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9 basic puppy training tips for busy people

Welcoming a new puppy to the family is an exciting time, and while it may be tempting to spend your days cuddling and playing with your puppy, remember to set aside some time for training them too. A well-trained dog will save you a lot of time down the track, will have a stronger bond with you and will also be less likely to develop behavioural problems or have accidents or other mishaps, such as going missing.

Get started with these easy tips for basic training, incorporate training into daily activities, and you’ll have your dog trained quicker and easier than you ever hoped. Download our free eGuide A vet’s top tips for training your dog for much more information.

Reward, never punish 

Remember that training should always be reward-based (which means you reward the behaviour you want) and should never be punishment-based, so have some tasty treats ready and offer verbal praise and pats when you see the behaviour you’re asking for.

Keep the sessions brief...and fun!

10 minutes at a time is enough for a puppy’s attention span! Remember to have fun with your puppy while training. The key is to be patient, consistentand calmly ignore behaviours you don’t want to reinforce, such as jumping up on people or play-biting.

Get social 

All puppies need to be socialised. An important way to start the process is to attend puppy socialisation classes (often called ‘puppy preschool’), where your puppy will learn to socialise and you will learn about basic training and general puppy care. These are offered at most veterinary practices, so your vet can advise you on the best time to enrol (this will generally be after your puppy’s first vaccination).

Nipping/biting 

It’s normal for puppies to explore the world by using their mouths but biting can become a bad habit, so it’s best to nip it in the bud. Set your pup up for success by removing items you don’t want them to chew on. Give your dog appropriate chew toys to discourage them from chewing clothes or furniture, and end play time when they get too rough or begin biting.

Handling

It’s important that your dog is ok being handled, especially by vets and other people that they may not know. As you cuddle your dog, get them used to being touched all over their body, including lying on their back for a tummy rub. Gradually you can move and gently flex and extend their joints, examine their feet, open their mouths and look inside their ears. When they are calm while you do this, you can reward them with a treat.1

Sitting

Place food near the tip of your dog’s nose and move it up and over towards the back of their head. Your dog should naturally sit – when they do, give them the food. Start saying “sit” during the process so they can learn the command.

Waiting

Put a food bowl in front of the dog and restrain your furry friend gently by the harness or collar. Hold up your palm and say “wait.” Take a biscuit from the food bowl and hand-feed your dog if it remains sitting. Break the wait by saying “okay” and pointing to the bowl.

Toilet time

Provide your puppy with lots of opportunities to toilet outside and remember to take them to the toilet area as soon as they wake in the morning, after eating and after playtime. Watch for cues that your dog may need to go to the bathroom. If you see your dog sniffing inside, they may be looking for a good spot to go to the toilet – get them outside pronto. Reward toileting outside with a pat, praise, food or time with their favourite chew toy.2

Walking (on a lead)

It’s important to teach your dog how to walk with you rather than pulling you. Grab a lead in your right hand and treats in your left hand. Start walking. When your dog pulls out in front, change direction. Reward your dog with a treat for following your change in direction. Consult a trainer if you still have problems. Never consider using a check (or ‘choke’) chain, as these can cause serious injuries.3

Ready to start? Find an area free of distractions and take things one step at a time. A little effort over the next few months will set you up for many years of rewarding pet ownership. Download our free eGuide A vet’s top tips for training your dog for much more information.

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