Pets,  Training

Puppy Training 101

There are an infinite number of benefits to training your dog– a stronger bond, a more harmonious living situation, a well behaved companion, just to name a few. The advice in this article will help you train your new puppy using only positive training methods which will set them up for life. Spending time on training your new companion is time well spent that you will benefit both of you in the long run.

The first thing to remember is that your dog looks to you for leadership. Just like a child, you are in charge, and if they are not sure what they should be doing, they are likely to be getting into trouble. Your dog should view you as a strong benevolent dictator, but never fear you.

So how are you to keep tabs on your new BFF 24/7? The good news is you don’t have to. Having a job and being away from home for 8 hours a day, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a pet. So how do you keep them out of trouble when you are away…

Training Essential #1: Crate Training

Crate training is the preferred way to reinforce house training and keep them safe and out of trouble while you are away. Many people think keeping dogs in a crate for hours on end is cruel. However, leaving them free in your home while you are away is not only dangerous for your “stuff” but also for the pup. Other than your personal items there are electrical chords, hazardous chemicals, choking hazards, and an endless supply of carpet threads for them to chew up. Not only is it dangerous for your pet, coming home to a chewed up house isn’t fun for anyone (except for those of us on YouTube laughing at your unfortunate situation).

Ok, you’re convinced that crate training is the way to go. My job is done here and I will hand you over to the experts at the Humane Society of the United States to teach you the how to from choosing a crate all the way to troubleshooting. 

Training Essential #2: House Training

You think this would come before crate training, but actually, crate training is an essential tool for housebreaking. If you didn’t visit the HSUS guide, crate training is essential for your dog to establish a “den”. Their den functions as their very own space, consider it their fort with a sign that says “No Humans Allowed”. They should always have access to their crate and it should never be used as a punishment or “holding cell” when they have an accident. When used properly your pet views their crate as their den, they will not poop or pee in their crate unless they are unable to hold it. Even young puppies understand that eating and pooping happens in two different areas– it is your job to harness this pre-programmed behavior and mold it into what suits your situation.

Pro-tip: Feed your pet in its crate with the door open. This way they associate it with a place where good things happen, but they don’t get locked in every time they go in there.

RULE #1: YOUR PET SHOULD BE ABLE TO HOLD THEIR BLADDER FOR APPROXIMATELY HALF THEIR AGE (UP TO A YEAR OLD).

3 months = 1 1/2 hours
6 months= 3 hours
12 months= 6+ hours

RULE #2: ESTABLISH A SCHEDULE BASED ON ABOVE.

Dogs are like children and prefer schedules. Set a timer on your phone, pick certain times of day, or if there are household habits that you can establish bathroom breaks around that works too. Find what works best for you and be consistent and calm. Remember, if your dog used the bathroom inside your house, ITS YOUR FAULT, not theirs. If they were unattended, they should have been in a crate. If they didn’t go according to their schedule, adjust and take them out more frequently.

Looking at the world through their eyes could give you new and effective ways to train your dog The last thing you want to do is punish your dog for going to the bathroom. If you think about it, as people, if we are punished for something, its because we have done something wrong. . . going to the bathroom isn’t wrong, they just did it in the wrong place. If you punish your pet for an ACCIDENT, they will learn to hide this behavior from you, and you will be playing find that smell most of your Saturday afternoon.

RULE #3: Going outside 

When you let your puppy out of its crate, immediately take it outside. Every. Single. Time. Without fail, regardless of how long it was that you put them in the crate. It’s that simple. This also helps reinforce that the crate is not for elimination. 

RULE #4: PRAISE

My rule of thumb for potty praise is that if your neighbors DON’T think you have taken up recreational drug use, you are doing it wrong. You read that correctly, when your dog goes to the bathroom outside I want you to act like you just won the lottery and life is great and give lots of pets and kisses and just let your new little buddy know that you think going pee outside is the greatest. 

Training Essential #3: Socialize. Socialize. Socialize.

Socialization with both humans and animals of all ages is essential for dogs. This keeps them from developing fearful behaviors (which can present as aggression) later in life. If you have just gotten your puppy at 8 weeks old, they have only had (at best) one round of vaccinations; the world outside is full of parasites and diseases that could land your new pup at the veterinarian quickly (and expensively) if not careful. Limit the activity of pups from 8-11 weeks to your home or the homes of friends with vaccinated animals.

Check out this guide to puppy socialization from the ASPCA for more specific info that will have you fully prepared as a new pet parent.

Training Essential #4: Keep your cool.

This could arguably be #1, so lets go with a “Last, but not least” approach. Like I said previously, if your puppy has done something wrong, ITS YOUR FAULT. You want your dog to trust you and be your partner. Partnerships aren’t built from fear or shame, they are built from mutual respect, understanding, and forgiveness. The next time something goes wrong with your pup, ask what you could have done differently to prevent the situation, clean up the mess quietly and calmly, and make any adjustments to prevent future occurrences of the same situation.

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