How to train a puppy? Puppy training guide!

Many new puppy owners wonder “Should I train my puppy immediately? And if so, how to train a puppy?”. The fact is that training a puppy is a very important thing. Each new pup owner should be aware, that you can’t just leave your cute, tiny fluffball to do whatever it wants.

Puppy training is a must if you want your dog to behave well and become a trustworthy member of your family. Puppy training is often neglected by many people and this is one of the biggest mistakes which you should avoid. The earlier you start training with your pup, the better the results will be. It’s extremely important to start off on the right foot (and paw) with your pup! 

Puppy training means not only teaching the dog basic commands like „sit”, „wait” or „bring” but it will also make your dog feel more secure and well prepared for many everyday life situations. In this article, we gathered the most specific information about puppy training from top dog training specialists. And trust us, they know a lot about how to train a puppy! Learn how to train your puppy, where to start, and how puppy training should be performed. Find out what are the most effective methods for puppy training and how to help your dog be successful. 

In this article, you will learn the top 5 commands to teach your puppy, how to potty train a puppy, how to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash, and when to start socializing your puppy. All the information will help you raise a dog aware of its rights and obligations. Find out that training a puppy is not so complicated, but requires dedication and patience. How well mannered and obedient your dog will be in the future depends on the amount of time you spend working with your dog. Find out more! 

Puppy training – the very basics

Positive reinforcement 

The most important thing in puppy training is positive reinforcement. Because of positive reinforcement your dog is most likely to do what you expect from it, contrary to using punishment such as yelling or leach correcting. Positive reinforcement is a very effective process, where you reward your dog with a snack, a word or a firm pat to encourage the wanted behavior. Of course, it takes time to teach your dog what is good and what is wrong, which type of behavior is wanted and which is unacceptable. However, with positive reinforcement and patience, you may achieve great results. 

The most valuable reinforcement for your pooch will be most likely the food. And we’re not talking about any food. Make sure you have something that your dog loves, something really special, a high-value treat. It could be pieces of boiled chicken, pieces of vegetables, peanut butter, or nice dog training treats. A great idea for positive reinforcement is also word commands said in a happy voice such as: „good dog”, „good boy” or „good girl”. [1]

When to begin and how often to train 

Even the tiniest puppies, who are 7 or 8 weeks old can begin very simple training. Usually, proper puppy training which includes potty training, teaching basic commands, and socialization start when your little furry friend comes home with you. The earlier you begin training with your pup, the better the results will be. 

Keep in mind, that the training sessions should be quite short. Your newborn puppy can only concentrate for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Always reward the positive behavior and stop training when you realize that your puppy gets bored or frustrated. A deconcentrated, tired puppy won’t learn anything no matter how many treats you give them. 

Top 5 commands to teach your pup 

Sit 

Teaching your dog to sit is one of the most popular commands to teach your pup but also one of the easiest ones, so it’s a good starting point. A puppy who knows the „sit” command will be calmer and easier to control in most everyday situations at home or during the walk. So, how to teach your dog the „sit” command? 

  1. Hold a high-value treat close to your dog’s nose. 
  2. Move your hand up and allow the pup to follow the treat with its head. This should cause its bottom to go lower and eventually touch the ground. 
  3. Once your pup is in a sitting position say „sit” and give it a treat. You may also reward your dog with verbal reinforcement such as „good dog”. 
  4. Repeat the sequence few more times until your dog sits smoothly each time you lure it with a treat. 

Down

This is another useful command which will help your pup behave well and calm down in everyday life situations. However, this one is a bit more difficult and requires your dog to be relaxed and focused. Here are the steps.

  1. Get a high-value treat and hold it in front of your dog in a closed fist.
  2. Hold your fist close to your dog’s face. When he sniffs it and shows his interest, move your hand down to the floor level, so the dog’s head follows. 
  3. Slide your hand along the ground to encourage its body to follow the head and go down. 
  4. Once your dog’s whole body lays flat on the ground say „down”, open your fist and give your dog the treat.
  5. Repeat the sequence few more times until your dog lays down smoothly each time you lure it with a treat. 

Stay

This command is quite similar to the “sit” command and Is helpful when you don’t want your pooch to follow you everywhere. Before teaching your dog to stay, make sure he mastered the „sit” command. 

