Helpful puppy training tips for you and your new puppy
Congratulations on your new puppy! It's an exciting time for both you and your puppy to get to know each other, but it's never too early to start working on some small exercises to help train your puppy. You can start as early as 7-8 weeks of age.
Proper desensitizing while your puppy is young will not only help you and your puppy as they grow older, but it will also help decrease the amount of stress your puppy may feel when he visits the vet, groomer, or is being handled by others.
Most important thing to remember is CONSISTENCY!
If you put the time and effort into guiding your puppy in the right direction in their formative years, you will have a well-behaved/manageable dog in the future.
These exercises can be done for short periods of time, multiple times a day since most puppies only can retain attention for a few minutes at a time. Always remember not to push or force your puppy if he/she is becoming stressed. We want your puppy to see these as normal daily experiences. Always reward and praise your puppy to help build his/her confidence and make this experience positive.
Play with your puppy's feet! This will help greatly when your puppy is older and needs to have his/her nails trimmed. Run your hands down their legs to get them used to having their legs handled. Remember to play with all 4 paws and gently squeeze them.
Lift up your puppy's lips and look at the teeth. This will help when the veterinarian needs to check your dog's teeth as they age.
Lift up his/her ears and pretend to look inside. Lift up his/her tail and look at his/her bum. This will help him/her not be afraid when the tail is picked up to have a temperature taken or hind end examined.
Give daily tummy rubs by gently rolling your puppy on his/her back. Be careful not to keep him/her there too long as some puppies can become easily stressed.
Give daily "hugs" where your one arm wraps around the chest and the other around the hind end, to get them use to being a restrained position when going to the vets. This position is good to use when you need to settle your puppy if he/she becomes too rambunctious.
Encourage other people to safely handle and hold your puppy. You want to teach your puppy that it's ok to be handled by other people and help them gain a little independence.
Safely socializing with other animals, people, children, objects and places will help your puppy see that the world isn't that scary and that meeting and going new places can be a fun adventure. Take them on car rides to fun places, even if around the block, it will help them not fear the car and be less inclined to get car sick.
Remember; always be patient with your puppy. :) Their attention span is fairly short when they're young, so try to keep training sessions short and sweet. Formal dog training has traditionally been delayed until 6 months of age. Actually, this later juvenile stage is a very poor time to start. The dog is learning from every experience and delaying training means missed opportunities for the dog to learn how you would like him to behave. During the juvenile stage, the dog is beginning to solidify adult behavioral patterns and progresses through fear periods. If for any reason, you're having a hard time with your puppy or they're displaying any aggressive tendencies, this is the time to correct the behavior. DON'T WAIT! Contact your local dog trainer or ask your veterinarian for recommendations.