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Puppy Training Advice and Tips

5 min read

In all the excitement of bringing your new puppy home, it’s important to remember to start their training right away. The sooner you introduce good habits, the better it will be for both of you as your puppy beings to understand basic commands and gets to grips with your house rules.

Puppy training doesn’t just improve their manners; it’s a fun and rewarding way for you to spend quality time together and really helps you strengthen your bond. Most dogs love training – it’s a chance for them to challenge their brains, earn rewards and get lots of praise and attention!

Basic dog training commands 

Puppy training isn’t just easy, but it can also be fun and a great way to form a strong relationship with your four-legged friend. Dogs are fast learners, you can teach them almost anything, from how to ‘come’, ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and even go to the toilet, all of which will encourage good behaviour.

Take a look at our top basic dog training commands to kick-start your training routine with your new friend. 

Cool tricks to teach your dog

Training your puppy doesn’t have to just be teaching them how to sit, stay and use the garden as their toilet! But it can also be fun. Teaching your dog advanced tricks such as ‘find it’, ‘high five’ and ‘the leg weave’, can help stimulate their brain and strengthen your relationship with them. 

Learn some great advanced tricks to teach your puppy, and how to do it with our handy, guide on 5 fun tricks to teach your puppy

How to teach a puppy their name

To teach your puppy their name, have some treats in your pocket for the next couple weeks. When your puppy is not looking at you (but isn’t distracted with something interesting or asleep) say their name brightly and happily, and when they look at you, throw them a treat. 

Once they are reliably looking at you when you say their name, instead of throwing the treat to them when they look at you, try dropping it on the floor beside you so they have to get up and come to you to get their treat. 

And that is it…that is all you have to do but you have to do it lots of different places (so when watching TV or sitting having a cup of coffee, or just anytime you think about it) until they are looking at you as soon as you say their name – because it is worth their while to do so. 

Benefits of teaching your dog their name

  1. The start of reliable recall: If you can do this, you will also effortlessly teach the beginnings of a reliable recall – the most important training exercise you will ever teach your dog. Not only that, you will be far more likely to be able to distract them from anything they might be excited by, worried about or potentially reactive to.
  2. They will associate positivity with their name: You simply teach them from the very beginning of your life together that their name always means ‘good things for the dog’! Don't use their name for anything unpleasant, never call them to you for things they might not enjoy, and don’t use their name endlessly without meaning, otherwise you are just teaching them to ignore it. 

You are well on your way to a good recall – and having a dog who will pay attention to you whenever you want them to. Even better, they have learned to react with enthusiasm to their name and know that you are a great person to be with and to listen to – which is the start of a strong bond that will develop and last for life.

For more information on basic dog commands, check out our article.

Training your puppy to walk on a lead

The next step is to get your puppy used to a collar and lead. This may feel a bit odd to them at first, so be patient – they’ll get there! Fit a light collar as soon as your puppy arrives home, and practice taking them for a walk on a light lead.

If they haven’t had all their vaccinations, you’ll have to do this in your house and garden at first. They may well be very excitable, or pull on the lead when you take them out. If they are, you may want to try a gentle leader head collar. These make lead walking and basic training easier and calmer for both you and them.

There is no joy in walking a dog who drags you around all the time, and many owners don’t exercise their dog enough because it’s become a chore – especially with an enthusiastic teenage puppy. Luckily, putting some effort into teenage dog training and teaching your puppy to walk on a lead can help put this right.


Crate training your puppy

If you’re planning on using a crate to transport your puppy, keep them safe at night in the house or even to make toilet training easier, there are a few things to keep in mind that will make crate training a much enjoyable experience for both of you:

  • Make it comfortable by using plenty of bedding for your pup’s new den.
  • Introduce your puppy to the crate slowly.
  • Leave the door open and encourage them to go in and out of the crate as they get more relaxed.
  • Feed your puppy inside the crate to help them see it as a place where they can rest and enjoy positive experiences.
  • Get them used to the door being closed for short amounts of time and gradually increase the time the door is shut.

Crate training your puppy doesn’t have to be difficult. You can always make the process smoother by approaching it with patience and making sure you take incremental steps every time your dog seems happy and relaxed. Check out how to use puppy training to help them adjust to the new sleeping arrangements with our article.


