You may start worrying when you bring home a new puppy or welcome a new litter into your existing pack. Rest assured that you are not alone. The workload ahead and what’s required to turn each puppy into a trained family pet usually worry many owners. Yet, training is pretty manageable when you have a handy complete puppy training schedule to guide you along the way.
Puppy Training Fundamentals
There are a few factors to keep in mind if your growing puppy’s training is to go as smoothly as intended. Laying down what you need to do first, and implementing it, will cut out undesirable but everyday pup habits. These habits may include chewing, biting, barking, nipping, and potty accidents, among others.
Ideally, it would be best if you spent the first few weeks laying down the basics of your puppy’s daily routine. Equally important during that time is training in obedience and basic commands to ensure you capitalize on their rapid development phase.
Doing this means laying down a few fundamentals to help guide you along the way and consolidate all completed training. These basics work regardless of the age group in which your new puppy lies, and they are as below:
1. Embrace Reward-Based Training
Whereas puppy training styles differ by trainers in your locality and online training schools, reward-based training is surefire. High-value rewards encourage appropriate behavior from your puppy and are as simple as dishing out edible treats or toys.
This approach motivates your puppy to learn, builds confidence, establishes you as a trustworthy leader, and makes the experience positive. Your puppy will undoubtedly work hard and learn while enjoying the whole process too.
2. Patience and consistency go a long way
Puppies have a minimal attention span, are prone to mistakes, and are still figuring out the world. It means that they can easily frustrate you during the puppy training process with their lack of focus.
Your puppy will take time to master the ins and outs of the training process. Since it takes time to develop communication between you and your puppy, they may not get it right from the get-go.
The process can be much faster if you establish a schedule for your puppy and stick to it. Ideally, this daily puppy schedule includes feeding, potty breaks, training sessions, play, and nap time.
Your puppy will soon notice the pattern, and along with this will come a sense of security, confidence, and structure. These, in turn, will come with good behavior from your puppy.
3. Practice the lessons often
Your puppy needs to learn the meaning of various commands, yet they won’t if you fail to issue them. You, therefore, need to know these commands yourself first. A few brief training sessions should be sufficient to practice these commands as you teach your pup.
The sessions can range between 5-10 minutes for younger puppies and 10-15 minutes for older puppies following attention spans. They can coincide with the puppy’s mealtimes, so the meals are the rewards for passed training.
Make sure the sessions are brief, motivating, and fun, so your puppy looks forward to the next ones. When your puppy completes the recommended vaccination rounds, you can then move the sessions to different places. This location change reinforces the commands and encourages excellent behavior in all areas you take your puppy.
Key Training Areas
All training fundamentals are foundations that will pave the way for more advanced learning. With this in mind, every interaction can prove to be a potential lesson. Take your puppy through the key training areas, including crate and potty training and the ‘Sit’ and ‘Come’ commands.
1. Potty Training
Potty training should ideally kick off the day your puppy makes it into your home. Incorporating a potty schedule teaches a puppy how to hold it in and where to go when the time comes.
You can arrive at the typical potty training schedule by taking your puppy’s age in months and dividing it into half. The answer is how long your puppy takes between potty breaks. Read on to see how to potty train your puppy, which should ideally be within the 8-10 week age range.
2. Crate Training
Crate training is an invaluable tool that any puppy owner can take advantage of. It not only speeds up the housebreaking process but also creates an independent puppy, one that’s free of separation anxiety. Crate training is typically best within the 8-10 week range and is covered below.
3. Basic commands
The ‘Sit’ and ‘Come’ commands are the handiest when you begin and continue training your puppy into adulthood. The best time to introduce these basic obedience commands is during meals.
Holding some of the puppy’s food in your hand, get them to smell it before inviting them towards you as you walk backward. Do this simultaneously with the command, ‘Come,’ and your hand should be extended as you do these.
If your puppy comes, reward them with the word, ‘Good,’ and the food. Repeat the lesson by arching your hand, with some food in it, over the puppy’s nose and head. Do this as you say, ‘Sit.’ When their rear reaches the ground, reaffirm this with a ‘Good’ and the food.
Make sure the food is not dangled too far from the puppy’s head such that they don’t jump instead of sitting. You can repeat the ‘Come’ command whenever your pup follows you around for its food or water bowl. Then guide them into a seated position while saying ‘Sit,’ after which you give them the bowl.
Training by Age
If you have a younger puppy, you are in the sweet spot for it to begin training. Yet even an older pup can start by following the beginner 8-10 week training schedule. Some puppies will also have already gone through some training when you get them. In this case, fill in the lacking lessons as deemed necessary.
