Puppy training (2 to 4 months)
- How to engage your puppy in play
Developing a lasting relationship with your puppy through play.
- Communicating with your puppy
Proper communication techniques are essential when teaching basic obedience.
- Introducing your puppy to the lead
How to introduce the lead in such a way as to not cause your puppy undue distress that may result in long-term anxiety issues.
- Socializing with other dogs
An important part of puppy development is knowing how to behave with other dogs—at home, in the streets and at the park.
- Play-biting and mouthing
Learn to set boundaries, and to nip unacceptable behavior in the bud.
Training Your Puppy (2-4 months)
It is never too early to start training your puppy. In fact, we recommend that training begin within the first couple of days of your new puppy settling into its new home. Hold a family meeting and lay down some house rules: if your puppy is not allowed on furniture, then make sure that every member of the family sticks to that rule. The more consistent the rules and training, the quicker your puppy will learn. Any inconsistencies in applying the rules will only confuse your puppy.
Never punish your puppy if it misbehaves; puppies have no concept of right or wrong, and smacking or manhandling one will only serve to confuse and traumatise it. Patience is key when it comes to discipline: say “No” firmly whenever he does anything you do not agree with. Again, with consistency, it will soon learn what it is and isn’t allowed to do.
When teaching your puppy basic commands like sit, stay, down and come, try to use just one word for each command. Remember that your puppy doesn’t understand human language, so try to keep commands simple and monosyllabic. Reward your puppy positively when it gets it right, either with a treat, a toy or even with a scratch behind the ears. Your puppy will soon associate responding to the command correctly with being rewarded. Remember though, to keep your initial training sessions short and sweet to maintain your puppy’s interest and attention. You want it to finish the session wanting more. Also, if you are rewarding your puppy with treats, remember not to overdo it, and that the treats make up part of your puppy’s daily food intake.
Puppy Training or Home Training
Puppy training classes can be a great place to socialize your puppy. When choosing a class, it is important to find one that suits your puppy’s needs and temperament. A high-energy puppy may require a few one-on-one sessions first to avoid becoming a disruption to the rest of the class. Find a class with a structured programme that has clear goals to aim towards.
Bearing in mind that dogs and puppies have an innate pack mentality with a natural affinity for leadership, it is important that you maintain a constant air of leadership around your puppy. You are its ‘pack leader’, so to speak, and if you fail to guide your puppy, it will try to assume the role of leader, and try to take control of situations, with often disastrous results.
Your Puppy’s Health: Vaccinations and Check-Ups
Your puppy must be vaccinated before it can be taken outdoors. When you get a new puppy, ask the breeder if it’s had its first course of vaccinations. Do not guess! Your puppy can be taken out on walks as soon as it’s gotten its recommended course of vaccinations.
While you’re at the vet’s, be sure to get your puppy a general health check as well. It is always better to catch any problems sooner rather than later, so that they can be quickly remedied, or in cases where there are major problems, you may have recourse from the breeder.
At home, we recommend you simulate the examination process with your puppy a couple of times a week: check its ears, paws, underbelly and around its rear end. This way, you could spot any abnormalities as soon as possible. It will also help get your puppy accustomed to being handled and examined.
Preventing Unwanted Behaviour
Below are some common puppy behavioural issues, some general advice on the source of the problem, and how to correct the behavior. It is important to remember that while these are common problems, the reasons for your puppy’s misbehavior may stem from a number of elements, including your puppy’s individual personality, its upbringing and its environment. Please also note that corrections should only ever be vocal; you should never respond to bad behavior with physical discipline.
Chewing: It is natural for a puppy to want to chew, especially when it is teething. The challenge is getting your puppy to learn what they can and cannot chew. Provide your puppy with a suitable and safe chew toy. Something that can also provide the puppy with some mental stimulation, such as a treat dispensing toy (check out the Kong™ and the Buster Cube), would be a bonus. Keep your valuables out of reach, and if your puppy manages to get its paws on something of yours—a sock, a shoe, etc.—there is no point in trying to correct the behavior after the damage has been done. Only correct inappropriate chewing when you catch your puppy in the act. To further reduce the amount of damage your puppy could wreak, limit its roaming space, ideally placing it somewhere without wires to chew. You may wish to consider crate training to really keep your puppy out of trouble.
Barking: If your puppy barks at a noise or when someone’s at the door, you will only encourage it by acknowledging its barking with “What is it?”, “Who’s there?”, etc. A yipping puppy may seem endearing, but if the behavior is not corrected, it will develop into a larger problem as the puppy grows older.
Biting: Any form of biting, even play-biting, should not be allowed. Hence, never play rough hand games with your puppy, as it will definitely encourage it to bite. If your puppy does bite, freeze your hand movements immediately, and use whatever correction command you have chosen, like “No”. Say it firmly and wait until the puppy stops biting and starts licking your hand. Then give it plenty of praise.
Digging: Digging is a natural canine instinct, and digging for and finding things can be mentally stimulating for your puppy. They dig when they hear something underground, or they could dig to bury their food or to make a bed. However, what you don’t want is to have your puppy digging a hole in your flowerbed! Offer your puppy a suitable place to dig: a sandpit would be ideal, as the sand would be gentle on your puppy’s paws. Hide some food in the sand for your puppy to find, and be sure to correct it whenever it begins to dig anywhere he shouldn’t.
Separation anxiety: There could be a lot of contributing factors to why a puppy displays separation anxiety. The most common causes normally stem from a lack of firm leadership, improper conditioning, or a general lack of control. If your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety, practice separation at home. If it barks, correct the behavior. When you get home, do not greet your puppy immediately. Also remember to always show leadership around your puppy. If problems persist, consult a dog trainer.
Scratching and barking at the door: When this happens, do not open the door. Use your correction word to stop it. If your puppy is on the other side of the door, correct it through the door to let it know you have not abandoned it, but that you disapprove of its behavior.
Car sickness: Start your puppy with short trips to get it used to riding in a car, and slowly work your way up to longer journeys.
Stealing: The best way to prevent your puppy stealing your items, is to always keep your belongings out of reach. If your puppy is caught in the act of stealing, correct it using your chosen command. Never chase your puppy to get the item back. Instead, get down to its level and get it to come to you. When it does, praise it.
*N.B.: All advice on this page is for information purposes only. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding training your puppy or dog behavior, do get in touch with Dog School. We can offer a variety of packages to suit your needs, and will be more than happy to discuss these with you. Click on “Contact Us” at the top of the page to get in touch.
What our clients say about us
“I recently asked Dog School to help train my new puppy which was completely untrained. After the training she is now far better behaved and most importantly house trained! Would recommend to others.”