Five Tips to Help Train Your Puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time for both of you, but it's not without its busy moments; your new pet needs to learn what behavior is acceptable. While showing him the ropes, consider these options for training a puppy, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to help you dictate the good and bad behavior.

Before you get started, make a list of all the things you want your dog to know. Teach him basic commands to which he'll need to answer most often, such as "sit," "down," "roll," "paw," "stay," or "come." You may want to control or decrease barking and whining during this process as well. Other behaviors include leash training, not begging for food, and how to avoid accidents in the house. Once you know what you want your best friend to learn, you can decide which puppy training tips you want to use.

1. Consistency Builds Habit

When you get a new dog, you may consider training him at home. It's a great way to get to know each other and helps establish good habits in your new shared living space. A dog who naturally respects you as the leader will enjoy the learning process, too, even as you teach him what's not allowed in and out of the house. Before you begin training a puppy, familiarize yourself with the different methods available. Be sure to plan out a training program and stick with it through the trial and error. Dogs are creatures of habit, and the more consistent you are with training, the more they will be in return.

2. Lead by Example (and the Occasional Treat)

New puppies are extremely motivated by treats. A reward-based training program is a great way to encourage your dog to learn and follow commands. However, you need to be mindful that too many treats can cause weight gain, so make sure to slowly ween him off treats as he starts to perform behaviors based on verbal commands. Also, training your dog with rewards isn't the only tool you have when training on your own. Who's the pack leader in your house? Dogs are "pack" animals, and by instinct they follow the "alpha dog." Be your dog's pack leader by setting and showing him a firm example of how you expect him to behave. Use verbal praise every time he completes a command to reinforce the good behavior, as well as strengthen your bond.

3. Consult a Professional

If you feel unsure about training a puppy on your own, connect with a specialist who can give you the puppy training tips that allow you to share the lead on education. Make sure the trainer who's educating your new puppy has credentials you trust and a philosophy you can agree with. For example, some trainers may not tailor their approach to specific breeds, or might seem too invasive for your taste.

4. Take a Group Class

Another option if you don't want to work one-on-one with a trainer is to sign up for group classes. Not only will you and your dog learn from a professional, but it will give him an opportunity to socialize with other dogs. The better socialized your dog is with others, people and animals alike, the more likely he'll behave wherever you go. Ask your veterinarian or visit your local pet specialty store to help find classes in your area.

5. Have Fun and Be Patient with Your Puppy

Whether you do it on your own or with the help of a professional, the most important thing to keep in mind while training your four-legged friend is to be patient and positive. He's learning so many new things about the world around him, it can be difficult for him to remember everything he's learned. Allow him to make mistakes every once in a while; being calm and encouraging while your dog is learning is just as important as reinforcing the rules he'll eventually master.

Don't forget to ask for puppy training tips from friends, family, and professionals when you need it. Training a new dog takes patience, but it should be a wonderful time in both of your lives!

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Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform and even transform its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.

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