How to Introduce Training to a New Puppy
Puppy training can start at 12-16 weeks old, when you may begin teaching it the five basic commands: "Sit”,"Stay", "Lay down”, ”Heel”, and "Come here”. Use correction and reward as a method, and avoid any verbal or physical aggression. Crate train your dog to condition its behavior when you are out, and help to house train it. Buy a crate large enough for the dog to use as an adult, encourage it to go inside by means of treats and toys, and gradually work up to leaving your puppy alone in the crate. Aim towards leaving your puppy inside while you're out of the house, and crate it overnight.
Teaching Your Puppy Basic Commands
Train when your puppy is old enough.Puppies will be ready to learn basic commands at around 12-16 weeks old. Prior to that, you can prepare your puppy for this training by teaching it about praise at around 8 weeks old. Offer it ample affection and encouragement anytime it does something you ask (e.g. coming to you when called).
Use the correction and reward method.This training should be done using the correction and reward method. Correction involves speaking firmly without yelling or any physical punishment. The reward component should involve giving your puppy anything that it enjoys upon completing a task, such as favorite toys or treats when it sits upon command.
Teach your puppy to come to you.Teaching your puppy to come to you on command is a simple but important training step that can keep your dog out of trouble (e.g. to keep your puppy from running off or approaching a dangerous situation). Start by squatting down in front of your puppy, opening your arms, and saying "come here". If your puppy moves toward you, offer it ample praise as well as a pat on the belly or head.
- If your puppy does not come to you, gently approach it, attach its leash, and guide it towards the spot you called it to, praising it along the way to create positive associations.
Train your puppy to sit.Kneel in front of your puppy and hold a treat in front of it. Slowly lift the treat above its head, which should prompt it to sit. Praise your puppy and give it the treat.
- If your puppy doesn't sit, place your hand on its behind and gently guide it into a sitting position, immediately offering praise along with the treat once it's sitting.
Get your puppy to stay.Once you've taught your puppy how to sit on command, you can teach it to stay. Have your puppy sit, with its leash attached, and turn around to face it. Holding the leash slack, gently back up while holding your hand (palm up) to your puppy's face, saying "stay".
- If your puppy gets up before you say a release word (e.g. "ok" or "go"), gently repeat the step.
Teach your puppy to lie down on command.Kneel next to your puppy and gently place on hand on its shoulders. Hold a treat in front of its face and give the command "lie down", slowly lowering the food in front of its face towards the ground and guiding it downward with the other hand. Once your puppy is all the way down, praise it and give it the treat.
Train your dog to heel.Teaching your puppy to heel means ensuring it stays by your side when out for a walk. Use a squeaky toy to keep your puppy's attention during training by holding it in one hand, and your puppy's leash in another. Cross the hand with the toy across your body to hold the toy above your puppy's head, and praise your puppy for following the toy (and you) at the pace you set.
Stay consistent.Your puppy will learn better and faster if you are consistent. Talk to everyone who interacts with the puppy to make sure they use the same commands and signals for the same thing. If, for example, "down" typically means lie down, make sure other's don't use it to mean get off the furniture. Keep your puppy's practice consistent.
- It's also important to consider your puppy's limits. They will have a shorter attention span and need to sleep more than older dogs. Try to keep training fun and upbeat, and try to avoid getting angry while your puppy is still learning. Be patient and consistent, and the rest will follow.
Crate Training Your Puppy
Buy a crate.Crate training is a way to condition your puppy's behavior, help with house training, and stop it from acting out. A dog’s crate should be a place it feels safe in and wants to inhabit. Buy a crate that will accommodate your puppy when it has grown to its full size. Your puppy should have just enough room to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, so use a divider to block off part of the crate while your puppy is still small.
- Visit the Association of Professional Dog Trainers website at to see what size crate your fully grown dog will need.
Make the crate comfortable.Make the crate inviting and comfortable by lining it with a soft blanket, and leave it out with the doors open so that your puppy can explore it on its own. Use treats and toys to encourage it to go inside. Start feeding your puppy meals inside the crate to increase its comfort and positive associations with it.
Shut the door with your puppy inside.Gradually start to close the door when your puppy is inside of the crate, for a few seconds at a time at first (preferably while your puppy is eating a meal). Stay close to the crate to reassure the puppy. If the puppy seems okay with being in the closed crate, try leaving the room for very short periods of time (i.e. a minute or two), and reward and praise it heavily once you come back and open the crate. Stay outside for longer, gradually.
Monitor the time carefully.Be mindful of how long you leave your puppy in its crate. Puppies younger than 6 months old should not be crated for periods of more than 3-4 hours as they have to eliminate more frequently than older dogs. Crate training uses a dog's natural inclination to preserve its "den" and avoid soiling it, making it a good strategy for house training. As time goes on, your puppy will learn to hold on and relieve itself when let out.
- One common rule of thumb for how often you should let your puppy out is an hour for every month of age. So a two month old puppy should be let out every two hours or so. In addition to that, they should be taken out immediately after waking up, playing, and eating or drinking.
Leave the house.Keep training your puppy by leaving it in the crate alone in a room for longer and longer periods of time. Once you hit the 30 minute mark, try leaving the house with it crated. Lead it into the crate about 15-20 minutes before you step out so it doesn't start to associate time in its crate with you leaving. Be calm and subtle about leaving and returning, to avoid getting your puppy riled up.
Continue crating your puppy while you are home.Make sure to keep crating your puppy while you are at home, and not just when you leave the house. It is important that your dog's crate feels like its safe place, regardless of what is occurring around it. When your dog is grown, you should be able to leave the crate out (unlocked) as a refuge for your pet, and use it periodically for transport.
Crate your puppy overnight.Try crating your puppy overnight, keeping the crate in your bedroom at first so that you can let your puppy out if it needs to relieve itself during the night. When your puppy starts sleeping through the night without trouble (e.g. whining to be let out), try moving it to another room. As your puppy gets older, it should sleep through the night without anxiety.
- Consider enrolling your puppy in a puppy-specific class at your local pet store or training center. This will help you both learn new behaviors in productive ways, and it allows your puppy to start socializing.
- Check your local humane society for puppy training classes.
Video: Introduce Your New Puppy To Your House - Upland Bird Dog Training
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