Training & Behavior
Establishing a routine right away with your new puppy is the key to successful house training. This section includes information on typical puppy behaviors and how to teach them using positive reinforcement. You are learning and so is your new friend. Patience and understanding is key!
- Choose a spot outside where you want your puppy to relieve themselves
- Every time your puppy has relieved themselves in the spot that you have chosen, give them praise or a TLC Health Biscuit
- Take your puppy outside after every meal, first thing in the morning, after naps, before bed at night and anytime after playing
- Do not expect your puppy to go all day or night without having to go outside
- For safety reasons, watch your puppy closely when they are outside
- Do not distract your puppy while they are doing their business
- If your puppy has an accident, do not yell at them. Unless caught in the act, your puppy will be unsure of why they are being punished
- Feed your puppy at consistent times
Tips and Tricks for House Training Success
Keep a diary of when your puppy relieves themselves - this will help you keep track of any patterns your puppy may have with their elimination schedule. After 16 weeks of age, you should start to notice that the intervals at which they relieve themselves will start to spread out, as well as any accidents in the house reduced. Keeping track of when your puppy relieves themselves will also be helpful to your veterinarian should you feel the need to consult them on house training.
Take your puppy out frequently. As a guideline, your puppy will need to relieve themselves roughly every 2 hours. It is important to take your puppy out after every nap, meal and play session, as all of these activities will trigger the need to eliminate. Again, do not disturb them during this process.
If your puppy does have an accident in the house, make sure it is cleaned well so no trace of urine or feces remains. Not only is this for sanitary purposes, this will help prevent your puppy from being naturally drawn to the same area to relieve themselves.
Puppies avoid going to the bathroom where they rest. If you are unable to keep a close eye on them as they roam the house, keeping them in their confined area will keep them from having an accident. This will also prevent them from exploring areas of the house you may not have prepared for them, and potentially eating something within reach that could be harmful. Make sure the crate you buy for your puppy gives them enough room to lie down, stand up, and turn all the way around, as this will make them feel safe and secure.
Training your puppy with consistency is crucial. Teaching good behavior from the beginning is important if you want a well behaved dog in the future. Start early!
Your dog’s ancestry traces back to a wolf. Naturally, dogs have a pack mentality. You must establish yourself as the leader of your puppy’s pack in order to command their respect and obedience both now and into adulthood.
Here are a few simple rules to help you with training:
- Be firm with your puppy and establish who is in charge with a controlled voice
- Be consistent and be sure to follow through with every newly learned behavior
- Never physically reprimand your puppy for disobeying
- Always use positive reinforcement! Love and affection mixed with the occasional small treat will let them know that you’re happy with their behavior
Socializing your puppy, at their own pace, from the beginning (after they have had their vaccinations) is very important for the development of their behavior. Try to expose your puppy to positive experiences with a wide variety of people, dogs, other animals, travel, sounds and various places as this will shape their behavior later on in life.
Socializing with Young Children and Other Dogs
Socializing a puppy with infants, toddlers and preschoolers follow the same rules as socializing a puppy with adults - if the puppy does not want to socialize, do not force them to. This is often not the case, but you must advocate for your puppy with whatever they feel comfortable with.
Mixing a puppy or even a full grown dog with a newborn baby can be a handful. The biggest issue most puppy parents run into when mixing puppies and babies together concerns the baby’s crying, and the dog’s barking. The baby starts crying, so the dog starts barking, and vice versa. This is because dogs feed off of the energy that’s in their environment, and a crying baby will make the dog think something is wrong. This can happen in the middle of the night, and it can cause quite a headache for you, and your neighbors. One of the best things to do to prepare your dog for a newborn’s arrival is to get them used to the added noise. This can be done by playing the sounds of a baby crying at a tolerable noise level over computer speakers for long periods of time when you are sure your dog will listen to it or notice it.
