When it comes to at-home puppy training, it’s important to be patient and take things one step at a time. At just two to three months of age, your puppy is an infant and is highly trainable if done right. So take a deep breath, relax and focus on these five training milestones during the first few months of puppy parenting.
First things first, establish a specific spot in the backyard for your puppy to go potty and guide it there on a leash every time you take it outside for the first few weeks. Sooner or later, your pup will automatically know where to go and won’t need your guidance, but this takes time and consistency. Get a puppy pad in case your pup has accidents (it will), and try not to express any anger, as this is a crucial time period for relationship building. Instead, rely on positive reinforcement and lots of practice.
Once your puppy knows its name, you can start teaching it commands like sit, stay and lie down. While positive reinforcement is the best way to go about this, try not to rely too heavily on treats as this could result in your pup responding to it as a bribe. Instead, use a mix of dog talk (“good boy!”), petting and treats as positive reinforcement after your pup successfully responds to a command.
As with learning commands, the best way to teach your puppy how to behave at home is to rely on positive reinforcement. It is only natural to get upset when your pup jumps on the couch or chews up your favorite pair of shoes, but try to understand that it won’t know the difference between what is right and wrong until it is taught. So, instead of yelling, gently correct the behavior and focus on reinforcing what is right. If chewing is the problem, get your pup a chew toy and if it jumps up on the couch, redirect it to its bed or kennel.
Teaching a puppy how to walk on a leash without pulling is one of the most difficult aspects of training, but it is also one of the most important because it can be the difference between taking your pup on regular walks and giving up altogether. Puppies need to be walked on a daily basis, which provides the perfect opportunity for leash training. When your pup starts to tug, gently pull it back to walk by your side and positively reinforce this behavior. Trust us, you and your puppy will both be much happier if you can fit in a stress-free dog walk every day. Plus, your pup is much likelier to abandon bad habits, like barking and chewing on things, if it spends some energy walking outside.
Every puppy is different when it comes to socializing with other people and dogs, but you can have a great influence on this if you take your pup to a training class or the dog park on a regular basis. Most dogs who show aggression or too much excitement around other people and dogs were never given the chance to learn how to socialize at a young age. Remember, your puppy is the most impressionable during the first few months of its life, so don’t neglect these teaching opportunities.