Training Tips For Your Pup


If you have a four-legged friend in the house, you know that they’re much more than just a pet: they’re a member of the family. And while these adorable pups provide unconditional love, endless kisses, and cuteness to the max, an untrained pup can bring unwanted stress and tension to your household. A trained pup is a happy pup…and very happy pup owners! Don’t allow pup training to overwhelm you. It’s important to note that all of your interactions with your puppy are potential lessons: everything from the way you greet them (are you allowing them to jump up on your legs?) to how you walk them on leash (are you following while they drag you along?) will teach your puppy what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.

Pups as young as 8 weeks old have the capacity to learn the basics, but remember: The younger the pup, the shorter the attention span. Puppy training lessons should be short, fun and supplemented with many opportunities for play. The best way to train a puppy is to conduct lessons when they are well-rested. Make sure they are ready to go but not too excited, as it might be tougher for them to focus. 

Before you begin, take your pup outside for a potty trip, and make sure to take them out right after you finish as well. You’ll need a pocket full of high-value puppy treats. Puppy training requires lots of rewards, something small but also tasty enough to keep your puppy engaged in the training game.Basic training lessons should take place in a familiar, distraction-free environment. You and your puppy will eventually transition to working outside and in new spaces, but the training initial stages should be happening in a low-key spot so that it’s easy for your pup to focus on you. It’s also helpful to have a few puppy toys ready to go so you and your puppy can take play breaks. A tug toy or ball for fetching are great options that allow your dog to burn through some puppy excitement before it’s time to focus again. 

Let’s take a look at a good timeline when it comes to training your new pup: 

8-10 week

  • Set up a daily schedule: Dogs thrive when they know what happens next, so map out a schedule that includes your pup’s meals, potty trips, play times, training lessons, naps times in the crate and end of day wind down. (It might help to keep notes!)
  • Focus on crate and potty training: Remember, when you teach your dog crate training you’re also working on house training at the same time. Your most important goals at this stage are helping your pup learn that the crate is a happy place, and that they get paid with a small treat immediately after they potty outside.
  • Begin socialization: A well-socialized dog is a happy and confident dog, so enroll your pup in an accredited class and work on those social skills in a controlled environment.
  • Work on alone time: While it’s tempting to spend every second with your puppy, it’s important that they learn how to be comfortable when left alone. Once your puppy is confident and happy in their crate thanks to your introductory crate training, practice brief departures (this should be no more than 3-4 hours for puppies 6 months or younger), either leaving your home entirely or just moving to another room so you are out of your puppy’s sight.
  • Introduce the leash: Your puppy is going to have a lifelong relationship with a dog leash, so get them acclimated to the sensation of wearing it before going for walks. Clip on a light leash and let them drag it through the house, then get them used to walking on it without pulling. The goal is to always have a gentle curve in the leash.
  • Teach “sit”: One of the earliest obedience training lessons for a puppy to master is the basic “sit” cue. Begin by teaching it in a low-distraction environment, then work on it in a variety of locations. This lesson is the first step in learning impulse control since you can ask your pup to “sit” before giving them things they want, like their food bowl or a toy.


10-12 weeks

  • Socialization: Continue your pup’s exposure to the world by welcoming new friends into your home to meet them and taking them on brief outings in areas where dogs typically aren’t found, like the bank or dry cleaner (if dogs are allowed). Don’t forget to bring treats with you!
  • Mouthing and chew toys: At this stage your puppy will want to put their mouth (and sharp teeth!) on everything, so help them focus on appropriate chewing outlets other than your skin. Provide your puppy with a variety of heavy duty treat-stuffable toys like the KONG Puppy dog toy. (Plush toys aren’t appropriate for teething toys.) You should also help your puppy inhibit the force of their bite by using the “ouch” technique when they chomp on you. 
  • Body handling: You’ll have to perform a variety of caretaking procedures on your dog throughout their life so it’s vital that they are comfortable with all sorts of handling. (Your vet will thank you too!) In short, during individual sessions pair treats with gentle handling to help your dog feel comfortable with manipulation of their ears, mouth, paws and tail. Once your puppy is okay with handling, begin introducing the tools you’ll need to use, like a toothbrush, nail clippers and a comb.
  • Alone Time: Continue your pup’s alone-time training by leaving your house or removing yourself to another room out of your dog’s eyesight for longer periods of time (again, no more than 3-4 hours at this age). Give your dog a treat-stuffed busy toy to keep them happily occupied while on their own in the crate.
  • “Say please” training: One of the best training tips for puppies is teaching them to say “please” when they want something. This simple foundation-level impulse control lesson can be used throughout your dog’s life. All you have to do is ask your puppy to sit when they want something, like access to the outdoors or a toy.
  • Basic commands: Begin working on training cues like coming when called, down and brief stays with positive reinforcement training. Keep your puppy’s lessons short and upbeat so they remain interested in their lessons.


3-4 months

  • Post-vaccine socialization: Once your puppy has completed their vaccination series, you can begin taking them to more populated locations. As always, make sure that your puppy sets the pace for exploration and meeting new friends, and don’t force them into scenarios where they seem uncomfortable. (Your puppy is still too young and impressionable to visit the neighborhood dog park at this stage.)
  • Leash training: Your pup is starting to get bigger and stronger at this point so continue to focus on polite leash walking. Unless you plan to show your dog in competitions, they don’t need to learn to walk in perfect heel position—it’s an unnatural behavior that doesn’t allow them to explore the environment. But on the flipside, your puppy shouldn’t be allowed to pull while on leash.
  • Build on training behaviors: Introduce your foundation training behaviors in new and more distracting environments. Work on recall (aka coming when called) outside and increase the duration of time your puppy can obey the stay cue.
  • Find a dog trainer: At this stage, your puppy will likely have finished up with puppy socialization classes, so look for a positive reinforcement trainer to continue refining the lessons learned in puppy class and at home with you.


4-6 months

  • Leash manners: Continue refining your puppy’s leash manners in a variety of public spaces so that they know how to walk politely no matter the environment or level of distractions.
  • Continuing education: Your puppy might have finished their basic training course at this point but that doesn’t mean training is done! Continue working on the behavior you learned in class together every day, and consider signing up for advanced training.
  • Don’t forget the treats: Your dog will probably have a good grasp of basic training behaviors but that doesn’t mean you should get rid of the treats! You should reward your puppy for a job well done as they grow, but you can also start incorporating alternate rewards like play.

Follow this timeline and be patient when working with your pup. Most pups are eager to please their owners. Good luck with training! Before you know it your pup’s behavior will be totally PAWESOME!

To read the article in its entirety including detailed tips on crate training, potty training, and basic commands, click HERE.


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