- Gemma Johnston
What Should I Be Teaching My New Puppy?
Updated: Apr 15, 2021
There are many things to teach a new puppy! What you should be teaching should be determined by your goals & expectations for the dog. Ask yourself the question, what would I like to do with my puppy? Or what would I like my puppy to do as an adult dog?
Remembering these goals are the end picture.
There can be many steps we must take beforehand in order to achieve those goals. As a dog trainer, I see many owners wanting to jump the many steps & go straight to the end picture.
I also see many owners believe their young puppy is very well behaved already. When in reality, the puppy see’s you as their whole world at the moment. Wait for them to mature, & the rest of the world will become more exciting than you. Making all their obedience go out the window later down the track
Sit, drop & roll over are NOT on the top of the list. While you'll want your puppy to be able to do these as an adult dog, they are easy to teach & can wait, there are more important things to address first. Still work on basic obedience, mouthing, toilet training & all the basics. What I want to talk about are skills to make everyone's life easier.
Food Drive & Luring is of utmost importance! To many owners are quick to teach their puppy too wait for it's food before it even knows how to move & follow the food. If your dog thinks it must always stop & wait to obtain food, when you try to teach them behaviours later that require them to move & be active to obtain their food, they will be extremely hesitant. This makes training harder. Teaching wait is very easy & can be done later.
Teach them how to follow food, how to move to obtain food. Also known as luring. How to move their body into different positions, over different objects & surfaces. If they desire following food, you'll be able to do a lot with your dog.
Recall should be started immediately. While your puppy might follow you around, well like a puppy dog, making a habit of a formal recall (Sit in front) on leash will make it clear to your puppy on what exactly recall means. As discussed above, eventually the world becomes more exciting. Setting your puppy up for success now, will help you to avoid these disasters later. Don’t be to quick to remove that leash until you know your dog will come back no matter the distraction
Crate Training is also important. This teaches your puppy how to settle & be calm. It sets them up for a great start in toilet training, as you can place the crate in your room so you can immediately attend to their toileting needs in the middle of the night. It allows you too have some down time, puppy is safe & secure while you rest or get chores done. If puppy is away safe, they cannot get up to mischievous behaviours that turn into bad habits while you’re not supervising them.
Its also a safe place for your dog, if there are trades people working on your house, a house party with to many hazardous things going on, if they are scared of thunder or fireworks or if you have a genetically anxious dog. Its their haven physically & mentally. It makes traveling easier & safer with car crates & vet visits less scary if they can chill in their crate at the clinic.
Toy Drive & Play is great to develop. If your puppy desires toys, you can use these as rewards for good behaviour later on, making training easier. Its also a great outlet for those super energetic & mouthy puppies to release all their natural instincts onto. Just remember, toy play should be an activity done with you & puppy. Allowing puppy to pick at & destroy every toy isn’t playing. Have toys that are special for just you & puppy that only come out the toy box for training & development.
Habituation! This is different to socialisation. This is where the puppy or animal is neutrally exposed to everyday things & is not bothered or phased by it. It does not over excite the puppy or make it scared, concerned, defensive. It simply can go about its every day life & enjoy itself with these everyday things.
Examples of these things are, bikes, thunder, fireworks, trains, trucks, busy roads, loud music, wind blowing objects around, prams, people of all shapes & sizes, cafes, farms, other animals. The list goes on & on. What ever you want your puppy to be okay with, its best they habituate to it. This must be done correctly! Slow, steady & short, ending on a positive note! If you overwhelm puppy, this is negative, and will not get the results you desire.
Don’t let your puppy free for all, run around with other dogs & puppies, for hours on end all the time. This causes many bad behaviours or behavioural issues. Your puppy will become overly excited when seeing every other dog thinking its play time. Some puppies are bullied, causing aggression or fear issues. Others become over aroused causing aggression issues. Play should always be short, in moderation & with compatible dogs/puppies. They don’t need to be friends or compatible with every dog. Teaching them to come sit down & chill out in the presence of other dogs is also important.