Focus on building a strong bond with your puppy, so they learn to love and trust you and are keen to explore the world with you as their guide.
It’s important to ‘socialise’ your puppy as soon as possible. Introduce them to other people and animals and expose them to plenty of the sort of sights and sounds they’ll meet in daily life, while making sure they feel safe and are enjoying the experience (tasty treats can help with this).
Does that sound mean? It shouldn’t. Puppies’ brains are like sponges, genetically primed to be constantly learning, and they will enjoy working for their food.
A growing puppy needs a number of meals a day and putting all that food in a bowl, often to be vacuumed down in a few seconds, is a waste of all those potential rewards for training and mentally stimulating your puppy.
Instead, try handfeeding some or all of their meals. Your puppy will earn their food as rewards during short, simple training sessions. Although you might feel a bit irritated if you were asked to stand up, turn round or shake hands before each mouthful of lunch, your puppy will soon enjoy ‘working’ with you. Keep it simple and reward often as you don’t want to frustrate a hungry pup! And, you’ll be teaching your puppy it’s good to focus on you, to be calm around food and to take it gently (no teeth).
If you’re busy, you can keep your puppy happily engaged by putting their food in a fillable chew toy such as a Kong or, if it’s a dry food, scattering some on the floor or in the garden so they spend some time sniffing for their supper.
So, ban the bowl (at least for now) and have your pup’s natural drive to work for food work for you!
House training your puppy is a simple process although it can be time-consuming at the start! Your aim is to have your puppy in the right place at the time they need to pee or poo (whether that’s outside or on pads inside). As soon as they’ve finished, praise and reward with a treat. Get it right and they’ll soon learn to toilet where you want them to.
But to be successful, there are a few things to consider.
Puppies tend to toilet not long after they’ve eaten, when they wake up (and they should be napping a lot), when they’ve been playing and, if none of those events have occurred, during the day, quite possibly every hour.
Puppies won’t develop full bladder control until they’re about six months old, and they have no idea there’s a ‘right’ place to toilet until you teach them. So, if your puppy does toilet in the wrong place, don’t tell them off. If you sound cross or punish them, the only thing they’re likely to learn is not to go in front of you leading to ‘accidents’ behind furniture or when you’re out of the room – and house training will take a lot longer.
Ideally, monitor your puppy throughout the day, looking out for any indication that they may be about to toilet so you can encourage them to the right spot. But you can make the whole process a lot easier for yourself by managing your puppy’s environment with the use of crates, pens, baby gates or leads.
Dogs are social animals who, given the opportunity, would choose the company of humans or other dogs.
But, in the future, it’s highly likely there will be times your dog will have to stay home alone. The best time to begin building your puppy’s confidence in being alone for short periods is when they’re young. You can then very, very gradually extend the length of time they learn to be comfortable by themselves.
At the start, this may just be popping your puppy somewhere safe, such as a pen or crate, at times during the day when they’re tired, giving them something safe and good to chew and hanging out not too far away.
And you don’t have to let your puppy follow you for short visits to the bathroom! Instead, chuck some treats on the ground for your puppy to forage while you shut that door behind you.
Puppies’ baby teeth can be very sharp. Biting everything, including you, is very normal puppy behaviour. That’s how they investigate the world.
Bearing in mind it’s much easier to create a good habit than it is to get rid of a bad one, simply don’t give your puppy the opportunity to discover the delights of chewing your furniture, your shoes or other forbidden items. Instead, make sure they always have a range of suitable items to chew. And, to save yourself the impossible task of constantly monitoring, make sure they’re playing somewhere they can’t hurt themselves or cause any damage.
Most of all, have fun with that gorgeous puppy of yours!
For more training advice, please visit our dog coach Vicky Carne's website.