Before your new pup can master any out of the ordinary tricks, it’s super important to help them perfect the basics.
A dog who can roll over or fetch your paper is paw-some, but skips the essentials and go straight to these funner party tricks and you may be letting bad habits build up. Jumping up and covering you in mucky paw prints or running in the other direction when called during walkies, to name a couple.
With this in mind, we present the essentials on how to train your puppy, just in time for Train Your Dog Month.
Often the first command we teach our pooches, getting them to sit is all about associating the word with the action.
Have a treat or toy in your hand and hold it in front of them, then simply wait until they have their behind on the floor to reward them with it. Repeat the word ‘sit’ each time you practise and your puppy will quite quickly understand what they’re being asked to do.
Make sure they aren’t already standing back up before you give them the treat, as this is rewarding the wrong behaviour and will confuse your pup!
#2 No nipping
When Lucky is tiny, it’s probably not going to hurt too much when he bites and chews your hands. But the bigger he gets, the louder you’ll be saying ‘ouch’ at every nip.
One tried and tested way of training your pup not to bite is to quickly swap your hand for a toy or bone each time they go to chew, so they learn what’s theirs to get their teeth into. Another technique is to let them know it hurts by making an ‘ow’ sound and stopping playtime.
As with all training, consistency is key, so make sure everyone in your family sticks to the rules.
#3 Teaching them to come when called
Every owner wants to be able to let their dog off the lead. When can this become a problem? When your pooch refuses to come back to you when called.
Training your dog to respond to this command not only save you a lot of frustration watching them make a run for it in the opposite direction, but is vital for them to be safe on walks.
Start with small distances first in training, in the house or garden. You’ll need some incentives like tasty treats or their favourite toy to tempt them over while calling their name. Come down to their level and be ready to give them heaps of praise along with their incentive once they make their way to you, then keep practising over and over.
Once they get the hang of this, it’s time to start in outside spaces. A long lead is a handy tool at this point, as you can continue the training without letting your puppy roam completely free.
#4 Stop them jumping up
We’ve all made friends with an excitable pup who can’t wait to say hello by jumping up on you. Friendly and playful as this is, you’ll want to let them know it isn’t the right way to greet people.
The best way to tackle this is to ignore the unwanted behaviour. When you walk in a room and your dog starts leaping up, resist the cuteness and simply turn your back to them without reacting.
Then, as they calm down, ask them to sit and stay. Once they are sitting patiently, that’s the time to give them lots of attention and reward them. This way you are reinforcing a positive greeting and teaching them that jumping up is not worth the energy!
#5 Leave it
Who has ever had a lengthy tug of war with their dog after they’ve got hold of a pair of socks, a slipper or some completely random item they shouldn’t have between their teeth? We know we have, plenty of times.
That’s why leave or drop is a useful command to hone with your puppy as early as possible, important for keeping them safe and your things protected. There are a few steps to teaching your dog this command:
- Have two different types of treat - one fairly plain, and one more exciting and tasty to be the reward.
- Have the plain treat closed in one hand and let your canine pal have a sniff. Say ‘leave it’ until they stop sniffing and take their attention off your hand, then reward them with the tasty treat.
- Keep practising until your dog is quick to stop sniffing whenever you say ‘leave it’.
All of the above are great foundations for training your puppy. Help them get these right and you’ll have one well-behaved hound in no time!