Some puppies will take longer than others to learn certain commands or find specific stage lessons easier to grasp. So while at it, be sure to pace yourself and the lessons suitably so you do not rush your puppy.
1. 8-10 Weeks
The 8-10 week mark is a great time to set initial anchors, establish authority, and start socialization. Other fundamentals like potty & crate training, patience, and bite inhibition have to be laid down as well.
- Potty training; your puppy needs to learn where and when to potty as one of, if not the first thing, upon acquisition. Whereas the crate can help immensely in potty training, your puppy needs additional supervision, patience, and appropriate lesson timing.
Bank on the routine and schedule you established to tap into their innate need for predictability. Create potty sessions around this schedule based on what you determined to be their potty break estimate.
Be sure to supervise your puppy so that it does not potty anywhere it wanders when left unsupervised. Crate your puppy whenever they are going to be out of sight for an extended time. Use a pet gate if you are outdoors with your puppy.
Keep granting your puppy more household access as they prove to be accident-free for at least a month and are alerting you when they need to go. Note that full house training may take up to six months.
Be sure to also pay attention to the signals your pup puts out when they need to go. These signals come long before the puppy starts sniffing and circling the place when it’s too late to prevent an accident.
Acting distracted and attempting to leave the room are common signs, even though body language may vary by the puppy. Being aware of what your puppy is saying will help you get them outside in time.
If you successfully notice, take your puppy outside to a familiar spot for them to locate a perfect potty spot. Reward them immediately, and not when you head back indoors, with a small treat for a job well executed.
Incorporating a ‘trigger’ phrase such as ‘Hurry’ as your puppy relieves themselves does wonders too. Your puppy will associate that phrase with potty time, and you will use it during intemperate conditions.
Please Remember: You shouldn’t punish your puppy when they potty recklessly since this isn’t teaching correct behavior. It will instead wreck your growing bond. The appropriate way is to interrupt them while they are still at it and get them to conclude from outside. Even if it’s too late, make a mental note to supervise them better next time.
- Crate training; is an excellent opportunity also to consolidate potty training and speed it up. Dogs rarely potty where they sleep. Know that choosing a suitable crate for your puppy is vital.
It should be expansive enough for your puppy to stand, turn around and sleep comfortably. Yet, it shouldn’t be too big for one corner to be a potty, with the alternative side being the sleeping area.
Station the crate at a favorable location such that your puppy does not associate it with banishment. It often happens when their crate is in the garage or basement and not a common area.
Crate training typically begins by putting treats within and leaving treats for your puppy to discover. Allow your puppy to examine the crate without you shutting the door as they’ll start to dread the crate.
If your puppy stays within, reward them with a few more treats. Proceed with these brief introductory phases till you see no hesitation from your puppy to enter the crate.
Once your puppy gladly enters the crate, start to serve meals from within it. You can then close the door while your puppy feeds, only opening after waiting a few minutes after they complete. Be sure to take them for a potty break immediately after this.
An alternative learning procedure is to tie a puppy-safe interactive toy with a sturdy rope inside the crate. Ensure the cord is sturdy enough that your puppy can’t destroy it.
Some of these toys are also treat-filled. Your puppy will therefore relish the good things found within the crate.
Graduate to a busy toy after a while and close the door for about 15 minutes. Stay around for a while in the initial stages before slowly decreasing the time you stick around. Eventually, you can leave your puppy crated, alone, when you notice they no longer throw a fuss.
Please remember: Don’t over crate your puppy, though, because they will soil it, and you will lose a lot of progress. Adhere to all potty breaks as calculated, and you will soon enjoy the good things too – potty and crate trained pups.
- Other essentials; include starting the journey to socializing your puppy, getting them to recognize their name, and redirecting mouthing and chewing behavior, among others.
Socializing is fundamental since your puppy will keep seeing unfamiliar faces from time to time. It would be best if you introduced them early to the idea, such that they behave appropriately when around new faces. Socializing typically begins with family and available close friends.
Your puppy also needs to become familiar with its name. Start by saying your puppy’s name whenever you interact with them. Try to get their attention whenever you mention this name. Reward them with a treat or a pat whenever they respond and come to you.
You can also encourage eye contact by bringing a treat up to your eyes before rewarding them when their eyes follow.
Please Remember: Your puppy will also be ultra curious as they explore their new world with their mouth and nose. Get a chew toy on which it can take out its instincts and not your toes, hands, shoes, and household items. Make sure they understand the difference.
2. 10-12 Weeks
- Introduce more obedience commands, which include ‘Down’ and ‘Place.’ Use a high-value reward to teach these. If your puppy has a lot of energy, introduce ‘Fetch’ and ‘Drop it’ as you play.
