You’ve picked your furry friend, brought them home, and created them a new Instagram…so, now what? Puppies don’t come with an owner’s manual, but we’ll break down some helpful training tips and house rules you can establish with your pup to start them off on the right paw.
The more you practice, reinforce appropriate behavior, and keep inappropriate behavior in check, the more reliable and consistent your puppy will become. Remember, puppydom isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it! Just look at that cute wittle face.
Teaching your puppy self-control helps them learn to make choices that earn the right reward. Try this challenge with your pup:
Leash your puppy and have them lie down, then move different objects around them.
If your puppy remains lying down while you move an object around, praise them and give them a treat.
Next, let your puppy get up and praise them again.
Tell your puppy to lie down again for the next exercise. Now, bounce a ball. Does your puppy stay lying down or try to grab the ball? You should praise your pup the moment they resist grabbing the ball.
Let your puppy get up and, yep, praise them again!
INTRODUCE THE CRATE
When it comes to potty training, the crate is great. Much like you, Fido doesn’t want a urine-soaked rug in their living room. Make the crate extra cozy by placing a soft towel or blanket on the bottom, eventually adding a food and water bowl once your pup is comfortable in the crate. As far as the crate itself, it should be just large enough for your dog to lie down, stand up and turn around because if it’s too big, then your pup will leave a little, ahem, package in the corner. When your pup starts whining at the crate door, let them out right away so they don’t have an accident in the crate.
SCHEDULE POTTY BREAKS
To keep the accidents to a minimum, take your puppy outside at least every two to four hours and after an activity such as after eating or playing indoors. There should be a potty break “last call” right before you go to bed. A good rule of thumb is to take the age of your puppy in months and add one to determine the maximum number of hours they should be able to comfortably go without potty breaks, though there is no exact puppy science. This means if your pup is three months, they’ll be able to hold it for four hours. If you want your pup to sleep eight hours, you can expect to take them out once during the night.
PUPPY-PROOF YOUR HOME
Rid your house of all things that could cause danger to your new pup. This includes keeping exposed electrical cords out of sight behind heavy furniture or buying cord protectors, securing medications and putting away any small items that could be a choking hazard. This last one’s for you, plant mom and dads: Some common houseplants like ZZ plants and snake plants can potentially be toxic to your new furry friend, so make sure they are out of reach.
PUPPY-PROOF YOUR YARD
Tip #1: Fence your yard to protect your puppy from escaping. Tip #2: Contain your pup’s, well, #2! To accomplish this, set aside a potty area by continually taking your pup to that designated spot during potty breaks and keeping them on a leash in that area until the deed is done–making sure to praise them afterwards and, of course, cleaning it up right away.
ESTABLISH A MEALTIME ROUTINE
With puppies, structure is key. Most puppies need to eat three times a day, unlike mature dogs that eat maybe once or twice. It’s easy to plan your pup’s feeding schedule around your own. When you eat breakfast, serve them breakfast. When you sit down for lunch, it’s time for their lunch. You get it.
PLAN PLAY DATES
Introduce your puppy to other dogs early and often! The perfect time to have your puppy meet other dogs is when they’re about two to four months old because this is when most dogs learn to accept other animals, people and new experiences. Just be sure to skip the dog park until all your puppy’s shots are done.
CURB THE CHEWING
Nothing is certain but death, taxes….and puppy chewing. You can save your favorite pair of shoes from ultimate destruction with this exercise:
When you’re with your puppy, set their current “flavor of the week” in front of them.
This could be that pair of sneakers or another everyday item they love to sink their little teeth into.
Have safe chew toys nearby so your puppy has the opportunity to chew those instead of the shoes in front of them.
As soon as your puppy goes to chew on the sneakers, give a verbal correction (“don’t”) and a quick correction to interrupt the behavior.
Then, redirect them and offer them one of the nearby chew toys.
LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE
When your puppy isn’t playing catch, they’re probably catching some Zzz’s. Some pups will even sleep as much as 16 to 18 hours a day! Don’t disturb your puppy when they’re asleep because puppies, just like us, need time to recharge and rest. Consider putting your puppy’s crate in a quiet part of the house.
RELISH THE PUPPY TIME
OK, so maybe this one isn’t necessarily a training tip, but these early days go by really fast! Consider this your friendly reminder to make sure you are taking time to appreciate ALL. THE. ZOOMIES. Before you know it, your little furry friend will be a full-fledged doggo that can squirrel chase with the best of ‘em.