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Top Ten Puppy Training Tips

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Puppy training can seem overwhelming. There's so much for a new puppy to learn. Not to worry! The following tips can help you navigate puppy training, so your new pet will become a happy and healthy member of your family.

1. Socializing

Socializing is just what it sounds like - getting your puppy out and about to experience new people, places, and situations. Puppies that are well socialized tend to become more well-adjusted adults. Many of the most common behavior problems we see in dogs, such as aggression, fear, and excessive barking, can stem from a lack of proper early socialization.

2. Housebreaking

Most new puppy owners put housebreaking high on their list of priorities. Get your puppy off to a good start by putting him on a schedule. If he is eating at regular times and being taken outside frequently, you will be well on your way to housebreaking the new puppy.

Keep in mind that punishment, such as scolding or rubbing a pup's nose in his mess, does not usually have the desired effect. A better method of housebreaking a puppy is to reward him with praise, treats, and playtime when he relieves himself in the right spot. A crate can also be a helpful housebreaking tool.

3. Crate Training

A crate is used to confine a puppy when you are unable to supervise him. If your puppy is given enough time to become comfortable in his crate, it may become one of his favorite spots. Crates allow you to prevent your puppy from developing bad habits, like inappropriate chewing or soiling.

Crates are also good tools for housebreaking. Most dogs will not relieve themselves in the same place that they sleep. If your dog is crated when he isn't outside with you or under your supervision in your house, chances are he will never develop the habit of going potty indoors.

4. Confinement

A puppy shouldn't be kept in his crate for more than a few hours at a time. Even when you are home to supervise him, however, he shouldn't have the run of the house right away. There are too many things in a house for a puppy to chew on or hide under. Confining him to a kitchen or another small room with a door or baby gate can go a long way in preventing your puppy from developing bad habits. Remember, a puppy who gets the opportunity to do something he finds enjoyable - gnawing on your furniture, for instance - is more likely to repeat the behavior. Confinement keeps him from getting these opportunities.

5. Chew Training

Puppies like to chew. This probably isn't news to many people, especially those with a new puppy at home. Rather than trying to prevent a puppy from chewing, it's important you teach him which things are appropriate chew toys.

Confinement is one of the tools in your arsenal when it comes to chew training. It allows you to prevent your puppy from having the opportunity to chew on furniture, shoes, toys, or anything else you don't want him to have.

Redirecting him to appropriate toys is another part of chew training. It's not enough to tell your dog no when he picks up something you don't want him to have. Instead, you need to redirect him to something he can have, such as a dog chew or a Kong.

6. Bite Inhibition

Bite inhibition is an important part of puppy training. It involves teaching your puppy to use his teeth gently. Begin teaching him bite inhibition by allowing him to use his mouth when you are playing with him, but end play if he uses his teeth too hard. Once your puppy learns that the fun stops when he bites too hard, you should begin to see him using his mouth much more gently.

Bite inhibition is important because it keeps you safe from those needle-like puppy teeth. It also helps prevent a serious bite from occurring when your puppy grows into adulthood. Should he ever feel the need to use his teeth to defend himself, teaching your puppy bite inhibition can mean the difference between a harmless nip and a serious bite.

7. Positive Reinforcement

Puppies respond well to positive reinforcement methods of training, rather than punishment. It's easy to get your puppy to repeat the behaviors you like by rewarding him with praise, treats, and games. By ignoring or redirecting your puppy when he misbehaves and rewarding the good behaviors, your puppy will soon be offering good behavior.

8. Basic Obedience

Puppies are able to start working on basic obedience as soon as you bring them home. Use positive reinforcement to start working on basic dog training commands, and soon your puppy will be able to sit, lie down, and come on command. These basic commands will go a long way in helping your puppy grow into a well-behaved adult dog.

9. Prevent Behavior Problems

When you are training puppies, you have the ability to teach them good behavior before they begin to develop some of the more common behavior problems. Start off on the right foot by providing your puppy with lots of interesting toys, exercise, and training. A puppy left to find his own source of entertainment is more likely to engage in inappropriate behaviors.

You can also use basic obedience commands to prevent common dog behavior problems. For instance, you can ask your puppy to sit rather than allowing him to jump up when you walk through the door. By teaching your puppy appropriate behaviors, you can prevent many of the most common behavior problems.

10. Puppy Kindergarten

Puppy kindergarten is the name given to puppy training classes. One of the best ways to work on all aspects of puppy training is in a puppy training class. These classes usually offer a little of everything discussed here - socialization, housebreaking, basic obedience, preventing problem behavior, and more. Best of all, it's done under the supervision of an experienced dog trainer so you have less worry about your puppy having a negative experience during training.

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