- Start gradually using a leash and harness; now is the right time to do so if you have not yet introduced the leash and harness. Your pup will be spending a great deal of time on these as it walks about with you. It needs to get used by wearing it around the house, with your supervision.
- Proceed with socialization, which means introducing your dog to more groups of people and other dogs. Your puppy should ideally meet other dogs post-vaccination, and they should be vaccinated too.
Begin familiarizing your puppy with everyday noises such as traffic, construction, garbage trucks, and more. Use recordings from YouTube for a start, and your puppy will soon be ready for actual sounds.
- Incorporate impulse control; the best way is to get your puppy to wait for their food and water bowls. Tell them to sit before you set the bowl down, ensuring they are calm before. Use a phrase like ‘Okay’ or ‘Break’ to release them from the sitting position.
- Introduce threshold lessons; by asking your puppy to sit at open doors, crosswalks, doorways, among other places that promise a sense of adventure.
It helps deter your dog from pulling, lunging, and tagging at their lease whenever they see something worth exploring. It’s also the best way to lead to calmer walks.
3. 3-4 Months
- Introduce more complex commands; ‘Stay’ and ‘Leave it’ are suitable. Slowly work up to command combinations and increase the duration you wish them to obey the order.
That means a longer ‘Stay’ and ‘Sit.’ Use combinations such as ‘Come here,’ ‘Sit Down, Stay,’ working on different versions to keep it engaging.
- Introduce Heel practice, with driveways and sidewalks being great places to start to get your puppy comfortable with outdoor distractions. Your puppy will often follow you at this age, and adjusting pace will get him beside you at heel position.
You can get them walking on your left without using a harness or leash and tapping into their fear of punishment. A whistle or clicker usually helps in getting your puppy to adopt this heel position.
- Proceed or begin with socialization if you haven’t already; your puppy should become comfortable with more and more vaccinated puppies.
4. 4-6 Months
- Introduce more advanced commands; outside the home and in public spaces, as they socialize as well. The front of your house or backyard can be a great place, public locations such as parks.
- Have more extended walks; that include more Heel command and leash training over more distance.
- Begin weaning your puppy off food treats; by making several commands in a row before dishing out food rewards. You can also use praise and affection sometimes, instead of food as a reward for good behavior.
5. 6-12 Months
By this age, your puppy should be aware of what all the basic commands mean, plus an awareness of good potty, crate, and socialization habits. Continue reinforcing all they learned.
- Introduce the 3Ds to reinforce lessons, as shown through Distance, Distractions, and Duration alongside the already learned commands. Increase the distance between you and your puppy as you issue orders, adding more distractions for them to work through, having them hold the commands over longer durations.
Set aside more time for practice, in safety, outdoors while also including the ‘Recall’ command, so your puppy returns to you from longer distances.
- Stick to structure at home; since your puppy is now an adolescent on its way to becoming an adult dog, they may act up if left untended. If you slack on their home structure and training, they’ll start nipping, biting, chewing, potty accidents, and other inappropriate behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do once my puppy becomes older than 12 months?
Between the 12-18 month period, you can introduce more advanced commands such as ‘Rollover,’ ‘Spin,’ ‘Go ahead,’ and other tricks such as ‘Crawl’ and ‘Wave.’
At 12 months or more, get your dog up to speed with adult dog life by adjusting training to suit your convenience.
Are online or physical puppy training classes worth it?
Dog training can be a hectic phase, especially for new pet owners. Yet having an expert guide you through it can make a significant difference in how smooth the journey becomes.
Since you may not have the time to see the whole process through, getting a hand is worth it. Online lessons are better than starting from scratch as a novice trainer, yet physical classes are best.
Does a puppy potty spray work?
Potty training can be successful without a potty training spray. Your puppy, with your instruction, can learn to potty in the exact location where they pottied before. Keep reinforcing this by rewarding them when they get the desired location right.
Does my puppy need training pads?
Training pads can work though you have to ask yourself one question. “Where do I want my puppy to potty permanently?” Most owners designate the outside of the home as a good potty ground.
Training pads add another step to the potty training process, which may be unnecessary. If you can’t access the outdoors as fast, live on a high rise, or have mobility issues, you can use training pads. Just be sure they are not a necessary part of your pup’s to-acquire list.
Although how fast most puppies learn varies, they are all highly trainable and will eventually pick up on the lessons. Training is so much easier when you have a working guide and schedule. By sticking to the manual by age group and filling up where need be, you can make the most of your pup’s formative months. With this, your puppy will eventually be a well-rounded adult dog.