If that great moment has finally arrived when you have a new partner for play and mischief, this is your perfect guide. There is nothing as simple as training a puppy correctly; just follow a few simple tips and see how, little by little, your dog will show off his great training.
Let’s review the main techniques that you should follow, but never forget that a puppy is a puppy, so you can’t be too demanding with them. It’s like trying to teach algebra to a one-year-old baby… it’s impossible, but we guide them down the right track, slowly and patiently.
The same is true with your puppy. You can make him understand the rules and guide him in the right direction, but it will be impossible to train him until he is at least six months old. When he reaches one year of age, that will be the time to train him more in depth and require him to learn properly.
If you don’t have your puppy yet and just want a little advice, let me guide you and ask that you never buy a dog – adopt one instead. There are thousands of dogs waiting for a home in kennels and animal shelters, and many of them are puppies, some with and some without pedigree (mixed breed). Let me tell you that mixes are as good as purebreds or even better, since they generally have much better health.
If you already have your puppy, congratulations! From now on, you will be a much happier person, believe me. Let’s get to work and start with the basic rules you should always follow, because if you don’t, you won’t see the same benefits for both you and your dog.
It’s very important to realize that a puppy doesn’t have the ability to learn quickly. He isn’t self-aware and just wants to play and discover the world. Don’t be hard on him, don’t demand anything of him, and don’t expect anything from him. Just give him cuddles, caresses and lots of love; that’s all you need. Apart from that, we’ll see some guidelines you should follow but always gently and nicely.
How to train a puppy: Teaching him to sleep
The first thing to do is decide if your puppy is going to sleep in the room where you sleep or in another room, such as the living room, dining room or kitchen. You should place a bed where you want him to sleep at night and another where you tend to spend the day. For example, you can put a bed in your room if he is always going to sleep there, and another in the living room, where you spend most of your time. This way, he can take naps whenever he wants without having to go to another part of the house; when they are this young, they always want to be with you.
Never get your dog used to sleeping with you and then send him to another part of the house a few months later, because he will think he’s done something wrong and it’s a punishment. Therefore it is better to decide on the final location where he will always sleep at night.
If that final location is not your room, for example, if it’s the kitchen, you’ll see that the first few nights when you leave him alone to sleep, he will start to whine. This is completely normal but you should never give in and go visit him to calm him down, because then he will realize that when he cries, you come. Then he’ll never learn to sleep alone; however, if you ignore him the first few nights, he’ll sleep quietly without whining forever, he just needs to get used to it.
Of course, give him a comfortable and cozy bed to sleep when he wants and always have fresh, clean water available. If you don’t have a bed for your puppy, get him a folded blanket so he can sleep on it, so that he never has to sleep on the cold, hard ground.
How to train a puppy: Teaching him to eat
Young puppies are very greedy; they always want to eat and they’ll eat the whole bag of food if you let them. The first thing you should know is the daily amount of food you should give him, which varies depending on his size and weight. If you give him commercial dog food, you’ll find the right dose on the back of the bag. Be aware that it should be food for puppies and not for adult dogs. If you give him natural food like the BARF diet, you should give him the equivalent of ten percent his weight, so if he weighs 8 lbs, you will give him 0.8 lbs (about 12 oz) throughout the day.
Dogs are creatures of habit, so you should feed him every day at the same times. I say “times” (plural) because puppies need to eat three or four times a day, so if you have to give him 12 oz, you will give three doses of 4 oz or four doses of 3 oz.
Put his food bowl near his water in case he gets thirsty while eating. Starting when he’s a puppy, get him used to the fact that you can reach into his food when you want, or even take it away, without him getting upset. It could be that the first few days that you take his food away while he’s chowing down, he’ll get a little angry, but he’ll get used to it soon. This doesn’t mean that you should take his food away every day, but you should teach him that, as his owner, you can reach into his bowl while eating or take his food away without complaint and the best way is to do it occasionally from puppyhood. Of course, then you give his food back so he can finish eating.
If your dog eats too fast, you should teach him to take it easy. There are some fantastic feeders with bulges inside, keeping your dog from eating too quickly, forcing him to eat somewhat more slowly, which is something very positive.
Don’t let your puppy exercise after eating; it’s advisable for him to take a nice nap, but if he doesn’t want to, just ignore him so he can play alone or relax a bit somewhere. After eating, he should rest in order to get the most out of all the nutrients he consumed and to avoid digestive problems.
How to train a puppy: Teaching him to do his business outside
Teaching your puppy to relieve himself outside the house is very simple, but you have to be patient. Once your puppy has his vaccinations, you can take him outside for a walk and teach him. Some dogs can be housebroken in four months and others six months… every dog is different, and each case is different, so the time can vary slightly. Don’t lose hope. Follow these steps, and you’ll see how he progresses very positively.
When your dog poops or pees in the house, you shouldn’t scold him, give him a dirty look or get angry (they notice). You just have to clean up the mess and go on with your daily routine.
