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How To Train Your Puppy - Simple Steps To An Obedient Puppy
So you've carefully chosen a puppy that's a suitable breed for you, your family, and environment (e.g. not a Pitbull if you have small children, not a Pekingese or Saint Bernard if you have allergies, and not an Alaskan Malamute if you live in a sunny climate).
Now that you've realised that all your adorable ball of fluff wants to do is pee everywhere it can, chew on everything it can, and ignore you in every way it can - congratulations, you've made the decision, not that you really had an option! - to learn how to train your pup.
Before You Start - The Basics
Both you and your puppy need to have discipline. The rules must be set in place from Day 1, or else the puppy will be confused. If you want your puppy sleeping in the kitchen at night, then don't give in to those beautiful brown eyes and let her sleep on your bed a couple of nights a week.
You need to find the perfect reward for your pup. Whether it's a biscuit, a fuss, or a minute with their favourite toy, it doesn't matter. Dog food / biscuits usually work well though - but don't overdo it or you'll be reading an article on suitable dog diets next!
- Your Breed
No breed of dog is the same, so it would be a good idea to read up on your breed to know what to expect.
- Be Verbal
When your puppy does something she should, give her verbal praise as you reward her with a treat. Have a high pitched, kind voice, and then when your puppy disobeys use a sterner voice. That way your pup will be able to tell the difference between right and wrong. Make sure you always make up with your puppy afterwards though!
Please remember that until a puppy is 12 weeks old, she does not, no matter how much she tries, or how much you shout at her (which you shouldn't), have full control of its bladder or bowels.
Puppies can usually "hold it in" with the hour-to-month rule. So if your puppy is 5 months, she should hopefully be able to last 5 hours without going to the toilet, 6 months - 6 hours, you get it.
Feed your pup at the same time every day, that way she will work up a routine.
Praise your puppy every time it "goes" outside. This will make sure she knows that what she is doing is right. If you set her a specific place to pee then the next time you bring her there her keen sense of smell will be able to remind her that she should pee here.
Be aware of signs that your puppy needs to go to the toilet. If she begins to squat, whimper or is constantly looking at the door. If you see your pup begin to pee, clap to get her attention and she should stop midstream and then by your stern voice and taking her outside, understand that she did wrong. After she pees outside, then you can give her verbal praise.
Biting & Chewing
Know that she doesn't mean to hurt you when she bites, to her it's only playing.
You can let her mouth on you a little bit, but when her teeth come out (if only gently even) let out a cry or say "ow" and pull away. This will startle your puppy and she'll recognise that biting is something she shouldn't do unless she wants you to stop playing with her.
When you see your pup chewing on something that she shouldn't be chewing on, if possible (I'm not saying to hide the sofa from her!) take the object away from her (or simply distract her), tell her off, and then give her a chew toy instead and verbally praise her when she's chewing on that.
If your puppy continues to chew on things that aren't hers, you can buy a taste deterrent from a pet shop. You can get flavours such as bitter apple, bitter cherry, spicy flavours, and you simply spray onto the object. The bad taste will cause your pup to immediately stop chewing on whatever is in their mouth.
Put your puppy on a lead so you have a bit more control. Hold a treat right in front of the puppy and whilst pulling up the lead move the treat up. Your puppy should follow the treat and automatically sit down. If she doesn't, don't worry, just gently push her backside to the ground. The second she's sitting say "sit!" and then give her the treat and verbal praise.
2. Lie down!
Put your puppy on a lead again and have a treat ready. Get her to sit. Kneel down next to her and hold the treat right in front of her nose again. Whilst pulling the lead down gently move the treat towards the ground. She should follow. Again, if this doesn't work, don't fret, just take her gently by the collar and pull towards the ground. When your puppy is lying down, say "down!" and give her the treat.
Get your puppy to sit, and kneel a couple of feet away from her, with her favourite toy. Pat your knees, call your pup's name in an encouraging voice and show her the toy. When she starts coming towards you, say "come here!" and praise and reward her.
With your pup on the lead again, make her sit. Firmly say "stay!" and put your hand up. Very slowly take a small step back. If your pup begins to move, say in a sharp, loud voice "ah ah!" This will get her attention and she will know she has done something wrong. Firmly, but gently, put her back where she started and start over. When the puppy stays, say "okay!" and let her come to you. Give her praise and a treat.