Why training your puppy is important
However delightful your puppy is, never forget that he’s going to grow up – and to be a happy, well-adjusted adolescent and adult dog, he needs good training. Your training methods should always be kind, calm and reward-based – never shout or hit, because that will simply upset him.
A common reason for young dogs to end up in rescue is poor training – their first owners weren’t prepared to spend the time getting them to behave properly, and often give up on them. So it’s clear that training is essential. You can teach yourself via books or the internet, but a great place to start is at puppy socialisation classes at your vets or via local dog groups.
With house training, the key is to identify the place where you want your puppy to go, take him there often, and every time he performs make a huge fuss of him, with praise and treats. Take him out frequently – after play, feeding, exercise, entertainment, first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and at least once an hour. Stay with him, so you can reward him there and then, and if nothing happens wait a few minutes before you bring him in and then try again in an hour. Accidents will happen, especially at night time. If you are there when it’s happening, interrupt him and take him out to the right place, and reward him then. Don’t punish him if you weren’t there, because he won’t understand. Puppy crates can help with house training, because he won’t go where he sleep. Finally, if you take him out for a walk, make sure you keep going after he’s done his stuff – because he needs his exercise and fun just as much as he needs to ‘go’.
Chewing is a part of puppy teething – you can’t stop it, but you can give him some good chew toys (some of which you can stuff with food or treats, so he has a built-in reward) and make sure he can’t get at anything you don’t want him to chew.
Puppy proofing your home
Getting down to your puppy’s level can help dog-proof your house. Imagine he’s a toddler and make sure the puppy can’t get hold of anything he shouldn’t – trailing wires, unstable shelves, bottles of bleach, medicines, even houseplants. If you don’t want him to have it, or it’s potentially harmful – move it! Check the garden too – look out for puppy-sized holes in hedges or fences, and make sure pesticides are locked away.
Finally remember that when you get your puppy home he is going to experience lots of new things. Travelling by car, being left alone and meeting new people for example can all be new and frightening situations for a puppy. To help your puppy remain calm in these situations pheromone sprays, collars and plug-ins are available from your vet. See our guide to socialising your puppy for more information on helping your puppy get used to different situations.