Training your new puppy can be overwhelming—there’s so much to do! Luckily, your best friend is an eager student and ready to learn. But where to start?
Let’s take a look.
When should you train your puppy?
You can start formal training as soon as you bring your puppy home, which should be around 8 weeks. With that said, your puppy is constantly learning new things through various interactions with you, other fur family members and the environment around them!
Every day is a lesson, which is why you need to be mindful of how you behave, speak to and engage with your puppy. For example, reacting positively by laughing when they lick your face teaches them that it’s okay, and they’ll continue doing it.
If this is not a behaviour that you enjoy, then you need to teach your pup not to do it. You can do this by turning your head away, giving them something else to occupy their mouths with (such as a toy) or rewarding them when they are close to your face and don’t lick.
What are the most important things to teach a puppy?
To start off on the right paw, teach your puppy his or her name, and then the vital “come” command. This will make the rest of your training a whole lot easier. It’s also a great command for them to know for when they ever get out the gate, are lost or if you just need to get their attention.
You can then move on to crate training, socialisation and other basic manners such as not biting your hands. Whatever you decide to teach first, remember that puppies, much like children, learn best with positive reinforcement. If you react positively by giving your pup a reward, treat or praise, then they’ll likely repeat the good behaviour.
Avoid shouting or punishing your puppy, as this will lead to avoidance, confusion, pent-up aggression or even a breach of trust. The key is to ignore bad behaviours and instead distract or get their attention when they’re doing something wrong to get them to stop.
How to train your puppy at home
Although you can start training from 8 weeks, young pups only have enough of an attention span to remember the basics. That’s why it’s important to keep training sessions short, fun and filled with tons of opportunities to play.
Be sure to start your training sessions when they are well-rested and give them enough time to go potty before and after each lesson. You’ll be feeding your pup quite a few treats throughout your training, so select something that’s healthy yet tasty, and low in calories, to avoid overfeeding.
Toys are also a great way to fill up play breaks for when your pup needs to let off some steam. Give your pooch a toy that’s fun but tough enough to handle those sharp little teeth. These Beeztees Sumo toys are great for an exciting game of tug or fetch. They can even be filled with yummy snacks if your puppy is a bit more independent and wants to play alone.
Note that training will be different depending on how old your pup is. This leads us to the next section: Puppy training by the ages.
Puppy training: 8 to 10 weeks
At this stage, your training is going to involve getting them used to their environment and teaching them proper puppy etiquette. You can kick-start their training by doing the following:
Set up a schedule for daily training
Puppies thrive off a well-established routine. When setting up a good schedule, be sure to include your puppy’s meal, play and nap times as well as any training sessions or potty breaks.
Once you’ve set up a good routine, it may look something like this:
Socialise your pup
Puppies should not be socialising with other dogs up until they’ve had their first vaccination. Be sure that whichever puppy school you enroll your pooch into also has strict vaccination protocols, and that all the dogs registered are vaccinated.
Do not socialise your pup with dogs outside of the school until after ALL vaccinations have been given (this is normally after around 4 months of age).
You can still introduce your pup to as many people as possible but in small infrequent doses. Keep the meetings short to avoid overwhelming your puppy.
House train your puppy
Make housetraining a core focus during this time. Your pup has a teeny tiny bladder and will need to go out at least every two hours. Be sure to get puppy training pads that you can direct your puppy to in order to make potty training easy and mess-free.
Start crate training
Crates are a great way to house train your pup. Be sure to fill the crate with tough toys and comfortable but durable bedding. Start slowly by leaving your puppy in the crate with the door open for 15 minutes at a time. You can gradually work your way to leaving your puppy in the crate for longer periods as time goes on.
To learn more, check out our blog on How to Crate Train Your Puppy in 5 Easy Steps.
Teach your puppy new tricks
Get your pup comfortable with the lead. You’ll be needing it for walks and any car trips that go beyond seeing the vet. Hook the leash onto your puppy’s harness and allow your pooch to get used to it. Go on a brisk walk in the yard to get your pup acclimated to it.
This is also a good time to teach your puppy to “come” and “sit”. You’ll be using these commands frequently throughout your outdoor adventures.
Puppy training: 10 to 12 weeks
During the next few weeks, you’re going to be focusing on:
Continue introducing your puppy to new people. Go on outings that are dog-friendly, but that don’t have a lot of doggos around, like the beach or a friend’s house.
Get a vast supply of chomp-friendly toys to prevent your curious pup from chomping the furniture.
After getting them used to the crate, you can start practicing leaving them alone with the door closed. Start leaving your pup in the crate for 30 minutes and adjust your schedule accordingly.
Get your puppy used to various forms of handling, such as checking their teeth, ears, nose and mouth for any signs of abnormalities. This will prepare them for grooming sessions later on. In the meantime, you can start brushing those teeth (because puppy breath is definitely a thing).
Puppy training: 3 to 4 months
Good news! Your puppy is now fully vaccinated and can start socialising with other dogs. Avoid dog parks, as they may not be ready for all that stimulation. Rather opt for friendly, well-socialised dogs in the neighbourhood or at a friend’s.
Your puppy should know a few basic tricks and commands by now. The important one is the recall command. Continue to improve on it by getting your pup to “stay” for longer. Make sure that when you ask them to come, it’s done right away and without hesitation.
Be sure to take your pup on frequent walks. Give praise and rewards for good behaviour, such as listening to commands, waiting patiently and so on.
Puppy training: 4 to 6 months
Congrats! Your puppy has finished all the basics of training. But that doesn’t mean the learning needs to end!
Much like school, humans don’t stop using the skills they’ve learnt once they graduate, and your puppy is the same way. Sharpen those skills every chance you get by practicing everything that you have both learned.
Your puppy is still going to experience so many new things, meaning there are still tons of new tricks and behaviours to learn. Remember to keep those tasty snacks at your ready, and start incorporating other forms of praise, such as play or adventurous car rides.