House training your puppy

Toilet training is an important step in the life of any puppy. Luckily, dog owners have been helping their dog form this useful habit for a while now, so there are plenty of helpful tips you can use straightaway:

  • Establish a toilet area and take your puppy there often until they figure out what the area is meant for.
  • Use plenty reward and praise when they get it right, but make sure not to punish your pup when accidents happen.
  • If you live in an apartment, use baby gates to delimitate the area used for toilet training and help reduce the number of accidents.
  • Create a routine and be consistent with it (for example taking your dog to the toilet area first thing in the morning or after they’ve had their meal).

Discover the rest of our tips with our easy-to-follow guide to toilet training your puppy.


Socialising your new dog: how to train your puppy to be friendly and confident

Puppy training isn’t just about teaching them to ‘sit’ or ‘fetch’. It’s also vital that your new puppy is well-socialised if they’re going to grow into a happy and confident adult dog.

One of the best ways to socialise your puppy in a fun and friendly environment is at a puppy party. You’ll probably find that your veterinary clinic organises them for puppies that have had their first injections (at about eight weeks old) – if they don’t, they may be able to refer you to somewhere that does.

Puppy parties are a great way to train your puppy in some basic skills, as they allow similarly-aged puppies to get together for fun and games. Make sure that you find one that’s run by experienced trainers or veterinary nurses, as they’ll know how to make it a positive, enjoyable experience that will help build your pup’s confidence. If the party’s not run properly, your puppy might not enjoy it, or even feel scared – but with experienced handlers, they’ll love making friends. Check out our puppy socialisation guide for extra tips and advice.

The puppy party will probably be the first time that all the puppies have played with other pups since leaving their littermates, and many of them may look and behave very differently to the brothers and sisters they’ve left behind.

This is a very important aspect of puppy training as they’ll learn valuable lessons for life. A puppy party can help your puppy learn about:

Parties are also a great opportunity for your pup to mix with and be handled by trainers, which will build their confidence when interacting with people. The instructors will help you teach your puppy good manners, such as not being possessive over food or toys, giving them up when asked and not pushing past people through doorways. With plenty of practice at home, and a few good, healthy treats for rewards, you’ll soon have a calm, happy, polite family member who is a joy to live with.


How to stop bad puppy behaviour

Puppy biting and chewing: Although puppy nipping, mouthing and chewing is a normal behaviour, it is important for them to learn that this isn’t a behaviour that can carry on past puppy-hood. Here is how to stop puppy biting in a few easy steps.

Puppy begging: Puppies beg to essentially get what they want, from sitting and staring to whining, these are all behaviours that need to be nipped in the bud at an early age. Learn how to stop puppy begging with our easy guide.

Puppy jumping: training to stop this behaviour should be taught sooner rather than later as these behaviours can become more and more dangerous as they grow bigger and stronger. Learn all about puppy jumping and how to stop it, with our handy guide.


Puppy training classes

Once your puppy has had all their vaccinations, between 12 and 16 weeks old, they can progress from puppy parties to training classes. These are crucial for your puppy’s development and are great fun for you both.

At training classes you’ll teach your puppy basic exercises and commands like “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “come” – and you’ll also probably introduce some fun tricks like “give a paw” or “roll over”! These classes are an opportunity to teach owners as well as their dogs, and you’ll be shown how to train your pup using modern, kind, motivational approaches.

When you’re looking for a puppy training class, you want one that’s friendly, organised, fun and reward-based. There should be at least one trainer or assistant for every six puppies, so the dogs stay interested and don’t get bored. A good trainer will let you sit in on a class before you sign up so that you’re confident you’ve found the right place. If the class is over-crowded, chaotic or the instructor shouts or punishes the dogs (or owners!) or uses choke chains, walk away. You and your best friend deserve better.

Your puppy’s breeder and your veterinary practice will be pleased to give you further help and advice.

Teaching your puppy to travel

Travelling with your four-legged companion is a dream that many dog owners have. However, car travel can be quite stressful for your puppy, which is why it is important to introduce car travel safely and slowly. Puppies can travel, but different dogs will go through different experiences with this, patience is key!

The closed space, the car movement and even the engine sound can trigger alarm bells for a puppy who is not used to travelling. But there are a few things you can do to make car trips easier to bear for your pup, take a look at our guide on puppy car travelling to find out all you need to know.
Training your puppy helps to build a precious bond between the two of you, so enjoy every moment. Good luck, and have fun!

If you want to know more ways to stimulate your puppy’s brain, take a look at some great toy options, from puppy puzzle games to Kong toys, there’s plenty to keep them occupied.