Training tips for puppies and dogs

Puppy training marks the start of your journey in turning your excitable puppy into a loving and loyal dog who will be by your side for life.

The relationship you have with your dog is like a two way street - a connection. Like in any close relationship the more you give, the more you get back. That’s why you play an essential role too.

When Can Puppy Training Start?

Straight away! If you’re getting your puppy from a breeder, it’s likely you’ll bring them home when they’re around eight weeks old. By this age your new puppy has already developed around 80% of their adult brain and over the coming weeks their brain will continue to develop further.

Your puppy is ready to learn and it’s important to make sure you’re confident and consistent from day one.

Puppies have a short attention span and will take repeated attempts to learn, but once they learn what’s expected of them you have a great opportunity to bring them on very quickly. And remember, it’s easier to do it now than when they’re a few months older, a lot bigger and stronger and more set in their ways.

Building Your Puppy’s Trust

Trust and consistency give your puppy confidence that they can rely on you, their new parent. Using their name frequently might seem simple but for them it’s a very important signal.

The other great way to build his trust in you is through positive reward and encouraging good behaviour – rather than punishment through physical force. Through the former you will be able to foster a strong bond of trust based on mutual respect and appropriate reward.

Puppies are great fun but they can also be frustrating when they don’t always do what you want. Apart from the fact they don’t speak the same language, please keep in mind they are really young and therefore easily distracted.

Be patient and consistent with your puppy. They’re still learning and will eventually understand what you want them to do.

Puppy Training Basics

Be prepared for a little coaxing, a lot of repetition, a few treats and some well-deserved praise. Once they can sit and lie down on command you’ll be really proud – showing off their new found skills to friends and family – and they’ll love all the positive attention it gets them.

Sit

Hold a small treat in front of your puppy, close to their nose (don’t let them snatch the treat from your hand) and move it slowly back over their eyes so their nose rises up. Their body should go into the sit position naturally. As soon as they sit give your puppy the treat praising them simultaneously and apply the verbal command ‘sit’. Keep practising until eventually they don’t get the treat, just your calm praise.

Down

Hold the treat in front of your puppy’s nose, slowly move it towards the ground and in between their front paws. This should encourage them to lie down to get to the treat. As soon as they lie down give your puppy the treat praising them simultaneously and apply the verbal command ‘down’. Again, keep practising until eventually they don’t get the treat, just the praise.

Walking on the Lead

It is essential that your basic puppy training includes walking on a lead. Start indoors where they are comfortable and you can control the surroundings.

The first thing to do is to put on the collar and immediately afterwards give them praise and a treat so that they realise that wearing the collar is a good thing.

Place a few healthy treats in a bowl on one side of the room, and let them walk next to you on their lead, towards the bowl. Next, try walking with a treat in your hand and your puppy alongside you on a loose lead, using the treat as a lure.

Gradually build up this process; avoid pulling on the lead as they may resist and you’ll end up playing tug of war with them. Once comfortable indoors, begin training them to walk on a lead in the garden, if you have one. Remember to be patient and to praise them when they get it right. You know that walking on a lead is nothing to worry about, but they won’t until they are shown otherwise.

The Food You Choose Can Help With Puppy Training

When choosing a puppy food, look out for an ingredient called DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). This is a naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acid that is a key building block in the development of the brain. When included in their diet, DHA helps puppies learn and be more trainable. All EUKANUBA Puppy and Junior foods have appropriate levels of DHA to give your puppy the best possible start during their early years and beyond.

Puppy Training Classes

Most of us with dogs at EUKANUBA have used puppy training classes at one time or another. A good class is great fun, useful and before you know it your puppy will be obediently answering to every instruction…well, almost every instruction. We’ve put together a handy guide on what to look for in a puppy training class.

Training Your Adult Dog

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether you’ve just adopted a new adult dog who needs a little help with the basics, or if a dog you’ve brought up needs a little reminder – here are a few tips on training an adult dog.

Consistency is Key

Whatever behaviour issues you might be facing with your adult dog, the basic training principles which apply for puppies will still apply. Training an adult dog who is set in their ways might just take a bit more time and patience.

First and foremost, it’s vitally important to be consistent with your commands and your praise. It’s also worth making sure that all members of the household know your training goals and how to use the commands properly, as otherwise your dog could receive mixed messages which can be confusing.

Praise Rather Than Punish

Dogs learn by positive reinforcement. That means you’ll only achieve your goals by praising the behaviour you want to encourage and teaching your dog what good behaviour is. Punishing your dog for bad behaviour is only likely to cause them to behave more unpredictably, and will make it more difficult to train them the right way.