk freely with it while you call and treat them.
- Once your dog is comfortable around the leash. Pick a side that you want your puppy to walk by, and fill that side’s pocket with treats.
- Hold the leash and keep the puppy around you.
- Take one step forward with the leash, then give your puppy a treat from that side.
- Continue walking slowly and don’t mind the puppy’s jumping and signs of frustration as you walk. Don’t stop and comfort your puppy because this will reinforce the sensation that they’re in danger.
- Once your dog starts walking along in the same direction, stop and toss them a treat.
- Continue building up more distance by adding a few more steps of walking properly before stopping and treating.
- Take the training outdoors gradually by walking across rooms, then switching to a confined area outdoors.
Never pull hard or scold your puppy if it walks in other directions. Simply ignore them, and walk slowly in your direction without giving them treats, then reward them as soon as they correct their path.
How to Train Your Puppy to Use Beds and Crates
Now that your dog can easily respond to your cues and come to you at command, the next step is to crate and bed train your dog.
Bed Training – Recommended Age: 7 to 8 weeks
The benefit of crate training is that it helps you limit your puppy’s access to some parts of the house when he or she has just arrived, which lets you teach them various behavioral rules before gaining access to the whole house.
Additionally, you can use the crate to transport your puppies to various places easily and ensure their safety.
Here’s how to crate train your puppy:
- First, you want to choose a suitable crate, preferably a collapsible one with a removable top to make it less intimidating to your puppy at first. You also should get your dog a proper bed to make it easier for them to get inside the crate.
- Start by introducing the bed to your dog, and make sure that it’s a soft one to encourage them to like it.
- Toss a treat into the bed and praise your puppy as it heads towards the bed. You should also use a word like “bed” to create a cue for the future. Once your puppy settles on the bed, give him another treat to associate the bed with good things.
- Toss your dog a few more treats when they stay in the bed to encourage them to like it more.
- Stand a few feet away and call them. Treat them as they come, then toss another treat into the bed
- Continue building up the training by standing at the same distance, but pretend to toss a treat. Once they go to the bed, feed them another treat and praise them for going. Make sure that you don’t always pretend to throw a treat to keep the trick working!
- When your dog is ready to sleep at night, start giving them the bed cue, and treat them for resting in the bed without praise so they don’t get too excited.
Crate Training – Recommended Age: 8 to 11 weeks
Now that you’ve introduced the bed properly to your puppy and it becomes attached to it, you may start introducing the crate just a few days ahead.
Here’s how to crate train your dog:
- Start by introducing the puppy to the crate. Make sure that the care is open and easy to access with no top covers at first. Leave the crate in a suitable area where the family hangs out, such as living rooms.
- Allow your puppy to sniff around and explore the crate either from outside or inside. Make sure that you never push your puppy inside the crate or close the crate’s door when he or she goes inside on their own.
- Transfer the dog’s bed inside the crate while your puppy is watching. Some dogs may immediately go inside the crate after this happens. You may also use the bed cue and toss a treat into the bed. Luring the dog into the crate using the bed should only be done after creating a strong association with the bed.
- If your puppy is too scared to go inside the crate, toss another treat just in the entrance and allow your dog to eat it and stay back.
- Continue tossing the treats a few inches deeper into the crate and let your dog leave or stay. Your goal is to throw the treats all the way inside and your dog calmly goes inside the crate.
- Once your dog is fully inside the crate, continue giving him treats in order to encourage your puppy to stay as long as possible inside. You can also use the bed cue only if they respond to it very well. Whenever your dog wants to go out, never stop it!
- Next, you want to introduce your dog’s meals inside the crate. Put the food inside the crate and allow your dog to go inside and eat their meal. If your puppy refuses to go inside, you may pull the bowl a little closer to the entrance until they’re comfortable eating it.
Remember to never use the crate as a punishment for your dog and praise them with treats when they stay for a long time inside the crate. You can also pretend to throw a treat inside while queueing for the crate every now and then.
How to Train Your Puppy to Sit
Recommended Age: 6 to 8 weeks
“Sit” and “Stay” are among the most popular tricks that many dog owners like to teach their puppies.
Surprisingly, they’re quite easy and shouldn’t take a lot of time to master.
Here’s how to train a puppy to sit:
- Stand in front of your dog while holding some treats
- Put the treats above the puppy’s nose, and wait for the puppy to assume the sitting position.
- As soon as your dog sits, praise them and say “yes!”, and let them eat the treat.
- Repeat this a couple of times until your dog quickly assumes the sitting position for the treat.
