You just brought home a new puppy. What an exciting time!
There’s so much to teach your new best friend, and while puppy training might seem a little overwhelming at first (hello, potty training!), the good news is you have an eager student at the end of the leash. Puppies are ready and willing to start learning good manners as soon as you bring them home, so the best time to start training puppy obedience is now.
It’s important to note that all of your interactions with your puppy are potential lessons; everything from the way you greet them (are you allowing them to jump up on your legs?) to how you walk them on leash (are you following while they drag you along?) will teach your puppy what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
Even though the training you do with your puppy when first bringing them home might seem basic, it will serve as the foundation for “higher learning” as they mature. Remember: Training is never done, and success depends on working on the behaviors in new environments and practicing what you learn every day!
So, if you’ve just adopted a new puppy, prioritize these three simple puppy training tasks during your puppy’s training schedule to help build the foundation for an obedient and well-mannered dog:
- Crate training
- Potty training
- The “sit” command
But first, let’s go over some general guidelines for your puppy training sessions that’ll help ensure they are as productive as possible.
The Best Way to Train a Puppy
Pups as young as 8 weeks old have the capacity to learn the basics, but remember: The younger the pup, the shorter the attention span. Puppy training lessons should be short, fun and supplemented with many opportunities for play.
The best way to train a puppy is to conduct lessons when they are well-rested. Make sure they are ready to go but not too excited, as it might be tougher for them to focus. Before you begin, take your pup outside for a potty trip, and make sure to take them out right after you finish as well.
You’ll need a pocket full of high-value puppy treats. Puppy training requires lots of rewards, so opt for something like Wellness Soft Puppy Bites, which are small but also tasty enough to keep your puppy engaged in the training game.
Basic training lessons should take place in a familiar, distraction-free environment. You and your puppy will eventually transition to working outside and in new spaces, but the training initial stages should be happening in a low-key spot so that it’s easy for your pup to focus on you.
It’s also helpful to have a few puppy toys ready to go so you and your puppy can take play breaks. A tug toy, like the Charming Pet Magic Mats Unicorn plush dog toy, or ball for fetching are great options that allow your dog to burn through some puppy excitement before it’s time to focus again.
Puppy Training Tips for Success
Crate Training a Puppy
Teaching your puppy to love their crate is one of the most important early lessons they’ll learn in their new home. Dog crates tap into canine denning instincts, and since dogs rarely soil where they sleep, the crate will help speed the potty training process.
Set up your dog crate properly.
Use puppy treats.
To begin crate training your puppy, introduce the crate by leaving the door open and putting treats inside for your puppy to discover. Let your dog examine the crate without shutting the door and give them a few more treats for remaining inside. Continue this introductory process in a few short sessions until your puppy goes into their crate without hesitating.
Feed meals in the dog crate.
Try interactive dog toys.
Another way to speed the acclimation process is to leave the crate door open and use a sturdy rope that your puppy can’t destroy to tie a puppy-safe interactive toys inside the crate. Giving your pup a treat-stuffed activity toy like the KONG Puppy Toy inside will help your dog learn that good things happen in the crate!
Over time, work up to giving your puppy a busy toy in the crate and shutting the door for 15 minutes. Stay close to where your dog is crated initially, but gradually work up to leaving your dog alone while they’re crated. Gradually add more duration to your dog’s crated periods until they’re happy to hang out inside while you’re not around.
How to Potty Train a Puppy
The first thing most puppy parents want their new pup to learn is where to potty. And while the crate is an invaluable tool for the potty training process, there’s more to it! Helping your dog learn to potty outside requires supervision, good timing and patience.
Maintain a routine.
Supervision is key during potty training.
Understand your puppy’s body language
Use treats and triggers.
Never punish your puppy.
How to Train a Puppy to Sit
Teaching your puppy to sit is a great way to begin formal puppy training because it’s useful in many situations, plus it’s simple to master!
Use treats and repeat often.
To start the process, hold a small treat like Zukes Puppy Naturals right at your puppy’s nose level and slowly move it back between your puppy’s eyes and over your pup’s forehead. As the treat travels up and over, your pup’s heard will rise up to follow it and their rump will go down. The minute their rump hits the ground, mark the action by saying “yup!” or “good!” and then give your puppy the treat. If your puppy opts to jump up rather than sit it’s likely you’re holding the treat too high, so try to keep it anchored to their nose so that it’s easy for them to reach with all four paws planted on the ground.
Repeat this process a few times until your puppy is quickly moving into position.
Remove the reward.
The key to a perfect “sit” is getting your puppy to do it without using a treat to lure them into position. After a few successful repetitions, just stand still and wait for your puppy to offer you a sit. It might take a few seconds, but because your pup has had several successful repetitions of getting rewarded for sitting, it’s likely they’ll move into position without needing a hint from you.
As your pup starts to move into position say “sit” (you’re attaching the word to the behavior), then mark it with a “yup” and give them the treat. It usually takes pups about 15 to 20 repetitions before they associate the word with the behavior, at which point you can begin to ask for the position by saying the word “sit.” Simply say “sit” and give your pup a few seconds to process (try not to repeat the word!), then give them a goody when they do it!
Practice sitting in a variety of environments and with different types of distractions to master the command.