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How To Train Your New Puppy

Hera the goldendoodle on the beach 13 weeks old
Hera on the beach 13 weeks old

Adding a new fur baby to your pack is a special and exciting moment but, if you have ever had a puppy before, you know that puppies are a lot of work and require a lot of training. Here are some training tips that will help you prepare for success with your new puppy. Enjoy!

Prevent separation anxiety

Dogs are social creatures and need love and affection just like us. To avoid separation anxiety you have to introduce "alone time" gradually. You can include crate or exercise-pen training during this process so your pet can be left safely confined while you are away.

Athos the Great Dane 4 weeks old
Athos 4 weeks old

What are the signs of separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety can exhibit itself in many ways and when shown only on occasion does not necessarily mean that your puppy has separation anxiety. If your pup shows more than one of the below symptoms on a regular basis, however, he may indeed have separation anxiety. Here are some ways that your pup might show signs of stress:

  • Anxious behaviors like pacing back and forth, whining or shaking/trembling when he knows you’re about to leave.

  • Excessive barking or howling

  • Destructive acts like chewing or digging

  • Accidents in the house

  • Excessive salivation, drooling, or panting

  • Desperate attempts to escape confinement

How to prevent separation anxiety

As we mentioned above, the best way to prevent separation anxiety is to introduce your dog to some “alone time” gradually. Here are a few ways that you can achieve this:

  1. Crate training - Crating your pup is not mean or unhealthy for your pet (if done properly). Your puppy’s crate should be a safe space where he or she can go to relax and get some quiet alone time. You want your pup to associate his crate with good things, not bad, so try not to stick him in there when you’re mad at him or if he’s done something wrong. Also, you should never put more than one dog in a crate at a time. Always keep them in separate crates.

  2. Exercise - Make sure that your puppy is getting plenty of age-appropriate exercise throughout the day. A tired pup is more likely to settle down when you leave than one who hasn’t been allowed to play and run all day.

  3. Training - Encourage your puppy to learn to be on her own by training them to “stay.” Start with using this command and walking a few steps away and then gradually increase the distance as your pup learns. Eventually, your sweet pup will realize that when they stay, you always come back.

Hera the goldendoodle training on mat
Hera training on her mat

Positive dog training

Supported by in-depth studies and research, we now know that positive reinforcement is the only way to go! It's important to remember that all living creatures repeat behaviors that are reinforced. If you can reinforce the behaviors you want with your pup and make sure your pup doesn't get reinforced for behaviors you don't want, you are more than halfway there!⁠

How to use positive reinforcement training

It should come as no surprise that positive reinforcement works! But, like with any training, it takes some patience and practice to use proper techniques to ensure the best results. Here are a few ways that you can use positive reinforcement at home:

  1. Use the right reward - The key is to use something that your dog actually enjoys, and dogs, just like humans, like different things. One dog might enjoy dog biscuits and another dog might not be interested in them. Find out what your puppy really likes and use that (consistently) to reward for positive behaviors.

  2. Timing and placement - Remember that puppies are just like toddlers, which means they have a short attention span. If you take too long to reward him or her they will start to get confused about what’s going on and get distracted by something else. You also want to be sure that you place the treat where your puppy is doing what he’s supposed to. For example, if you are teaching her to “sit” you want to give her the treat while she’s sitting.

Associating human touch with love

You can make life a lot easier for your pup if you teach them that human touch makes "good stuff" happen. You can begin by pairing non-invasive touches to your puppy with tasty treats.⁠

How to teach your pup to like human handling

Loving on your puppy is a good opportunity for your pup to learn that human handling is good. Start by gently stretching out his or her legs, gently opening his mouth, and pressing on the pads of his feet. Another good tip is to clip one toenail at a time and reward your puppy each time you clip.

Hera acting like a parrot
Hera taking car rides to get closer to her mom and acting like a parrot. Don't try this at home.

Car rides with your pup

It's super challenging when a pup can't ride in cars since it ultimately limits our ability on what we can do with them. Here are some tips on how you can get your puppy used to car rides from the beginning.

How to train your puppy for car rides

Riding in the car isn’t something that comes naturally to dogs. It has to be taught. Some pups catch on quicker than others and some, well, they need a little more practice. Before you actually go for a car ride, you need to get your puppy used to getting in and out of the car safely. Practice this a few times by rewarding your pup whenever he or she gets into the car and then again when they get out. Do this until you and your pup feel comfortable getting in and out of the car with ease.

Now that it’s time to actually go on a car ride, start by going somewhere close and remember to drive slowly to avoid your pup sliding around and getting sick. You can also use a travel crate or harness to safely secure your pet inside the car.

If possible ask the rescue group or breeder to start giving your pup short car rides to make it an easy transition. ⁠

Great Dane socializing as a puppy
Athos and Frekki socializing at 9 weeks old

Socializing your pup

If you are going to teach your pup anything, try and teach them that the world is a safe place by taking your pup to lots of places, exposing them to different sounds, sights, humans, and other animals. Anywhere from 3-4 weeks of age is the best way to start introducing your pup to the world. Remember to keep it positive and take it slow.

We want you to have the best experience with your new puppy. To help you reinforce these trainings, we have created a virtual Puppy Crash Course as well as private dog training classes for those who are local. Sign up for one of our available courses below!

Great Dane piercing blue stare
Athos in the middle of training at 9 weeks old


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