At long last, you have your litter of puppies! When they first start life they wiggle and bumble and don’t do much but suckle. Quickly they become bouncy little trouble makers. We tell people to bring their puppies in for their puppy boosters at 8 weeks old. As important as getting them off on the right paw for veterinary health is, what about all the other things with owning a puppy, like training. When do you start training?
The short answer is, immediately. But you do need to be reasonable in your expectations of what your puppy will be able to do. Puppy training is more than teaching good behavior and ensuring they don’t pee on the floor. Puppy training is also establishing you as their pack leader. This is a really important part of your puppy’s mental health. Dogs are pack animals. In their pack, they have a leader and that leader is what keeps the pack feeling safe. Even if your puppy is the only dog in your pack, to your puppy you are the leader, and the better pack leader you are the safer and happier your puppy will be.
Taking control as the pack leader as soon as possible is important. When puppies sense that we are a weak leader they will do things to “take control” such as chewing the leash, leash pulling, excessive barking, and anxiety. Being a leader is an all the time thing. It is not only when the dog is misbehaving or when people are around that you need to be a pack leader. You always need to be one, from day one.
You can start puppies with housebreaking training starting as early as two months old. Most of the time they will learn it pretty quickly. They watch their moms do it, and it’s pretty natural for them. In the early days give your puppy a place inside to go potty. Puppy pads work very well for indoor bathroom use. Keep it in the same place so she gets used to going to the same place. Once she is ready to start going outside, move the pad outside. Every morning take her to where the pad is, make sure it is always in the same place, so she gets used to going to the restroom on it. Then after a few days, remove the pad but keep taking her first thing in the morning to the same place to go to the restroom. Once she has gone outside, give her some good pats or a treat to let her know that she did what she is supposed to do.
Make sure to take your puppy out every few hours to go to the restroom. The more frequently you take her out the less likely she is to have an accident. She will get used to the idea of her potty breaks being outside. If she has an accident, do not get mad or punish her. Take her to where she should be going and then clean up the accident. Make sure you use something like Nature’s Miracle to clean up so there is no smell left behind. If she can smell it she will have a higher likelihood of going back to that spot indoors.
Walking Your Puppy
You always see dogs walking in front of their owners but when you are training you should be the one to go first. Whomever walks first is the leader. When you take your puppy out, you should be the first one out of the door and the first one in, Your puppy should walk behind or beside you but never in front. This remains true when they are full grown dos as well.
The most important thing is consistency. If you are working on getting your dog to sit, you need to do it every time. You need to take her out in the morning every morning, It is not ok to say, “:just this one time she can go on the pad inside”. Part of being a leader is being consistent. The more consistent you are the safer your puppy will feel and ultimately the better behaved and happier she will be.