Training Your Puppy – The First Steps
Dog training can be both very enjoyable or very aggravating. What I try to focus on is the enjoyable part of training. If you know the basics and follow them, training your puppy will be an enjoyable experience for you and your puppy.
The first step in training should be to crate train your puppy. I have found that crate training has many benefits. The first benefit is that because of a puppy’s natural instinct not to soil his living area, there shouldn’t be any accidents in their crate. This will help tremendously in housebreaking. Just remember a puppy can only hold his bladder for so long, so don’t keep him in there for more than a few hours at a time unless it is bedtime. It might take a little time for your puppy to get used to his crate.
Let him know it is a nice place to be not a punishment spot. Feed him a few meals in his crate with the door open. After about 1 week close the door while he eats, this should make the crate seem like a reward place for him. After a week with the door closed put his food bowl wherever you planned on feeding him. We have a boxer puppy that we did this with and now any time we grab a treat she runs right to her crate. Just make sure you get the right size crate for your puppy.
The next step should be house training. Always take your puppy out after eating, drinking or sleeping. Praise him and give him a treat when he does go outside. Watch for the signs that he’s getting ready to go. One key sign is when he is sniffing and walking around in circles. This is telling you that he’s trying to find his scent on where to go potty. If you see him doing this just grab him and take him outside to the spot you want him to go. Accidents are bound to happen, have patience but never punish your puppy for going inside. He won’t understand why he’s being punished, he’ll just think going potty is what your punishing him for. Find a cleaner that gets rid of scents, you can find these at most pet supply stores. With patience your puppy will be trained in no time.
To me, crate training and house breaking are the two most important steps in training your puppy. After these you can work on sit, stay, heel and all the other commands. One other important factor in early training is finding a training class. I like a class that has 6-8 dogs in it. I have found that a smaller class has less distractions and because of that it will be easier to train your puppy. See if your trainer offers play groups. This is a great way for your puppy to learn valuable social skills with other dogs. Just remember to have patience but more importantly have fun.