Top 5 Puppy Training Tips

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: April 7, 2011
Top 5 Puppy Training Tips

Reviewed for accuracy on February 19, 2020, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM

You’ve just brought home a new puppy and you want to make sure to do everything right. But there’s so much that goes into raising a healthy, happy pup that knowing where to start can feel impossible!

Here are some simple puppy training tips that will streamline the process and help you and your new best friend start off your relationship on the right paw.

Potty Training + Treats = Success

When you head outside to take your pup for a potty break, don’t forget the treats! Make sure you have a special type of treat that’s really tasty and only reserved only for training, like freeze-dried treats.

Praising your dog for pottying in the right spot is helpful, but giving them a tasty morsel right after they finish teaches them that when they do their business outside, they get paid.

But don’t wait until you get back in the house to hand over the treat. Give your pup a chance to finish going potty, then give them the treat immediately so they make the connection between going outside the house and getting the reward.

Pair Grooming Tasks With Treats

Dogs need to be comfortable with a variety of handling throughout their lives, like during nail trims, ear exams, and basic grooming.

The best way to help dogs happily tolerate body handling is making it seem like a game during puppyhood.

You can teach your pup that basic grooming tasks aren’t scary by pairing them with treats. For example, gently examine your pup’s paw and nails for a moment, then immediately follow up with a treat.

Or lift their ear and briefly rub the inside, then hand over a treat. In time, your puppy will understand that handling can be fun.

Keep Your Puppy Busy With the Right Toys

Your new puppy has a curious and busy mouth, and the best way to keep them from destroying your shoes (and keep them safe at the same time) is to provide them with a variety of rotating toys and chews.

However, it’s important to pick the right sorts of toys. Plush squeaky toys are cute, but they won’t keep your pup busy for longer than a few minutes. Firm rubber toys that can be stuffed with goodies like peanut butter or dog biscuits are a better choice to keep your puppy happily focused.

You can challenge your pup by swapping out her busy toys for new ones every few weeks.

Socialization Makes a Difference

In order to develop into happy and confident adult dogs, puppies need ongoing socialization, or positive introductions to novel people, places, sounds, and environments before they reach 16 weeks old.

Gentle, puppy-directed socialization helps puppies learn to feel confident in new situations and enables them to develop into well-adjusted adult dogs. A puppy kindergarten class is a great start.

You can also do “continuing education” with your pup at friends’ homes and on quick errands to help round out your puppy’s social life.

Make sure your pups are dewormed and up to date on their appropriate vaccines prior to socialization or  being introduced to new environments. 

Keep It Positive

Being a new puppy parent can be frustrating. From the nonstop nips to the accidental puddles, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by raising your new best friend.

But no matter how tough it gets, remember that your puppy is just a baby that’s learning how to fit into the human world.

Puppies don’t arrive knowing what not to chew and where to potty, so using outdated training techniques like squeezing their muzzle shut if they nip or pushing their face if they soil the rug will do nothing but damage your relationship.

Keeping your relationship positive, from the way you interact every day to the puppy training methodology you use, will foster a happy partnership and lifelong bond.

By: Victoria Schade

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