How to Train a Puppy

By Melinda Weaver

Puppies are cute, so humans often let them get away with behaviors that will not be desirable when they are older. However, to get a well-behaved adult dog, you should start training your puppy as soon as you get him. Puppies learn well through consistency so start early and stick with your methods. When your dog is an adult, most of the hard training work will be done.

Socializing Your Puppy

Puppies can start learning as early as 4 to 5 weeks old. This is the best time to expose your puppy to lots of different stimuli. Since a puppy starts to become fearful around 14 to 16 weeks of age, introduce your puppy to lots of people and animals and expose him to different places and things, such as skateboarders and bicyclists. Teach your puppy not to nip at people and to sit politely for petting.

Puppy Behavioral Training

Puppies are new to the human world and need to be taught how to live by our rules. As soon as you bring your puppy home, you should start teaching him where to go to the bathroom and other simple household rules. For example, your puppy will want to chew on everything. Start teaching him what he can chew on by teaching a command like "leave it" and redirect him to a proper chew toy. Teach him how to interact with people in the family by sitting instead of jumping.

Training Expectations

By 6 to 8 weeks of age, puppies are eager to learn commands and proper behavior. Start your training program at this age because when your puppy is 6 to 8 months old, he begins to transition into an adolescent. Bad behaviors may show up again at this time. Remain consistent in your training. By 12 to 18 months old, your dog will be showing more adultlike behavior.

Types of Training

Don't use harsh punishments with a puppy. They aren't disobeying on purpose. They just don't understand. Instead, decide on your rules and enforce them consistently. For example, to teach your puppy not to jump, ignore when she jumps on you. When she stands or sits in front of you, praise and reward with petting or treats. If you do this every time, she will understand she only gets attention when she doesn't jump.

Teaching Commands

Puppies have short attention spans, so keep training sessions short and fun. Reward with praise followed by treats or toys. Always praise first. That will help you phase out the treat rewards later. As your dog gets older, you can begin to expect more. Many obedience and therapy organizations recommend waiting until 6 months old to begin advanced training. At 6 months old, your puppy can focus longer and can be expected to "stay" longer or pay attention in more distracting environments.