How do I train a puppy? 10 tips from professional trainers

5 puppy training mistakes

So you’ve added a new addition to your family and finally have your puppy home!

This can only mean one thing - training needs to begin immediately, but how do you start?
Whether you train your dog yourself, join a training class or go to private trainer, some basic training tips should be considered.  

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Computerquote Pet Insurance has compiled the top ten tips from professional dog trainers, so if you’ve got puppy love, read on to get life with your new best friend off to the right start…

  1. Decide on house rules
    Before your new addition comes home, decide what he/she can and can't do. Are they to be allowed on the bed or the furniture? Will parts of the house off limits? Getting your house rules in place at the outset will help your dog adapt to its new home.
     
  2. Create a haven
    Set up a private space for your dog to make their own. It’s good for your puppy to have their own space they can go to and feel relaxed in. This could be a crate (see crate training advice) or a private spot in the house.  He/she will benefit from short periods left alone in the comfort and safety of their private space. Always reward your puppy if they remain relaxed and quiet.
     
  3. Relax your puppy
    When you bring your puppy home, give them a warm hot water bottle and put a ticking clock near their sleeping area. This imitates the heat and heartbeat of litter mates and will soothe them in the new home. Lots of attention and time is needed so clear your diary to make your new family member feel at home. Dogs are extremely adaptable and they will soon feel right at home and fit in with the family. 
     
  4. Teach basic commands
    Teach your pet to come when called. Teaching them to come to you is the command to be mastered at the beginning of their training.  Make sure you always use a positive sounding voice and soon enough they’ll happily run to you. This is when your alpha status will be reinforced.
     
  5. Get down to eye level
    Crouch down to their level when calling your puppy’s name, as towering over them can make it feel to them like they’re looking up at a skyscraper which can be quite intimidating. 
    Meeting them at eye level is the friendlier way to get results from your dog without scaring them.
     
  6. Use rewards
    When they start responding to your calls, Reward your puppy’s good behaviour with positive reinforcement. You can do this by using toys, treats, praise and hugs. They will soon start to realise that they’re doing something right.
     
  7. Deal with biting and nipping
    Puppies tend to nip quite often due to teething and not knowing where the line is drawn for playtime. You just need to discourage them from this behaviour. Instead of scolding, a great way to put a stop to it is to pretend that you're in pain when the dog bites or nips you. They will more than likely stop quickly as it will shock them. If this doesn't work, try giving them a chew toy. If none of these work then just ignore the behaviour all together.
     
  8. Think in “dog time”
    Teach your pet in their time. Dogs live in the moment and forget two minutes after they've done something. When your pet is doing something bad, apply your chosen technique straight away so they have a chance to make the association between the behavior and the correction. Consistent repetition will reinforce what you’re teaching.
     
  9. Keep a positive attitude
    Always end your training sessions on a positive note by praising them, offering a treat, some petting or five minutes of play.
     
  10. Be consistent
    Being consistent with your rules, rewards and punishments will help your dog understand their boundaries. Fairness and consistency over time will pay off with a lifelong friendship.
     

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Published: 17th September 2018 (VW)