Bringing home your first puppy can be exciting and even life-changing. Puppies fill our lives with joy, love and playfulness. They also present newfound challenges and responsibilities like getting him vaccinated, potty training, crate training and of course, socializing your dog. Below are the basic skills to teach your puppy on its first week in his forever home. Remember that when puppy training is attended to wisely, the result is a delightful and cherished family companion.
One of the first things you will likely notice after bringing home your new pup will be what can seem like an endless need to chew. Chewing is a natural process and especially prevalent during teething, from 16 weeks to 7 or 8 months old (1).
It’s important to remember that chewing is not a sign of bad behavior. Chewing is part of play, as well as necessary to relieve the discomfort of teething. Just about anything within puppy’s reach at this time is fair game for chewing — socks, shoes, yoga mat, furniture, as well as your delightfully fleshy body parts!
It’s essential during teething time to establish a healthy discipline and training pattern so your puppy will clearly get the message. First, when your puppy chews where you don’t want her to, say “no” loudly to gain her attention and immediately give her an ice cube or chew toy. When she accepts this new item, offer her friendly words and attention.
Biting can be treated similarly to chewing, yet there is another step here to consider. Remember, puppies bite when playing with other puppies in the litter, so biting should not be considered bad behavior, either. Puppies respond to being bitten too hard by losing enthusiasm for the game and walking away, so you can use a similar method. As such, you can stop your dog from biting when they’re excited by saying “ouch” loudly and walk away. If he continues to go after you, remind him with a sharp “no” and immediately give the puppy his chew toy. When he accepts, lavish with positive attention.
Experiment to find the best dog treats for your puppy. I used small bits of chicken to train my dog to come when called, and to sit, stay, roll over, and walk at heel in no time! Start training after two months, but remember younger puppies have short attention spans. Train in a distraction-free environment within 5-10 minute bouts so your puppy doesn’t become overwhelmed. Start with learning how to come as it’s both easy to teach and a practical starting point from which to train more advanced tricks.
Squat on the floor. Spread out your arms and say “come!” If the puppy comes to you, gently pat her and give her a treat. If she doesn’t, go slowly to her, attach her leash, guide her to the spot where you were, then give her a pat. Never punish your pup. A strong “no” is enough to get her attention. Punishment will teach her to try and avoid you.
For sitting, stand in front of your puppy and calmly show him that you have a treat. Bring the treat behind your puppies head, and see if his buttocks naturally move toward the floor as he attempts to follow your hand with his nose. If he doesn’t naturally sit, very gently nudge his buttocks down towards the ground and say “sit.” When your puppy makes contact with the ground, repeat “sit” and offer your puppy the treat.
With these tricks established, you’re on the road to success!