This article was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Zara Lewis
6 Tips for Training Puppies Younger Than Six Months
There are a lot of people who believe that you shouldn’t start training your puppies until they are six months old. Although this opinion has some value, there is one simple fact that makes it somewhat irrelevant – the puppies are learning new things since day one, whether you have something to with that or not.
All the bad habits they get during this important period will continue to follow them throughout their lives and will be much harder to correct in years to come. So, let’s see what you can do to avoid this common mistake and offer your puppies the best upbringing they can get.
Think about socialization
Most of the dog behaviors we consider “bad” are nothing else than manifestations of fear, stress, and anxiety, which, in turn, are caused by dogs’ lack of ability to handle exposure to new things and situations. That is why you should start introducing your puppies to such situations as early as possible. So, show them to your friends, let them be petted by other people, expose them to the noises of public transport and let them hang out with other pets. Just keep them away from unknown animals that can hurt them.
Avoid aversive teaching methods
Punishing your puppies either verbally or physically for their behaviors based on emotions such as fear and anger we mentioned above can only strengthen those feelings. Instead, when puppies start misbehaving, you should provide them with some kind of distraction and snap them out of such states. One of the ways to do that is by cheering them up with a toy. Another is to provide them with a pleasant TENS-like tingling sensation with educator dog collars such as ET-300 , or simply cuddle them until they are calm.
Teach the puppies their names and basic obedience commands
Essentially, your first task will be to learn how to grab the dogs’ attention. Start by teaching them their names, and to avoid confusion, handle one puppy at a time. So, repeat their names until they finally look at you (it may take a while), and then acknowledge their action by saying them “Good!” and giving them a piece of food. Once you establish “who’s who” in your home, you can proceed to commands such as “Sit”, “Come”, and “Stay”. These few actions can save your pets’ lives if they end up in threatening situations.
Take care of potty training
Potty training can be a very challenging time because puppies can’t truly control their bladders and they take a lot of breaks. However, once they “leave a signature” in some particular area, they will be naturally drawn there next time. Your job during the first 3-4 months of training is to concentrate your puppies’ efforts on the potty as much as possible, and reward every successful “aiming” with tons of praise and treats.
Once the dogs grow older and become more successful at bladder control, you will be able to teach them to take potty breaks 3-4 times a day. A regular feeding schedule will be of tremendous help.
Get the puppies used to a leash
Talking your puppies out for a walk is incredibly important, both for their health and their socialization. So, use the time until they are old enough to go out (about four months) to get them used to the collarand leash . You can start as early as just a few weeks old. Here are a couple of tips that should help you:
- Keep practice sessions short; your puppies’ attention span is only 15 minutes.
- Avoid using retractable leashes since they don’t offer enough control.
- Don’t pull the puppies along and encourage them to follow you with treats.
- Wait for the puppies to start doing something positive before you put on the leashes.
Sign the puppies up for kindergarten
Puppies are very similar to kids – in order to thrive, they need all the attention they can get. If you can’t ive them that much-needed attention, you should sign them up for kindergarten. These facilities won’t only provide your pets with welcome distraction, they can also offer training sessions and create a safe environment where they can play with other young animals. Some facilities even feature interesting obstacle courses to keep your little friends fit.
These six tips should help you to get your puppies through that crucial first six months of their lives without putting too much pressure on them. You will need to spend a lot of time and effort to teach them some of the more complicated actions, but your efforts will be well rewarded. You can’t truly put a price on a loyal friend who will always be there to cheer you up.
Zara Lewis is a regular contributor at Highstylife magazine and a full-time animal lover. Originally from Chicago, she found her place in the sun in Perth, Australia. Passionate about creating a better world for the generations to come, she is a mum of two, raising them inseparably from their furry family members