It’s an amazing image to see a well-trained dog that can do tricks and follow basic commands. But the problem here is that training should start when your dog is still a puppy. Training your puppy isn’t an easy task to do especially if you consider the fact that you need to know certain techniques and ways that can help make training simpler and smoother. So, how exactly do you train your puppy so that it can learn tricks and do basic commands?
The best way to train your puppy is to do tricks and commands through positive reinforcement. Many people forget how powerful positive reinforcement is when training their puppies. That is why this can be a daunting task for those who don’t know the proper way to do positive reinforcement.
It might sound simple enough at first that you only have to learn how to do positive reinforcement when training your puppy, but there are many more things to know aside from that. There are basics we need to discuss and learn before we can actually get to know how to properly train a puppy to do proper tricks and simple commands that all dogs should know.
What is the best age to train your puppy?
Knowing what the best age is to start training your puppy is important because there will come a time when they will reach a certain age wherein they are much more receptive to positive reinforcement in comparison to when they get older than that age or when they are still at an age too early for training.
However, it is not always easy to determine what age it is to train your puppy because the word “puppy” can be pretty vague. After all, the moment a dog comes out of its mother’s womb, it already is a puppy. So, how do we qualify what it means to be a puppy ready to be trained?
You can actually begin puppy training as soon as the little guy is about eight weeks old or two months old. However, it might be best for you to begin training when the puppy is between three to four months old. You should save the first three months of the puppy’s life to basic learning, such as allowing it to explore its environment and learn more from the things around it.
It is best to wait until the puppy reaches a certain age because the first three months of a dog’s life are considered to be the most crucial. That is when the puppy is still trying to learn more about its world and its surroundings. During the first three months, the puppy is still adjusting to its environment and trying to figure out what is normal or not.
As such, if you bought the puppy from a breeder or if you are the one that bred the puppy itself, it is still better for you to wait for two to four months until you start training it. In some cases, however, some puppies can be trained as early as eight weeks old when they are already safe to bring home from a breeder. But most people who start training puppies at that age tend to limit training to five to ten minutes a day so that the puppy will not feel overwhelmed.
Otherwise, it is still better for you to wait at least three months to start training the puppy. Allow it to be itself during the first three months and form its own personality as it learns more about the world around it and explores its surroundings. Don’t rush into training, or else you probably won’t end up with a puppy that’s happily obedient and well-trained.
The problem arose when the puppy came from a breeder that didn’t give it the best living conditions when it was still in its first three months. Some breeders tend to house puppies in cages as soon as they can before selling them off. This could lead to behavioral problems because the puppy won’t be able to explore its world as often, and it might try to seclude itself from the world due to how its life started on the wrong foot.
In that case, your job as a pet owner is to first reshape the puppy’s behavior before training it with simple commands. Make sure that you bond with your puppy and allow it to be itself before you try to force it into difficult training sessions. Encouragement and positive reinforcement are the key elements at this stage of your puppy’s life.
What is the first thing you should train your puppy?
When your puppy is already old enough to be trained and you are now thinking about the first things you need to teach it, you should always start with the basics. That means that you should go with what is easy first before you start training your puppy with the more complicated things.
Now, the first thing that you should train your puppy can vary depending on the type of dog you have and your needs and preferences as a pet owner. However, here are the five things you may want to choose from when you are looking for the first thing to teach your puppy:
- Potty training
Yes, that’s right. Potty training should be one of the first things you should teach your puppy for obvious reasons. No responsible owner wants their dog to do its business anywhere, thinking that it owns the place. That is why it is important for you, as a god owner, to make sure that young Fido knows where and when to do his business.
Potty training might not be the simplest thing to teach your puppy at the start, but it is very much important for obvious reasons, again. You have to be patient when potty training your dog because of how vital it is for it to do its business the correct way. As such, dog owners might want to prioritize potty training above all other commands when starting their puppy’s training.
- Mouthing and chewing
When puppies are young, they explore their environment through their different senses. If they cannot understand one thing with their senses of sight, hearing, and smell, they do so with their sense of taste. That’s why, other than the fact that puppies love chewing stuff while their teeth are still growing, they love to use their mouths to learn more about things.
It is not uncommon for puppies to be biting on anything because that is one of the basic ways to learn more about the environment around them or even about the people or other animals near them. So, you shouldn’t wonder why your puppy is actually mouthing on you by giving you a gentle bite from time to time.
The problem with this type of behavior arises when the puppy gets used to biting things it shouldn’t. As such, it might end up becoming a bit more violent with its mouthing and may end up hurting people. That is why you need to make sure that your dog is properly trained to use its mouth the correct way. Let it know when its nipping begins to hurt so that it will actually learn that mouthing on things, people, and animals isn’t something it should frequently do.
