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First Things You Should Teach Your Puppy

Puppies are some of the cutest pets ever. With their innocent faces and cute-looking ears, puppies manage to grab everyone’s hearts at once. So many people won’t hesitate to adopt these cuties, however, they don’t immediately think about what they need to do in order to properly take care of them. If you have just adopted your puppy and are thinking about what things you should teach him first, this blog has all the answers you need. 

Image illustrating the puppy socialization phase.

Early socialization is crucial

One of the most important things you should teach your puppy is that the world is a happy place and that they are safe in your care. Puppy owners or puppy trainers can achieve this through proper socialization. Socialization includes exposing your puppy to different environments, sights, sounds, humans and other animals and making sure your puppy is happy and safe throughout the whole time. Your goal should be to make sure that your puppy creates a positive impression of the world.

The primary socialization window covers 3 weeks to about 13-14 weeks. It is a pretty short time-frame, which means that whenever you adopt your puppy, socialization must be at the top of your “To do” list. Make sure to take your pup to safe places that are generally quiet. Busy streets or crowded parks may not be the best option, especially when you’ve just begun socializing your puppy. 

Remember to observe her mood at all times. You should make sure your puppy doesn’t get anxious or fearful. If you notice something that scares your pup, let him observe it from a distance and give it treats to help him create a positive association with that experience. Try to make a list of the things that make your puppy uncomfortable so that you can work on them later on.

Image illustrating three puppies and the importance of early puppy training.

Prevent separation anxiety

Dogs are social creatures. Studies have shown that dogs tend to form loose-knit social groups, which means that they purposely choose to be in the company of their kind. Therefore, in a world controlled by humans, your puppy will look towards you for company and affection. At the moment, you will be their sole provider of companionship. So, it is extremely important that you introduce them to the state of being alone very gradually. If you leave your puppy alone for long periods of time, they will surely develop separation anxiety.

As you train your puppy to get used to being alone, crate training can be helpful as well. Try to take some days off work when you first adopt your puppy. As you spend time with your pup, try to help him get accustomed to being alone a little by little. You can play with your pup and once they’re tired, you can put them in their crate or pen, give them a toy and sit nearby doing something else. Gradually increase the distance, as well as the length of time you spend out of his sight. Eventually, your puppy will understand that even though you may leave from time to time, you are not leaving her behind. This will help your puppy grow confident and independent, successfully preventing him from developing separation anxiety for when you leave home to go to work.

Potty training

Potty training includes teaching your puppy to relieve himself in designated places. It is a very important part of puppy training and it requires extra careful management. In a nutshell, you are supposed to observe your puppy and never let them eliminate anywhere other than the designated place. During this simple but not too easy process, leashes, crates and exercise pens may come in handy. You should try to teach your puppy that “outdoors” or “sod box” mean “bathroom time”. The key is to take your puppy to the designated potty place more often than she has to go. We recommend that you do so every hour of the day. Make sure to reinforce him when he does eliminate, so that he creates an association between relieving himself and the potty spot. 

Make sure that you introduce your pup to different surfaces as well, especially if you are training him to relieve himself outdoors. Puppies tend to develop preferences. For example, if you only teach them to go on dirt, you might find out later on that they refuse to go on grass or gravel if dirt is not available. Also, when your puppy finishes his business, make sure to play with them for a bit. That’s because if your puppy learns that eliminating will make playing outside come to an end, he may try to “hold it” for as long as possible in order to get more play time with you.

Remember that most puppies usually need to go to the bathroom quite soon after eating or after strenuous activity sessions. If you see that your puppy made a mistake, make sure to not react by yelling at him. Instead, say something like “Oops! Sod Box!” or “Oops! Outside!” and then take your puppy to finish their business in the designated potty spot. If you react harshly when your puppy makes a mistake, he may learn that it’s best to hide from you when he has to relieve himself.

Image illustrating puppy training to teach your puppy to chew on designated toys

Teach him to chew on designated objects

Similarly to substrate preferences, your puppy will develop a liking towards certain objects he can chew on. If you take care of your puppy’s environment and allow him to only chew on designated objects and toys, you will be able to give him house freedom much sooner. Make sure to give your pup different types of chew toys at first, until you see what they like. Remember to keep those types of toys around even after they grow up, as dogs will always have chewing needs. 

Typically, you should keep training your puppy to chew on specific toys and then, you should give them house freedom for certain periods of time. Observe them during these periods and make sure to gently stop them if they try to chew on other objects and always give them their designated chew toy back, so that they create proper associations. Repeat this process until you are confident they can roam around the house without chewing on things.

Teach your pup a quick recall command

Recall training is one of the most important parts of puppy training. Not only does recall training help keep your puppy from getting lost, but it can also protect them from dangerous situations. Also, if you want to let your puppy play in areas where dogs are allowed off leash, a recall command will help you keep your pup under control. Letting your puppy play around and use their energy is extremely important for their mental and physical wellbeing. 

At first, you should use the recall command followed by a reward or “positive” experience for your pup. For example, you can call your puppy to come to you and then let them play with their favorite toy or give them a really nice treat. Other times you can give lots of affection, cuddles and pets to your puppy when he comes back to you. Never use the recall command to do something that your puppy won’t enjoy. For example, don’t use the recall command and then give your puppy a pill they don’t like. Recall training is extremely important so make sure to try and train your puppy as often as possible.

Image illustrating puppy training for calm car rides

Teach your puppy to enjoy car rides

Whenever you want to take your puppy somewhere, for example at the vet or the park, you may need to take them in the car with you. However, if your puppy is afraid of car rides, it might limit your ability to take him to places. The problem is that for many puppies, their first car ride is often quite traumatic. In some cases, the moment when they are separated from their mom or littermates is followed by a car ride. Therefore, the idea of a car ride is associated with stress, fear, or even vomiting. If possible, ask the breeder not to feed your puppy before you pick them up from the adoption shelter in order to reduce the likelihood of them getting carsick.

If that’s not possible, you should try to change your puppy’s negative impression of car rides. You can start by simply sitting in the car with your puppy without turning the engine on. Give your pup some of their favorite toys and treats in order to make the car a fun place for them to be. Once your puppy seems comfortable with just being inside the car, try to turn the engine on. Don’t start driving just yet, and instead start playing with your pup again. Then, have someone help you drive while you play with the puppy. This will help your pup get accustomed to the sensation of the car moving. Only drive for short distances at first, and then gradually increase the rides. Eventually, your puppy will associate car rides with a fun experience, and your “Want to go for a ride?” cue will be met with happy tails! 

Reinforce your puppy’s trust

After socialization, reinforcing your puppy’s trust may be the most important thing you should teach your pup. Your pup should know that you will protect them at all times and that you will always be their advocate. Don’t allow anyone to yell at your puppy and always keep a watch on them when in public spaces. They should know that you are their person and that you always have their back. This will strengthen your bond, allowing your puppy to grow into a confident, well-behaved dog.

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