New Puppy Training

Posted by Jared Chamberlain

new_puppy_trainingThinking its time to invite one of these fluffy friends into your home? Let's be honest, the kids are off of school for months. It could be a great time for them to train and bond the new little family member. In the last 6 weeks, 4 of the families on our team, all welcomed new four-legged family members into their home, some adopted and some are new puppies. 

Let's explore what a new puppy involves and share some resources for you to use along the way!

A New Puppy Routine

Just a few weeks ago, I, Jessi, welcomed a new member to our family. A rambunctious and wild, but soft and cuddly, 9-week old pup. The first few days were a whirlwind of chaos. The little furball nipped and chomped at everything and everyone she touched. She made messes everywhere she went. But this is how they learn! 

Dogs explore the world through their mouth and nose, just like a baby does with their hands and mouth. They need routine. They need to be able to anticipate the events of each day. Once your new pup learns a method, you will see that they start to calm down more each and every day. You should start following a routine from day 1 and always be consistent. 

Here is an example of what a routine for a new puppy should look like:

  • As soon as your puppy wakes up, take him outside to potty. Always use praise and treats to encourage him. If the puppy wants to play outside, make sure that potty time happens first, then play.
  • After your walk, its meal time! Always keep the food and food bowl in the same place, using indicator words such as 'do you want some food?' 'Are you hungry?'
  • Once mealtime is finished, it will be time to go outside for a potty break. Puppies can generally hold their bladder for one hour per month of age, so it's critical to do this as soon as he is done eating.
  • If you need to head to work, now would be the time to put your puppy in their crate with a safe chew toy. It's best if arrangements can be made to come home at lunch to feed him and take your puppy out for a potty break. During the first 6 months of life, he should have 3 meals a day, then 2 meals once he has reached adulthood.
  • Once your back from work, take him out for a potty break! It might be best to carry your puppy to the door for the first few weeks to prevent any accidents. 
  • The evening hours are a great time to focus on training your new furry friend. Some useful commands to start with would be sit, down, outside, drop it and crate up if you are crate training.
  • When bedtime arrives, make sure to take your puppy out for a final potty break before settling down for bed. You will need to take the puppy out a few times throughout the night until he can sleep through the urges.

The First 12 Weeks

In the first 12 weeks of a dog's life, their brain is like a sponge. This 12-week window is ideal for showing your puppy all the different people, places and sounds the world has to offer. In general, you want to expose your puppy to about 2 new things a day and repeat what you show to the pup 7-8 times. Starting with different surfaces such as carpet and tile is perfect because there's a good chance your dog can explore 2 or 3 kinds right inside your home! Some other good surfaces to expose the dog to would be wooden bridges, metal grates, sand and rocky areas. 

New sounds are easy to show to your furry friend. This one can be as simple as turning on the tv! Playing loud noises like action movies and even wild animal documentaries is a great way to show your dog the range of sounds. 

Exposing your dog to the vacuum would fall under this category as well. I find that pulling out the vacuum and rolling it along the floor with the power off is a great start. Praise your pup for acknowledging that the vacuum is there and let them sniff and explore. Once your dog has familiarized themselves, turn on the vacuum and give praise for any positive behaviour when the vacuum is on.

Bath time is an essential routine to show your young puppy as frequently as possible. I like to give my new pup a bath every 2-3 days so that my dog can be as comfortable as possible in the water. Try bringing a toy into the tub and lots of treats, of course! If you want your furry friend to tag along at the beach, then it is time to start bringing him there! Let your dog look and decide how close he wants to get to it. If your dog is timid, praise him for even looking at the water. If they get closer, praise and give them treat! Repeat this until your dog is as close as he wants to get for the day. Again, repeating this as frequently as possible in the first 12 weeks is a big help in the long run!

Introducing your dog to different people is just as important as dogs. You want your dog to see that people come in all shapes and sizes, even wearing hats and sunglasses too! Exposing your dog to kids, adults of all shapes, colours and sizes is crucial for a well-behaved dog. Once your dog has its vaccinations, you can start letting the pup safely socialize with other dogs. There is no place better than the dog park! Keeping your dog on the leash is best until they can learn to play without getting too rough. The dog needs to learn to recognize other dog's physical queues and how they should be responding. Telling your dog 'no' when they are being too rough, can help speed up the process. 

New Puppy Crate Training

There are many theories and styles of training a dog, but for the sake of simplicity, let's stick to some basics! 

For my new puppy, I chose to use a crate. Crates can be a great way to keep your puppy out of trouble and establish a safe space that your pup can call home, but the process can take days or even weeks and is different for every dog. The most important thing to remember about crate training is that it should not be used for punishment. 

Something I have been doing when my puppy misbehaves is saying, "uh-oh!" as soon as it happens. I then take the dog outside if it was a potty accident or put him in a time-out area away from everyone for just a few short minutes if he misbehaves in the house. This is a great way to acknowledge wrongdoing when you catch them in the act. 

Whenever your puppy walks into their crate, you want to give him a command such as 'crate up!', or 'kennel up!' An excellent way to get your puppy to love their crate is to start by putting a small treat somewhere in the crate. Don't let the puppy see you place it inside, and praise them every time they show any interest or curiosity. 

Once your little guy is comfortable being inside the crate, you can work on closing the door. To get the pup used to the sound, you should have all meals given in the crate, and while the doggy is eating, open and close the door throughout the meal. The next step would be to have your pup go in his crate with a toy, close the door for 1 minute, then open the door. 

You can also set your pup inside, close the door, then open it and try to get the pup to stay and close it again. Giving lots of praise throughout the process is so important! If your puppy calms down with the door closed, praise and treat. Putting your dog in the crate with the door closed when they nap is a good way to work on this as well. 

Basic Puppy Commands

puppy_earsNow, let's talk about how and when to use some basic commands. Sit is a perfect start! 

To teach a dog to sit, hold a treat just above their nose and slowly move it toward their head and back until the pup naturally sits. Always praise and treat until he understands what it means. 

Outside is a command you want to use before letting your pup out the door. Once your dog can show you that they want to go outside, you can start acknowledging them by asking if they would like to go outside. If your puppy starts trying to eat things on your walks that they shouldn't be, teaching them the command' drop it' is great for preventing this. Don't be afraid to grab whatever it might be and pull it out of the puppy's mouth. You want your dog to understand that to take care of them, you need to touch and examine their mouth and teeth. It is essential to make sure your dog is comfortable with having your hands on their mouth so you can later care for the teeth. 

After your dog has learned to listen to the commands you have taught him, you can start training the puppy on the fun ones such as fetch, rollover, and paw. Learning too many commands at once can be overwhelming and hard to keep track of for a young pup, so be sure to gradually teach new things.

If you would like to find out the places that are dog-friendly in Calgary, here is part two of our #stayathome blog posts about those 4-legged family members.

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