- Its name
We all give our dogs proper names because we love calling them by their names. But are we really sure that our dogs know their names? That is why it is important for us to teach our puppy its name as early as possible so that it will begin to associate its name with itself. After all, a name is more than just a name for your puppy and yourself because it is the basic connection that will form a lifelong bond between you and your furry pal.
The basic reasons why your puppy needs to know its name is for you to have a way of getting its attention and looking your way whenever you want your canine friend to focus on you. In other words, the name of your puppy is somewhat a command that prompts it to give you its attention for whatever reason. It may be the foundational command that will open the doors for other commands in the future, such as when you call its name first before you ask it to sit or to come to you.
- Daily routines
While daily routines are not necessarily commanded, they are important to teach your puppy when you are still training. The reason is that the puppy’s daily routine forms the larger part of its life and its routine is what it will be doing whenever you are not bonding together or giving it commands.
The puppy needs to adjust to its daily routine, such as knowing where its food bowl is or where it should go to get a drink of water. Even something as simple as following your usual daily schedule should be taught to your puppies, such as allowing it to adjust to the time you wake up in the morning and the time you go to bed. It would be best to teach your puppy where its bed is or where it should be sleeping at night.
Your puppy’s daily routine is what will form a huge part of its life. And as long as it knows what to do regularly without you giving it commands, your canine pal will be able to take care of itself for the most part because it knows when and where to eat and drink and how to find the best places to sleep on.
- Knowing how to trust you
Before anything else and before you start teaching your puppy basic commands and tricks, you need to teach it how to trust you first. Trust is the basic building block between you and your dog. After all, if your dog doesn’t trust you enough, it will never learn how to follow your commands or even give you the loyalty you expect from it.
So, first things first, you should always be kind to your puppy because kindness will allow it to learn that you are not someone it should be afraid of. Do not scream at your dog or kick it whenever you feel like it is misbehaving. Instead, always be kind to your puppy because that is how it will learn that you are someone worthy of its trust and loyalty.
Of course, bonding sessions are also important in building a trustworthy relationship between you and your pup. Simply hanging out together, such as watching television or relaxing in the yard, can already be enough for your puppy to build a bond with you and learn that you are someone it can trust.
Trust can really go a long way when it comes to puppy training. So long as you are giving your dog a reason to trust you, you will find that training won’t be too a task too difficult on your part. That’s why it is important to be consistent in the way you treat your dog. Be kind to it and always make your puppy feel like you are its haven.
How do you train your puppy?
Training your puppy might be a challenging task for those who are still training their first dogs. But once you get used to it and once it becomes a daily routine, you probably won’t think about how difficult it is for you to teach your puppy some basic tricks. Of course, puppy training should revolve around positive reinforcement on your part. That is why you need to be as kind and as considerate to your dog as possible.
Here are some step-by-step guides that can help you train your puppy depending on what you want to teach it:
Potty training your puppy
Potty training should be one of the first things to teach your puppy because it allows it to know where to do its business properly. On top of that, potty training also allows you to have a neater home because there will only be a few spots wherein little Fido will urinate and defecate. Follow these steps, and you’ll be able to teach your puppy where to go potty properly:
- Use puppy crates to help teach your dog where to go potty
Some dog owners probably wouldn’t like the idea of keeping their puppies in crates because of how it seems a bit too restricting in terms of their movement and freedom. However, dogs are actually denning creatures that need to have their own safe place to have a sense of security. In this case, the crate acts as that den.
When your pup associates its crate as its living space, it won’t try to urinate or defecate there. Contrary to what some people think, dogs are actually neat animals that love keeping their space clean. As such, when you keep your pup inside a crate, it will give you signals when it already wants to do its business. That’s the time you should let it lose out of its cage so that it can go potty elsewhere.
The rationale for crate training is to allow your dog to realize that it is not alright to go potty in an area it deems as its haven or its safe space. When you are ready to let your puppy live in a place outside its crate, that’s the time it will begin to realize that it cannot just do its business in places that both of you regard as living spaces.
- Move on to puppy pads
One of the first steps to take when teaching your puppy when and where to go potty is by using puppy pads. These puppy pads are there to give your puppy the idea that it should hold its waste while it is still indoors but are still given the option to relieve itself in a specified space in the house. In this case, that space is the puppy pad. Without that pad, the puppy won’t try to relieve itself indoors and will most probably only try to do its business outdoors.