- Hold out a treat, and say “sit” immediately as you put the treat on your dog’s nose, then let them have it after sitting.
- Continue this step a few times until your puppy associates sitting with reward.
- Build up time between sitting and getting the treat by holding out the treat for longer and then by placing your hand above the puppy’s head without a treat.
How to Train Your Puppy to Stay
Recommended Age: 6 to 8 weeks
Now that you’ve taught your puppy how to sit, it’s time to train them to stay. To do that, make sure that you’ve already trained them to come at command. The goal here is to let them know that this command is the opposite and only broken by the other.
- Start by using the sit command, once your dog sits, tell them “stay”, and treat them for staying
- Keep building up some time until your dog is capable of staying in the sit position for at least one minute.
- Give them the sit, then “stay” command, and move a couple of few away. If your puppy moves, tell them to stay (you should stop as well), then release the puppy by saying “come”, and toss a treat and a few praises.
- Repeat the action until your dog stays in place while you’re capable of moving around freely. Make sure to always release your dog by saying “come” or “go” with enthusiasm and praise.
- Continue building up by commanding your dog to directly stay without saying “sit” to separate the two commands.
- Once your dog responds immediately to stay, start leaving a room for a few seconds and coming back to release.
- Increase the time you go away before you return to the room, and keep the puppy staying after returning before releasing.
If the dog starts whining, avoid encouraging them to go louder by ignoring the whines. Instead, try to stretch out the training on more sessions and take a step back if your dog starts moving around.
How to Train Your Puppy to Stop Chewing On Things
Recommended Age: 8 to 10 weeks
Although dogs start teething at around 3 weeks old, they start to develop a knack for chewing on things around 8 to 10 weeks old.
Preventing that destructive behavior at an early age will make it easier to retire this habit forever.
Here’s how to do it:
- First, you should understand that it’s natural for dogs to tug and chew on things that dangle and move quickly. The goal here is to teach them to be calm and ignore these items.
- Provide your dog with some chewing toys to fulfill their natural need to bite and chew on things, as they also need it to keep their teeth sharp and clean for eating.
- When your dog bites you hard, making a high-pitched yelping sound like “Ouch!” will let your puppy know that it’s biting a little too hard.
- You can also bring a slowly dangling object like an old piece of fabric and tell your dog to sit, then feed them treats as they do. This associates ignoring the dangling object and staying still with being good and earring treats.
- Continue building up by increasing the dangling speed and telling the dog to stay, then rewarding them with treats and praises.
How to Potty Train Your Puppy
Recommended Age: 8 to 12 weeks
It may take some time for your puppy to understand bathroom rules, so it’s okay to wait a little before. However, if your dogs don’t learn these rules early on, they won’t follow them as they grow older.
The easiest way to potty train your puppy is by creating a healthy schedule according to your puppy’s bladder and bowel movement. Ideally, most puppies will need to go as soon as they wake up in the morning, a few minutes after every meal, and following naps.
Every time you take them outside, make sure that you go to the spot where they excrete and give them some time. Also remember to praise and reward your pup after every successful time they go to the bathroom where they should.
When Should You Train Your Puppy to Stay Alone?
At puppy-hood age, leaving your dog alone can create a heavy psychological impact and can easily develop into separation anxiety.
Ideally, you should wait until your dog is at least 3 to 4 months old before leaving them alone, and even then, you should only do so for a maximum of 1 to 2 hours.
Crate training your dog will come in handy during that time because you’ll usually leave them in the crate along with their toys during that time.
By the time your dog is 6 months old, you can extend the time alone to up to 4 hours. If you need to be away for longer than that, consider signing up for a dog nursery to keep your dog distracted and engaged.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Professional Dog Trainer?
Training your puppy yourself is a great bonding exercise but it can be a little too tedious, especially if you’re busy with work or other aspects of life. In that case, having a dog trainer is your best bet.
Dog trainers are highly experienced with all different breeds and personalities of dogs, which allows them to know how to approach your dog the right way. Of course, the cost of dog training sessions will vary depending on many factors, such as:
- The breed and current situation of your dog
- Whether your dog is training privately or within a group
- The structure of the training program
- The rates in your area, and more.
So, while it’s pretty difficult to set a price for professional dog trainers, you should expect the training session to cost you anywhere from $50 to more than $300 per class.
There you have it! A complete puppy training guide that walks you through the most skills and tricks that you need to teach your little doggy when they first arrive at your home.
The most important thing to keep in mind while training your dog is to allow your puppy some time to create the correlation and take a step back without punishing them if they need patience.