How To Be A Better Trainer For Your Puppy

As a first-time pet parent, you will inevitably have many questions about how to raise a puppy, feed them, train them, and take care of them.

That’s 100% normal, of course. Like anything new, you need to learn, practice, and, most of all, be patient. I can guarantee that you won’t learn everything overnight, and some things you won’t even learn in the first few weeks or months.

That’s okay, of course, as long as you do your best to give your puppy the love and care they deserve. You will undoubtedly make some mistakes, but, like all mistakes, learn from them.

I was thinking about this the other day when looking at photographs of my very first dog.  I was in my teens and had no idea taking care of a puppy (and then an adult dog) was such a big job.

As I thought about it more and more, today’s question came to mind: how to be a better trainer for your puppy?

The answer, to be honest, could fill up several different blogs. You can do many things to be a better trainer for your puppy. You could, for example, take an online course on puppy training. 

You can also read books, watch YouTube videos and even ask a dog trainer for their help and advice. I would suggest that while you do this, you take notes, write down questions and then research the answer online (like you are doing right now). (Good for you!)

Now that you know a few methods of being a better trainer for your puppy, you probably have more questions about how to do it. What should you not do when training a puppy, for example, and what is the fastest way to train a puppy?

I answer those questions below and a few others as well. Plus, I have a bunch of tips and advice that will improve your puppy training abilities. Read on to find out more and be the best puppy trainer you can be!

At What Age is Best to Start Training a Puppy?

Although puppies don’t have the longest attention spans, dog experts recommend you begin training them with basic obedience commands when they’re about 7 to 8 weeks old. 

Those basic commands can include “sit,” “stay,” and also the very helpful command “quiet.” These commands should be followed by gentle reinforcement and small treats to connect the command to the result in your pup’s memory.

This Is also the best time to start socializing a puppy so that they feel safe around new people, especially children and adults who don’t live in your home.

If you’re going to enroll your puppy in formal training classes, experts recommend starting around the same time but, if necessary, waiting until they’re about 12 weeks old.

Keep in mind that if you decide to put your puppy in formal training classes with other dogs, they should be fully vaccinated before starting.

What are the 7 Essential Dog Commands?

There are, to be sure, many different commands you can, and should, train your puppy.  However, there are 7 essential commands they need to know and should be trained as early as possible. They include:

  1. Sit. Many dog experts recommend training your dog the “sit”  command first because It’s one of the easiest and most natural to learn. Plus, once they know how to sit, it’s easier to move on to other commands. 
  2. Lay down. Teaching a dog to lay down is essential as it’s one of the best ways to ensure they can’t run off quickly. (A standing or sitting dog and take off much faster.)
  3. No. This is a very basic, all-purpose command that every puppy should know. Most dog experts recommended “no” more than the similar command “leave it” as it’s simple and easy to learn.
  4. Stay. The command “stay”  can be a lifesaver for your puppy,  especially if you live near a busy street. Most puppies will learn the command quickly, but it can take two or three weeks to be ingrained in their mind.
  5. Come. This command is essential if you want to be able to let your dog off-leash sometime in the future. A dog that will come when you say “come” is a very good dog.
  6. Off. Here’s the thing; dogs jump up on tables, sofas, the bed, etc. Teaching them the “off” command is critical if you don’t want them to jump up on everything, including other people.
  7. Heel. This last command is one your puppy needs to know so that they don’t pull on their leash, hurt themselves and hurt you. Once your puppy knows how to heel, walking them with a leash will be a much more pleasant experience for both of you.

How Do You Teach a Puppy its Name?

Teaching a puppy its name happens rather naturally, especially if several people live in your household. The reason is simple; everyone will be using your puppy’s name to call them, say hello to them, greet them in the morning, etc.

If you want to teach your puppy its name more quickly, here are a few tips and tricks to do so:

  • When your puppy isn’t looking, say their name in a very happy and joyful way. As soon as they look, use a praise word like “good!” to let them know it’s a good thing, and give them a small treat.
  • If your puppy isn’t responding to the first tip, try using a higher-value dog treat they genuinely enjoy. A tiny chunk of cooked chicken, for example.
  • Be very consistent with your training. It might take a few days or even a couple of weeks to teach your puppy their name so keep trying until it’s automatic. Eventually, they will respond without the need for treats. 

What is the First Thing you Should Train your Puppy?

Most dog experts agree that potty training is the first thing you should train your puppy. The easiest way is to show your puppy their designated spot for going potty and verbalize it with a simple command like “go potty.” 

When they follow your command and do their business, reward them afterward. If they make a mistake, there are a few different things you should do:

  • If you catch your puppy lifting their leg or squatting on the carpet to go potty, interrupt them as quickly as possible and bring them outside. Don’t yell or scream at them because this can cause a negative connection in their little puppy brain.
  • If you don’t catch them in the act, the best thing to do is simply clean the mess and use a spray to cover the scent so they don’t go back to the same spot again. Scolding them, or rubbing their nose in it, is never a good choice. It doesn’t work and can also destroy any bonds you’ve made with your puppy.
  • Be sure to bring your puppy out regularly to go potty and let them know why you’re bringing them out. Start with the phrase “let’s go potty!”  and then take your pup outside immediately.
  • A good rule to know is that a puppy can hold their bladder and bowel for as many hours as they are months old. So, for example, a 2-month-old puppy can hold their bladder for about 2 hours. That means you should bring them outside every 2 hours so they can relieve themselves.

Final Thoughts

I hope you now know how to be a better trainer for your puppy.  If this is your first time as a pet parent, I recommend you be as patient as possible, ultra-persistent, and expect your puppy to make mistakes (especially when it comes to potty training).

Patience and persistence are the hallmarks of a great puppy trainer and will serve you well when training your precious puppy.

I hope you enjoyed today’s blog about how to be a better trainer for your puppy and that it answered all of your questions and concerns. If you have more, please see my other puppy blogs. 

I have quite a few of them, and all are filled with real-world advice, tips, and information that can be extremely helpful. Until next time, best of luck training your puppy!