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Best puppy training tips

Two puppy Jack Russell advice
© Unsplash

We all know how cute puppies are, but there can also be a real handful. So if you're thinking about getting one, or have one already, here’s a few puppy training tips

By Ashley Murphy

Much like newborn babies and infants, puppies learn very quickly, and the first few weeks are crucial to their long-term development. To put it simply, if you get right in the beginning you’re putting your puppy on the road to becoming a healthy and well-adjusted dog. Get it wrong and your puppy will develop ingrained emotional and behavioural problems which are much harder to treat. Think about your puppy as a blank state and training as the perfect opportunity to encourage the right kinds of behaviour.

Training tip #1: Establish a routine early on - and then stick to it!

Getting a puppy is emotional and exciting. Everyone wants to play with it; everyone wants to feed it; everyone wants the puppy sleeping next to them. As tempting as this is, puppies can be overwhelmed by all this new attention and so it’s important to establish routines and boundaries: keep to agreed feeding-times and decide who is responsible for each part of the puppies training and care. Set-up a little area where they can sleep and put them down in the same place each night. It might seem like simple stuff, but your puppy is learning its place in a new household and a sense of routine helps them to feel safe and secure.

Training tip #2: Toilet training for puppies

Because their digestive systems are still developing, puppies poop a lot. They also need to urinate every hour or two and especially just after they've woken up. However, with the right training and a little patience, toilet training is pretty straightforward. In the very early stage, The Kennel Club advises keeping a diary of when your puppy eats, sleep, urinates and defecates. Once you’ve established how their systems are working, take them out to the garden when you know they’re most likely to start weeing or pooping. Make sure you go with them and repeat the same phrases whenever they’re doing their business. Simple things like ‘wee wee’ or ‘poo poo’ are enough and always reward their behaviour with treats and affection. Things you shouldn't do include over-feeding, irregular meal times, and leaving them alone for long periods of time.

Training tip #3: Puppy separation anxiety - stay strong!

Separation anxiety is common, and it’s probably one of the hardest problems to deal with. Anyone who has ever heard a puppy crying or whining will know that your first instinct is to comfort them. However, puppies need to become comfortable with being alone and giving them too much attention can have a negative effect. Puppies are smart and they’ll soon learn the power of emotional blackmail - so stay strong!. Toys and other puppy friends will help alleviate their anxiety, and it’s also good to schedule playtimes just before you go to bed. This will give them the attention they need, as well as tiring them out. Remember, a tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy! And practice leaving and coming back. You can start with as little as 5 minutes and gradually increase the time as your puppy becomes accustomed to being alone.

Training tip #4: Obedience training

Obedience training is one of the best things you can do for you and your puppy. It's an important factor in socialising puppies, especially if you have a large family. Puppies need to know that you love them, but they also need to know their place in the family hierarchy. A well-trained dog is also a happy and safer dog so start this training as early as possible.

There are lots of puppy training schools all over the UK but you can also do it yourself. If so, stick to short, regular training sessions, and make them fun and engaging. Like children, puppies learn quicker when they’re enjoying themselves. And focus on positive re-enforcement - treats and affection are the best kinds of motivators. But if you do need to reprimand them, use short sharp voice commands like “no” and “stop”. Anything harsher than that will be counter-productive. Check out the following video for a few training tips:

Training tip #5: Leash training

Puppies are brimming with energy so pulling on a leash is natural. But never pull or yank the leash; puppies are very delicate and they won't respond well to this kind of treatment. Start with a harness or a loose leash and use treats to encourage the puppy to stay by your side. You can start by taking them on short, slow walks around the house and garden; that way they prepared for when you start taking them out into the world. Puppies get excited by new things and other dogs, and if they haven't been trained properly the first few months will be a real struggle.

Training tip #6: Socialising a puppy - puppy play dates!

An unsocialised dog is a problem dog. They’ll likely be anxious or aggressive and will be a risk to themselves and others. So again - start early on. The first three months are crucial but don’t put too much pressure on your puppy. Short playdates with other vaccinated puppies will get them used to being around other dogs, and introducing them to your friends and family gets them accustomed to being around new people. And take them for short walks or rides in the car - let your puppy see what the world looks like. Show them that it's a friendly and exciting place rather than a scary one!