As we said, dogs are creatures of habit, so you have to take him outside at least three or four times a day to do his business. Always take him for a walk at the same time of day so he gets used to it and can learn to hold it until walk time.
This isn’t achieved in a week or even three. You will need time but believe me, everything will be fine and your puppy will learn perfectly. Go for a walk with them in the morning, noon, afternoon and in the evening before bedtime. Puppies that aren’t vaccinated shouldn’t have contact with other dogs or go to places where other dogs pee or poop to avoid getting sick from any disease.
When you’re with your puppy on a walk and see him peeing or pooping, wait for him to finish and praise him enthusiastically. Give him a dog biscuit or a small piece of healthy fruit so he sees that peeing outside is very good and has a reward. You should do this every time he pees or poops outside; in this way, he’ll learn very quickly to do it outside all the time. Some dogs do their business outside after just four months and other take them a little longer. Be patient with him.
How to train a puppy: Teaching him to walk
No puppy likes to wear a collar and much less a leash. It feels like his freedom is restricted, which is very understandable. Unfortunately, dogs can’t go loose in the street because they can escape and get hurt by a vehicle or get lost. In many cities it’s mandatory to use a leash or you’ll get a fine, do your research.
It’s very important to start his socialization as soon as possible, usually once he’s gotten his shots (three months old). Socialization will create a tolerant dog with other dogs and humans; it’s a really important process. You can read in depth: Tips to properly socialize a dog.
Put a collar on your puppy, not too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and his neck without it getting too tight. Keep in mind that your dog will grow very fast, so watch to make sure the collar is never too tight; you should make it larger every so often. It’s best to leave the collar on at all times, outdoors and indoors, until he is an adult and is used to it. In this way, he’ll soon get used to wearing the collar and won’t try to remove it constantly.
Before leaving the house, put on the leash. I recommend you use a short leash, not more than six feet and not extendable. You’re teaching your puppy to walk, not to do as he pleases with an excessively long leash. Open the door of your house and you go out first, then your dog should come out but only when you say so. Get him used to going out with a command like “come” or “let’s go”.
During the walk, be patient with him. Puppies walk much more slowly than you and also don’t like to walk; they just want to run. I recommend you go to a park or place where you can take off the leash and let him run and play, let him get it all out, get tired and enjoy life. When he’s tired, before returning home, will be the perfect time to walk a little and teach him.
You should get him used to walking beside you or behind you, never let him walk in front of you, pulling. That’s like telling him he’s the boss, he is the leader of the pack, something he shouldn’t believe. If he starts walking in front of you, follow the instructions in this post: How to teach my dog or puppy to walk.
When you get home, you go inside first and then tell him to come inside with a command like “come” or “come in”. It’s very important to always be the first to enter and leave the house; if you get them used to it as puppies it will be second nature. If you let your dog leave or enter the house before you, it’s like saying he can do whatever he pleases, which can confuse him a lot.
How to train a puppy: Teaching him to be at home
Although puppies are cute and as adorable as they are, they don’t listen to us. We should slowly and very gently start teaching them how to live with us. By following some simple rules, with time and a little patience, you’ll be able to live in perfect harmony.
When your puppy is barking inside the house, don’t laugh or pet him – scold him a bit with a “no!”. This way he’ll quickly learn that he shouldn’t bark at home, so he won’t disturb you or your neighbors.
When you’re eating, never give him a piece of your food. Besides being unhealthy for your puppy, he’ll get used to being by your side when you eat, always waiting for a piece of food to fall or for you to give him one. He’ll start to whine and to put on that “sad little puppy dog face”. Don’t make the mistake of giving him your food; he has his own.
You decide when to start and when to finish playing. Always remember, he must understand that you as the “alpha male” have the power to start and stop playing anytime. That doesn’t mean that if he comes with a toy you shouldn’t play with him, you can do it whenever you want. But you must teach him that you won’t always play – only when you decide to.
When he chews furniture or breaks something, you shouldn’t scold him; you should only scold him if you catch him doing it. If you catch him in the act, biting something he shouldn’t or breaking something, scold him with a serious and firm “no!”. Never hit him or scold him for something he did a while ago because he won’t know the reason for the scolding. More info if he chews on everything: Teething period in dogs.
Don’t let him get on the sofa or bed; he has his own bed and must respect your space. The sofa and the bed are for you, not for him.
How to train a puppy: Teaching him to be happy
Puppies are puppies – they just want to play and discover the world. Don’t go overboard with training and educating them. Let them grow and give them a few simple guidelines like those mentioned in this article. To train a dog you should wait until he is at least six months old. It’s more advisable to wait until he’s one year old before beginning to train him.
Dogs live day to day. Every day he’ll want to go for a walk, play, see other dogs, sleep… Enjoy those moments, give him lots of love and praise him enthusiastically whenever he does something right. When he does something wrong, a simple “no!” is more than enough.
Be responsible with your puppy. He will need shots and a medical card for when he gets sick. Contact a veterinarian near your home and make sure your dog is always current. Good nutrition, proper training, daily exercise and lots of love is all you need for a dog to be happy.
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