How to navigate puppy training: teaching your puppy good habits from the start!

important puppy behaviour training habits

The most important behaviour training, commands and habits to teach new puppies 

Making the decision to bring a new puppy into your home is an exciting time! Puppies are warm, cuddly and undoubtedly cute! However, the cute factor can quickly wear off when troublesome behaviour creeps in as they grow older. The truth is that canine behavioural issues are often avoidable with correct training from a young age! Many fur parents are way too lenient with puppies, only to later wish they had instilled good behaviour earlier on.

It's too easy to coo at the sight of your young fur baby chewing at your shoes. Aaw, he's teething! And doesn't it only seem natural to find it hilarious when your little pup jumps up all over everybody and gives them a million slobbery kisses?! He sure loves (and deserves) the attention, right? Yip, it's adorable - for now...

Bad-mannered puppies are cute, but bad-mannered fully grown dogs make for a lot of hard work! Puppies who are not taught a set of manners and how to follow rules from an early age will carry this bad behaviour into their adulthood. Undoing bad manners is much more of a challenge than teaching them good manners and habits, right from the beginning!

Many of people put off training their puppy for a variety of reasons. Some people believe that they don't have enough time on their hands. Others procrastinate, with the intention to eventually start training and teaching their puppy manners. Some people simply just do not know enough about canine behaviour and are completely unaware that puppy training is critical in creating a happy home with their pet. We urge anybody who is serious about taking on the responsibility of a puppy to do as much research about raising a healthy, happy and well-mannered pet.

Yes, puppy training can seem daunting, especially if you've never done it before. There's so much for a new puppy to learn! We've created a list to help you navigate puppy training so that your new pet may become a happy and functioning member of your family. While there are many things for puppies to learn, we'll highlight some of the most important ones below!

Important habits to teach your puppy

House training (i.e. where to 'potty') 

House training is one of the first things you'll work on with your new puppy. It's no fun having to always clean up after them every time they have an accident, especially if you have carpets! For this reason, we're going to bump this up to training priority number one! Get your puppy off to a good start by putting him on a regular daily schedule. Feed him at similar times each day, and take him outside every time he eats, drinks or wakes from a nap!

Your puppy is almost guaranteed to have accidents! Of course, they're still learning. The method of punishment (such as shouting or rubbing their nose in the mess) is outdated and cruel. Punishment does not usually have the desired effect and will rather scare or confuse him! A better method is to reward him with praise, organic treats, cuddles and playtime when he 'goes' in the right spot. It may take some time for your puppy to get it right, so just have a little bit of patience with your new furry friend. Remember, this phase won't last forever!

Basic commands

When a pet knows certain cues and instructions, it makes living together more pleasant for everyone! Teaching your puppy to understand basic commands such as 'sit', 'lie down' and 'come' will go a long way in helping your puppy grow into a well-behaved adult dog!

The easiest way to teach your new puppy to 'come' or respond to their name, is to call them over (e.g. "Duke, come!") right before you feed them or give them an organic treat. With repetition, he'll start to realise that hearing his name means you're calling him for some reason. A dog who responds to their name being called is a pleasure! There's nothing worse than a dog who totally ignores your commands. Other basic commands such as 'lie down' and 'sit' can be done in the same way as above. Remember; practice, praise and reward!  

Leave it!

Another important basic command, which deserves a heading of its own, is 'leave it!'. Dogs are naturally curious and adventurous creatures, which means that they're bound to at some point or another pick up something harmful or inappropriate in their mouths. Additionally, puppies go through a teething phase (just like humans) and are compelled to chew on many things that you may not want them to.

To convince your puppy to give up something he finds that's toxic or potentially dangerous, teach him that the 'leave it' command is always followed by a tastier reward! On the other hand, puppies are compelled to chew things as it helps to alleviate their teething pain. If your puppy starts chewing on the carpets, shoes, couches or anything else that they shouldn't be chewing on, it's important to tell them to 'leave it', followed by giving them something that they can chew on, such as a durable chew toy. Puppies are going to chew whether you like it or not (it's actually beneficial for them), but it's important to teach them what they are and are not allowed to chew!

Social skills

Socialisation is all about getting your puppy out and about to experience new people, places, and situations. Puppies that are encouraged to be socially adept become pleasurable, friendly and well-adjusted adult dogs! Puppies who lack socialisation often develop anti-social behaviour such as aggression, excessive barking and anxiety.

It's important to allow your puppy to become familiar with a variety of scents, people, noises, settings and environments so that they won't react negatively when they are older. It's not uncommon to see aggression and fighting among dogs who are not used to other dogs or people.

Note: Aggression, fear and anxiety can also develop from various other causes, e.g. past trauma, neglect, personality, fireworks and stress. Feelgood Pets' Aggression Formula is a homeopathic remedy for pets who suffer from aggression and anti-social behaviour.  

    Walking skills

    When taking any dog for a walk, it's important to establish that you're in control, not the other way around! Dogs who have not been trained to go for walks in a well-mannered way are likely to pull, run wild and completely throw you off balance! This is neither safe, nor in compliance with the animal behavourists recommendation that YOU need to be the alpha (i.e. The Boss!). With no hierarchical structure, puppies and dogs will dominate during walks, making it unpleasant for all parties involved.

    Once again, the earlier you start training your puppy, the better! With the puppy on a short leash, walk quickly while talking to him as you go along. Stop, give him an organic treat, and go. Make every walk a training session until your puppy consistently keeps pace with you.

    It's also important to remember that the pressure from pulling and tugging on leashes can lead to injury in the dog! This is why it's so important to establish that you're in control, and that pulling is not acceptable! The problem lies not in the leash itself, but rather the collar that's attached to the leash. When the dog handler yanks the leash to stop them from running away or to pull them away from other dogs, the force that's put on the collar can lead to serious injury such as whiplash, thyroid damage or eye damage.

    READThe dangers of pet collars and how to choose one that's safe! >>

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    Puppy training tips

    To make the most out of your puppy training and ensure good habits, there are 3 important points to remember:

    1. Practice: As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. It's unlikely that your puppy will catch on immediately, but with perseverance and consistency, you're likely to see results soon!  
    2. Praise: Just like humans, animals love to be adored and fussed over. When your puppy behaves in the correct way, let them know that they're a 'good boy' (or girl)!
    3. Reward: Positive reinforcement is one of the best methods for successful puppy training! Accompany your praise with an organic treat!

    If you have any questions related to your pet, please contact our team or leave a comment below for FREE health advice. We always love hearing from you!

    Saskia Michele natural holistic pet health blog

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