Another issue that arises having a newborn baby and a dog in the same house, is that the dog or puppy receives less attention than before the baby arrived. You still must make time for playtime and walking, as your puppy relies on you, and only you for it’s exercise and attention fulfillment. It is also important to let your puppy know that especially now, the newborn baby ranks higher on the totem pole. With walking for instance, always make sure whoever is holding or pushing the baby in a stroller leaves the house first, ahead of the puppy. This helps establish that the newborn is the pack leader and subconsciously lets the dog know that the baby takes precedence.
The best way to introduce your new puppy to older children is to get them to stand a few feet away for the first time. This way, if the puppy wants to say hello, he or she can without having his or her personal space invaded, which could make your puppy nervous or over excited. If in a large public area (a park for example) with unfamiliar children, it is always a good idea to ask the child’s parent(s) if it is ok for their child to greet your puppy. The parents know what their child’s behavior is like, and will be able to judge how the situation will go on the child’s behalf. If that child has been given the OK, give them a few treats that they can give to your puppy. This will teach your puppy that kids are a good thing, and if they behave, they will get a treat. It is recommended to put the treat on the ground opposed to hand feeding, as this will discourage your puppy from getting used to taking food out of people’s hands, especially a stranger’s. As far as petting is concerned, make sure the child is instructed on what to do. Many kids (especially the very young ones) will like to pull on the ears, tap on the head, etc. and may not be giving your puppy what he’s used to. Once the child is done playing with your puppy, it is best to give your puppy a break. You do not want to overwhelm your puppy with too much too fast, as this could give them a negative first impression of children.
Training through Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement training methods are one of the most rewarding methods of training, for both you and your puppy. Your puppy will do what you ask of them, and in exchange you get to reward them with their favorite treat, affection, or game which will always make them happy - a true win-win situation!
TLC’s Whole Life Health Biscuits are ideal for training purposes, due to their ability to break into smaller pieces. When you are training your puppy with a positive reinforcement method, you are rewarding your puppy with what they like almost as much as your affection - treats!
Positive reinforcement can be used to complete many different types of training tasks. Teaching your dog how to sit, lie down, shake a paw and many more useful commands can all be taught using positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement training can also prevent bad behavior such as jumping on people, running out the front door whenever it’s opened (also known as door-darting) and begging for food.
The more simple commands such as “sit”, “come”, “stay”, “heel” etc. are all relatively straight forward to teach, however they all require persistence and consistency. Make sure if multiple people are training your puppy, they are all using the same words to get an action out of your puppy. For example, if one person is trying to get your puppy to stay in the same sitting position, one person using the word “stay” and one person saying “woah”, will conflict with each other and will confuse the puppy. Persistence and patience are two virtues that will help you in the training process, so don’t give up! Some breeds are by nature harder to train than others.
Timing is also very important with positive reinforcement training. For example, when trying to teach your puppy to sit, reward them with a treat or affection immediately upon sitting (within a few seconds), not when they stand up, as they will think that the motion of standing is what you want. Using a clicker in conjunction with giving your puppy a treat can also help. Use the clicker to signal or mark the good behavior and use it every time they do what you wish. The goal of using the clicker is to get them to associate the sound of the clicker with both good behavior.
Positive reinforcement training can also be used as a tiered training method for teaching more difficult tasks. For example, the act of “shaking a paw” requires more than one step. The dog must lift their leg, hold it out, wait for you to grab his paw, then put his leg back down to the ground once the shake is done. If your dog is not able to get the trick in one motion, try rewarding your puppy at each step, by giving them a small piece of the treat, until they put it all together. Use this tiered method for other methods like “roll over” and other tricks and commands that require more than one step.
Teaching your Puppy Tricks
How to Bow
The “Bow” is exactly what it sounds like - the dog puts their elbows and head to the ground, while keeping their hind legs and rear in the air, then popping back up to the standing position.
How to Wave
Here is a very impressive, but relatively easy trick you can teach your dog - how to wave hello and goodbye! All you need is some TLC health biscuits and a clicker if your dog has been trained with clickers in the past.
How to Speak/ Be quiet
Teaching your dog to speak and quiet down is both fun and useful. Here’s how to do it: