Happy, sociable, well-behaved puppies are every owner’s dream. However, you’ll have to put in the effort to get the best outcome, and it’s always wise to start training your furbaby when they’re still young and impressionable. They may have even had some basic toilet training and obedience training from their puppy raiser. But now that they’re home, the task is now yours to reinforce.
Puppies tend to learn very quickly, and as obvious as it might sound, they don’t learn what they’re not taught, so you’ll need to teach them how to behave right from the get-go. There’s a ton of literature and advice available on puppy training, and a quick web search should also point you to training courses that may be available in your area. Alternatively, your vet would also be the best person to advise you on the best training professionals and centres for your specific breed, or may even offer their own training resources.
What basics should you keep in mind?
Puppy training can be approached in many ways, and no two trainers will train a dog in exactly the same way. However, they will mostly agree on these few basic golden rules!
Positive reinforcement for good behaviour in dogs: If your puppy does a good thing, reward it. Puppies learn by associating their actions with your reactions. If they get a reward for doing something good, they’re more likely to do it again. However, you have to reward them quickly enough to make the connection — about one or two seconds. You can reward your pup with a treat or with praise, or both. You could also turn it into a game to help reinforce their positive behaviour.
Ignoring naughty behaviour in dogs: Sometimes your puppy will be naughty, and you’ll need to teach them what not to do. Certain behaviour, like chewing, is part of how they explore their new world. However, your pup won’t know what to chew and what not to chew. Rather than shouting at your puppy or smacking it when it chews the wrong thing, it’s best to ignore them. Just pretend they're not there.
Saying "no" to protect them or others: Occasionally, your pup will do something potentially dangerous, like chewing on a live electric cord. In this case, you will have to intervene, but without shouting and corporal punishment. Interrupt the pup with the word “no” to get their attention. Then, when your pup stops and pays attention to you, reward it. Again, praise or a treat will help to reinforce what they should or shouldn’t be chewing on or playing with.
Keeping the training short and digestible: Puppies, like kids, have a short attention span, so it’s best to keep training sessions brief. It’s better to have five or six two-minute sessions per day than one longer session. You should also train your puppy in a variety of environments, for instance, both inside and outside the house, and on walks. Just make sure that your puppy is not distracted. Your pup will have a better chance of understanding your requests when you have its undivided attention.