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Training tips for new puppies

It’s exciting bringing a puppy home for the first time, and while you may be tempted to do nothing but cuddle and pat it, it’s worth knowing you can start simple training immediately.

Reward-based positive reinforcement training is the most effective and humane type of dog training.

Here are a few tips and tricks for any new puppy.

Environment

Try to start your training in a quiet environment. New puppies can be easily distracted, particularly if there is a lot of activity happening.

Duration

As a general rule, you might aim for at least fifteen minutes of training per day. This can be incorporated into everyday tasks. Do remember that your puppy is still very young, so don’t overwork them with a rigid training schedule and try to always be patient.

Treats to train

It’s common to use treats while training, but you might also use a favourite toy. Remember if you do use food, keep it healthy and don’t overfeed – use small amounts/pieces of safe dog treats.

Technique

Reward-based positive reinforcement training is the most effective and humane type of dog training – it is recommended by the RSPCA. This method sets the dog up to succeed and then rewards the dog for performing the ‘good’ behaviour (positive reinforcement).

Reward-based training is enjoyable for the dog and positively enhances the relationship between the dog and handler. Rewards may be in the form of a food treat, verbal praise such as “good dog” in a pleasant tone of voice, or gentle pat on the chest to be given when the dog performs the ‘good’ behaviour.

This method also involves generally ignoring any ‘unwanted’ behaviour. This way, the dog is not rewarded for any unwanted behaviour. If dogs are not rewarded (i.e. receives no attention or treats) for certain behaviour, then they tend to stop doing it.

Reward-based training does not involve aversive techniques, physical punishment or the assertion of dominance over the dog. Your vet can provide detailed information around training your dog; bear in mind that it can take time to train dogs so patience is key.

What to teach

Start with basic commands such as sit, stay, down and come. As your puppy starts to learn, you can move onto other commands. Positively reward the dog when it performs the desired task. Puppy schools that are run through vet clinics can best teach owners how to teach their dog in a humane and kind way.

Classes

Many vets run puppy training schools, which are a very important part of puppy care, training and socialisation. It’s a good idea to make an appointment with a vet as early as possible in any case.