7 Puppy Training Tips

6 Top Tips for Training a Puppy

When it comes to puppy training, there’s a lot to think about and it can be more than a bit overwhelming if you’ve never done it before.

Here are some of our top puppy training tips for getting the ball rolling with your furry new arrival!

Decide on Your Boundaries

Before you start your puppy training, lay out the ‘house rules’ in your mind.

Will your puppy be allowed to go on beds and furniture, for example? Will they have the freedom to go anywhere in the home or will certain areas be out of bounds?

If you’ve got everything clear from the very beginning, it avoids any confusion between you and your puppy that could derail your training success further down the line.

Being consistent with what you tell your dog is a key basis for successful puppy training. If your puppy is allowed to do certain things at first and then gets in trouble for it, they won’t understand what they’ve done wrong.

It’s also important to consider that behaviour displayed by a puppy can be quite different when it is displayed by an adult dog, for example jumping up. While a small puppy jumping up is cute, it’s a different story when it’s a fully grown dog, particularly when it comes to bigger breeds.

Be sure to consider what certain behaviours will look like when your puppy is grown up, and don’t encourage behaviours you’ll later end up discouraging, as this is confusing for your dog.

Speak to Your Vet About Neutering or Spaying

It’s very important to speak to your vet about when is the right time to get your dog neutered or spayed as there can be lots of influencing factors. These include breed, predisposed conditions and expected adult size.

Some pet owners may want to get their puppies neutered or spayed specifically to improve certain behaviours, help them calm down, or make them easier to train, but it’s important not to rely on neutering or spaying as a ‘quick fix’. Neutering or spaying are unlikely to solve any behavioural issues on their own, especially if the dog has already learnt the behaviour. In some cases it can actually exacerbate behavioural problems.

However, there can be several benefits to getting your dog neutered or spayed if done at the right time, so be sure to have the conversation with your vet early.

Be Patient – Especially with Puppy Toilet Training

Before they’re fully trained, your puppy will have no idea how to behave ‘properly’ and mistakes are an inevitable part of their learning process. It’s important to remain understanding, calm and patient at all times, particularly with shy puppies. Try not to be domineering or overly firm.

Accidents will happen too! Never get cross with your puppy for making mistakes such as going to the toilet in the wrong place, as this can actually result in worse behaviour. For example, if you tell your puppy off during toilet training, they may actually become fearful of going to the toilet in front of you, making them more likely to run off and find a secret place in the house to go.

To help with puppy toilet training in particular, it’s a good idea to have plenty of puppy training pads to hand. Having a designated area for your pup to go to the toilet (preferably outside) and encouraging them to do their business there is the best way to toilet train a puppy. But when accidents inevitably happen, swiftly and calmly popping a puppy training pad beneath them is a good way to protect your carpets!

Start With the Recall Command

Teaching your puppy to come to you when called is a key foundation in their training, helping you both stay safe and enjoy lots of adventures together.

When teaching your puppy recall, it’s important to choose a verbal command that is clear and concise. You may also want to use a hand gesture as part of your cue.

For some people the use of a whistle can be helpful to ensure the sound has consistency if multiple people are training the puppy.
Don’t overuse your cues during training, as your dog might not associate the command with the action.

Most importantly, make sure your puppy learns that coming to you results in something positive, like praise, their favourite toy, or a treat. Use whichever reward your pet finds most valuable.

It’s really important to practise recall training in a low distraction environment. Working on this skill at home where you can more easily control the goings on around you is fundamental in helping to build that all-important positive association with the command.

Particularly at the beginning of your puppy training, don’t expect your pup to be able to focus in an outside environment where there are a whole host of exciting sights and smells to distract them!

Use Plenty of Praise and Rewards

A rewards-based training system is the best way to build a great relationship with your pet. This approach reinforces the idea that successfully mastering training commands leads to positive experiences. Giving your pet praise and treats when they’ve done something right during puppy training is therefore very important.

Never punish bad behaviour. Scolding or physically punishing a puppy are not only damaging to your dog, but they are also not effective and won’t help your puppy learn. In fact, punishment can lead to worse behavioural problems.

Don’t Over-train Your Puppy

During puppy training sessions, avoid over-training and making your dog tired. If your pup is not understanding something, don’t just keep going again and again, as this will be frustrating for both you and your pup.

The best thing to do is ‘reset’. For example, if your puppy can’t figure out what you’re asking them to do, you can throw a treat across the room for them to have in order to break their attention from the task at hand. Upon their return, they will be ‘reset’ and have a fresh slate to try again. If after three attempts your dog still hasn’t got it, take a break and try and think of a new way to get the response you want.

Using this method also means your pup is still receiving the reward too, so they aren’t being ‘punished’ by not getting a treat just for not understanding.

Ending training sessions on a really positive note with lots of praise and some play will help them to look forward to training and see it as something fun.

Consider Puppy Training Classes Near You

Attending local puppy training classes can be a great way to consolidate what you are learning at home. They are also the ideal place to pick up advice and feedback from an expert to make sure your training techniques are up to scratch.

You can find reputable classes using the Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme. Search for a club with puppy training classes near you and get in touch to find out when they take place. Classes are usually once a week and there are over 1700 organisations throughout the UK that promote the scheme.

Puppy training classes are usually held in a group with other dogs, so it’s very important that your pup has had all their vaccinations before attending one.

We hope these puppy training tips will prove useful with your own new arrival. Just remember to always be calm, assertive, and rewarding of good behaviour. Never punish your dog, and always remain patient – your pup is trying their best!