As a new dog owner, you might wonder how best to train a puppy. "Puppy-raising can be a big task for new pet parents," says Allison Andrews, CPDT, owner-operator of Foothills Canine Academy in Greenville, SC. "The best approach is to prevent problems from the start through management and socialization, and that requires supervision," Allison says.
Allison Andrews & pup Millie
- Confine with baby gates and play pens. "Puppies get too much freedom from day one," Allison says. "Limit their space to keep them out of trouble!"
- Crates are a must. Allison says, "Crates are an important part of training, but puppies shouldn't be crated for hours on end." Making puppies "hold it" for too long can create health problems. Generally you can crate the puppy for as many hours as it is months old, so a 3-month-old puppy can remain crated for three hours.
- Tethers are a handy tool. One of Allison's favorite tools is a six-foot tether, ideal for managing puppies. It keeps your pup close when you're together, so you can keep a close eye on them, notice when they need to potty and prevent them from chewing on inappropriate items.
- Provide novel, positive experiences. This is especially critical during the first 12 weeks. "Get your pup used to places, people, noises and other dogs," Allison advises. "But do it in small steps so the puppy isn't scared or worried." This builds confidence and keeps the puppy from being fearful.
- Use food. Most puppies love yummy treats, so use treats when training and socializing to reward the behaviors you want to encourage.
- Start young. Training can start when your puppy is quite young Allison insists. In fact, you can do in-home individualized training even before taking your puppy to class.
- Use a clicker. Clicker training teaches the puppy precisely the behavior you're rewarding it for. Learn more about clickers for dog training.
"Getting your puppy off to a good start is the greatest gift you can give yourself, and learning how to train a puppy provides you the confidence to get started," Allison says. "Training is the best way to make sure your dog is a beloved member of your family for years to come."