  1. Ask your pup to sit. 
  2. Open your hand in front of your dog and say „stay”.
  3. Take a few steps back still holding open hand. Reward your dog with a treat if it stays in a sitting position.
  4. Increase the number of steps you take back before giving the dog a treat. 
  5. Even if your dog stays in place for a few seconds, reward them generously.

Leave it

This command is extremely useful while walking outside with your pup. It keeps your dog safe where his curiosity takes over the reason. The goal with the „leave it” command is to teach your dog to leave something really interesting, because it may get something even better for ignoring that other item. Here are the steps. 

  1. Place a high-value treat In both your hands. 
  2. Show your dog one closed fist with a treat inside and say „leave it”.
  3. Let it sniff, lick and bark to get the treat but don’t give it to them.
  4. Once your pup stops fighting for the treat, give it a treat from the other hand and say „good dog”.
  5. Repeat as long as your dog instantly moves away when you say „leave it”

Come

This command is the opposite of the „stay” command and comes in handy when your dog accidentally storms out through an open door or when you lose grip on the leash. This command is quite easy to teach and can save your dog’s life in certain situations

  1. Put a leash and collar on your dog.
  2. Lower to your dog’s level and say „come” while gently pulling on the leash.
  3. Hold a high-value treat in your hand close to yourself.
  4. When your dog gets to your reward it with a treat. [2]

Potty training a puppy 

The duration of potty training is different for each pup. The success depends both on your patience and dedication and on your dog’s willingness and temper. 

To let your dog be successful during potty training, you should follow these few basic tips.

  • Control your dog’s diet and keep a fixed feeding schedule.
  • Make frequent walks outside. If your dog is 2 months old you should take it outside every two hours, if it’s 3 months old – every three hours, if it’s 4 months old – every four hours etc. 
  • Provide your pup regular mental and physical exercise, and take it outside every time after a nap, after exercise, after a meal, and when you see that it’s overly excited. 
  • Try not to use puppy pads and instead observe your pup and try to look out for the signals, that it needs to relieve itself. 
  • Once you start noticing those characteristic signals your dog makes when it needs to pee, quickly take your pup outside and let it relieve itself there. 
  • Reword with a high-value treat each time your dog successfully pees outside. [3]

Loose-leach walking training  

Loose leash walking makes the whole walking experience pleasant to you and your pooch. The goal here is to stop your over-excited puppy from pulling the leash and choking himself with the collar. Remember that during the walk you are the leader of the pack and it’s up to you where both of you go. Try to be positive but also confident. Follow these steps.

  1. Make sure your dog is comfortable wearing a leash and a collar. 
  2. Stand next to your pup with a loose leash in hand and give it few treats for just standing or sitting in a relaxed position. 
  3. Take one step forward and encourage your pet to follow by giving another treat close to your leg. 
  4. Continue moving forward with a loose leash and a dog close to your knees. Give more treats. 
  5. When a dog starts running in front of you, stop immediately and call it to you. Reward when the dog comes back to you.  
  6. Repeat the walking sequence few more times and keep your dog close to your knee by giving it more treats.
  7. Give treats only when the dog stays close to you. 

We hope, that after reading all the advice gathered in this extremely informative article, you will have a better understanding of how to train your puppy. We provided you with many ready-to-use learning schemes and training scenarios. Puppy training is really important to your dogs’ future development and correct functioning in adulthood. The more you teach puppies when they are young, the less you will later be stressed out by unwanted behavioral problems. If you spend enough time and patience on puppy training at home, it will be as effective as sending your dog to an organized class at a canine behaviorist.

Now you know how to teach your dog commands such as: sit, down, stay, leave it or come. You know how to make your pup stop treating carpets in your house like a toilet and how to take your dog for walks to make it an enjoyable experience for both you and your pooch. Of course, each doggy is different and has its own, characteristic personality traits, but with proper training, you may achieve many significant training goals. You can begin training with your puppy right away and start observing the fast progress it makes. [4]

Cynthia L. Collins

Cynthia L. Collins

Devoted dog lover, a dog mom to her two rescued Shih Tzus Romeo and Elvis, and an Australian Shepherd, Bandit. When she isn’t working, she volunteers in a local shelter and various animal welfare organizations.

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