11 Tips on Raising & Training a Puppy

Raising and training a puppy is full of rewarding experiences. However, it can also leave owners new to puppy rearing full of questions and frustrating experiences. The following 11 tips will help give you a guide to raising your puppy into a well balanced dog.

Socializing your puppy is one of the most important things you can do to prepare them to be a happy well-mannered dog. When it comes to socializing your puppy, the earlier you start the better. You will want to put them in many diverse environments so they become accustomed to different sights, smells, and noises.

  • Take your puppy to metropolitan areas so they will be exposed to buses, skateboards, loud noises, people in uniforms, other dogs, etc.  
  • Your goal is to let your puppy meet as many people as possible for the first few weeks. Make sure your puppy is enjoying the interaction with strange people.
  • Some puppies may enthusiastically enjoy petting while others may be a little too shy for handling from strangers.
  •  If you have a shy puppy, take food treats with you and ask people to drop treats for the puppy.
  • Let your puppy meet other dogs that are playful or friendly toward other dogs. If you meet a dog on the street with your puppy, make sure and ask if the dog is friendly with other dogs. 
  • You will want to wait until your puppy has all necessary vaccinations before visiting areas such as dog parks.

Feeding Schedule
Putting your dog on a feeding schedule will help your puppy’s elimination times become predictable. Depending on the age of your puppy, you will be feeding 2-3 times daily.

  • Place the food down for 10 minutes in a quiet area such as a crate or puppy proof room.
  • If the puppy does not eat the food in the allotted time slot, pick up the food and offer it again at the next scheduled time.
  • Make sure you are feeding a quality food that does not contain corn, wheat, or meat by products for the main ingredient.   

I recommend you feed in 4 different ways:

  1. Feed in crate and play pen area(forms positive association of crate)
  2. Feed from hand(aids in bonding)
  3. Hand feed while the puppy is eating out of bowl(helps avoid future food guarding)
  4. Begin shaping sits and down positions while delivering food(sets foundation for future training)

Handling & Grooming
Get your puppy used to being touched all over. Let many people pick up your puppy, touch their paws, look in their mouths and ears, and play with your puppy.

  • Make it fun and incorporate treats during the process.
  • You should also begin preparing your puppy for nail trimming and grooming.  
  • Touch the nail clippers to your puppy’s nail but don’t clip it. Follow each touch of the nail with a treat. As your puppy gets better with this, clip one nail and treat and then stop.
  • You don’t have to clip all of the nails in one session. Space it out over a few weeks initially and then you will have a dog that will accept nail clipping.
  • This will also help your veterinarian when they need to examine your puppy.

Give plenty of toys and rotate them to keep them interesting. Puppies love lots of variety in their toys.  

  • If your puppy picks up something inappropriate, simply interrupt them and give a more suitable toy.
  • If you are unable to supervise the puppy, put them in a crate or play pen so that they do not chew on inappropriate items such as shoes, hats, remote controls, etc.

Crate Training & Play Pen
A crate or play pen is an indispensable tool for efficient housetraining and can be used as an aid to prevent destructive behavior.  The crate or play pen is also used to keep your puppy safe. There are a lot of items in the home that can be dangerous or toxic to a young curious puppy.

  • Feed the puppy some of their meals in the crate so they form a positive association of the crate.
  • Let the puppy take naps in the crate and spend some time in their crate while you are home.
  • If you only use the crate when you leave the home, the puppy will see their crate as a predictor that something undesirable will occur (such as you leaving).

You will need to contact a veterinarian to discuss your puppy’s health and keep them up to date on their necessary vaccinations.

If you concentrate on house breaking the dog the correct way from the start, it will be much quicker and easier.  Some dogs house break quicker than others, but the rules are the same.

  • Give the puppy ample opportunities to go in a designated area.
  • Supervise the puppy at all times in the house.
  • Confine the puppy to a crate or play pen when you are unable to supervise.  
  • When you catch the dog in the act of going, clap your hands to interrupt them and then take them outside.
  • Reward the puppy with praise when they eliminate in the appropriate outside area.
  • If your puppy does have an accident, clean up after the puppy with a product that does not contain ammonia. Nature's Miracle is a great product that can be found in most pet stores.

Play biting is a normal behavior that the majority of puppies display. Puppies bite each other frequently during play and learn valuable social lessons because of it. Your puppy’s biting and mouthing is generally caused by your puppy wanting to play with you like they would another dog or puppy.

  • Practice games of tug of war and tossing toys to redirect your puppy into a fun game that directs their mouth to objects they are appropriate to mouth.
  • Also remember that giving your puppy lots of exercise, chew toys, and interaction with other puppies or dogs will minimize the amount of play biting with you.
  • There are a few different ways to handle play biting and nipping and I discuss this in more detail in the member’s area.

Teach your puppy to respond to their name
After you decide on a name for you puppy, you will need to teach them that when they hear their name that they should pay attention to you.

  • Walk away from your puppy and say their name and encourage your puppy to come to you. When they do, offer them a small treat or piece of kibble.
  • Then run away again and call your puppy by their name and reward them for coming to you. We have a video tutorial in the member’s area to show you exactly how to teach your puppy to respond to their name.

Setting Rules & Boundaries
A puppy comes with natural instinctive puppy behavior that can sometimes conflict with what we would deem appropriate in home manners. Teaching your puppy what is acceptable behavior and what is not from the start will help the puppy learn to predict how they fit into their home and surroundings. Setting rules and being consistent with these rules will make it clear to your puppy what is allowed and what is not.

  • Go over the rules that you want enforced with everyone in the family so the puppy does not get mixed signals.
  • Decide if you are going to allow the puppy on the furniture ahead of time so you know how to respond when the puppy tries to climb on the couch for the first time.
  • Decide what areas in the home you will allow the puppy access to for the first few weeks.
  • If you have a large breed puppy, make sure that you are not reinforcing jumping up while they are small and cute only to become frustrated when they are still jumping up at 8 months old.  

Cope with being alone
It is very tempting to spend every waking minute with your puppy when you are home with them, however this can cause separation anxiety when you confine them and leave the puppy home alone.

  • Begin instilling the concept that there are times when they have to be separated from you.
  • Do this by placing the puppy in a crate, play pen, or puppy proof room at times while you are home.
  • Practice moving about the house while the puppy is in a crate or play pen. You can give the puppy a few toys and a chew bone to keep them interested in an activity. 
  • A chew proof bottle full of warm water and a furry stuffed animal can help the puppy cope with being away from its litter when your first bring them home. The warmth from the bottle simulates body heat that the puppy felt while curling up with its litter during sleep.
  • You will also want to walk in and out of the front door at times to desensitize them to you leaving the home. This will help ease the anxiety when you have to be away for longer periods of time.
  • A little whining is normal behavior for puppies when they are separated. In time they will learn to cope. If your puppy is experiencing separation anxiety, refer to separation anxiety in our member’s area.

Keep in mind that raising a puppy is full of ups and downs and the experience is different with every puppy that you will ever own. Enjoy it as they are only a puppy once. 

Published on July 23, 2017

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