However, you should keep in mind that you shouldn’t be using a puppy pad for a long time. Try to decrease your frequency of use as the puppy gets older. Once your dog is big and old enough, that is when you should try to train it only to do its business outdoors.
- Make sure that you get used to your puppy’s schedule
Puppies are different from adult dogs because they won’t be able to hold them in for long periods of time, considering how small their bladders and intestines are. That means that they will be relieving themselves much more frequently.
On your part, you should make sure that you also get used to your puppy’s schedule. Most puppies are the same, but it sometimes depends on the type of dog and its size. A usual six-month-old puppy will have the following schedule:
- The moment it wakes up in the morning
- Before it goes to bed at night
- After spending time playing indoors
- After spending time in its puppy crate
- When it wakes up from a mid-day nap
- Right after chewing on one of its toys
- Right after every meal
- Right after drinking water
Your job, in this case, is to observe these moments and take your puppy to the places where you want it to relieve itself. For example, after you both wake up in the morning, take the puppy outside to do its business outdoors and not indoors. Doing so will realize that it should only do its business in designated areas during specific times.
Teaching your puppy to come
Teaching your puppy to come is actually one of the most basic things you need to teach it. After all, one of the most important aspects of the relationship between the pet owner and the pet is to have the pet come at the pet owner’s command when needed.
The first thing that needs to be considered here is getting the puppy to get used to its name. Simply using the name as often as possible while referring to the puppy will associate the name with itself. The next step is to train it to come to you whenever you call out its name.
In some cases, it is already effective enough that your puppy shifts its attention towards you when you call out its name. It is not always advisable that it actually comes to you after you call its name because some owners don’t necessarily want their dogs to come to them after calling out their name.
So, in this case, what you need to do is to make sure that the puppy associates its name with you calling out its attention. Use treat such as its favorite food while using the command word “come” for the puppy to come close to you. Using the treat as positive reinforcement will allow the puppy to have a reason to come to you.
Once it has become a habit for the pup to come to you when you use the command word associated with that behavior, you can steadily remove the treat from the equation until it finally associates your command word and the behavior as two things that have to come together.
How to teach your puppy to sit and stay
Aside from “come,” some of the more basic things you need to teach your dog are sit and stay. These tricks are a bit more difficult to teach your dog than simply asking it to come close to you. However, with the use of positive reinforcement, doing so still is very much possible.
To train a dog to sit, stand in front of your puppy while holding a treat. When the dog sits while waiting for you to give it a treat, use a command word in conjunction with the behavior so that it will associate its action with the reward. Take a step back and wait for the puppy to stand up once again and then sit down so that it will receive the treat it wants from you. Do this repeatedly for 10 minutes a day until you no longer need to use a treat to make it sit.
Teaching a dog to stay requires you to have a prompt word and a release word. The prompt word will prompt it to stay in its place, while the release command will make the puppy want to move again.
When you want to teach your puppy to stay, you have to teach it the release word first by placing a treat in front of it on the floor and use the prompt word as soon as it stops to eat the treat. Do this repeatedly until your dog already associates staying in a place with the prompt word.
After that, teach the dog the release command by waiting for a few moments after it stays in its place before you give it another treat. As soon as the dog starts moving, use the release word to associate the movement with the word and the treat. You can steadily increase the time between the prompt word and the release word every time you train your dog.
Simple command examples
As seen from the simple tricks we have shown, the key in teaching your dog how to do certain actions is by making sure you use command words in conjunction with specific behaviors and a reward right after the dog acts. That is the very essence of how positive reinforcement works in puppy training.
Here are some more simple command examples you can use in conjunction with positive reinforcement:
The look command is quite easy as all you need to do is catch your dog’s attention. You can do so by using its name as the command word or by simply using the word “look.” At the start, you can use a treat to make the dog want to look at you.
- Lie down
Lie down is a more advanced movement in comparison to sit and stay. It is an important command that dogs need to learn because lying down can prevent them from misbehaving. The lie-down command will also open more opportunities for other commands such as “rollover.”
The wait command is the higher level of the stay command. When telling your dog to wait, you are basically asking it not to move until you give it the release word to move once again. The difference between wait and stay is that the wait command doesn’t always require your dog to sit down or lie down because it can simply wait in its place while standing up or doing some other activity as long as it doesn’t move forward.
- With me
For those who want to walk with their dogs on a leash, the “with me” command is very important because it prevents your pup from pulling the leash over to another location without you pulling it back to where you want to go. Teaching the “with me” command is effortless because all you need to do is use a lure such as a treat while associating the command with the treat so that it will go the direction you want it to go every time you use the “with me” command.