So you've got a lovable new puppy and want to make sure that he grows to be a well-behaved dog. You're probably aware that the earlier you begin training your dog, the better—but where to begin? For starters, think about the type of behavior you want in an adult dog. In addition to teaching your puppy to use the bathroom outside and sleep through the night, you will need to instruct him on the finer arts of not tearing holes in your clothes or drawing blood with his needle-like baby teeth. If you let him do things that are cute now, but unlikely to be so cute when he is an adult, you may be surprised at how challenging it is to break those habits later.
Tip #1 - Keep his feet on the floor. Unless you want your adult dog jumping all over you, don't let your puppy greet you on his back legs. Sure, he may not even come up to your knee, but jumping on people is a tough habit to break. Instead, crouch down so you can greet your puppy on his level.
Tip #2 - Keep your pants, socks and other articles of clothing out of your puppy's mouth. He may see loose articles of clothing as potential chew toys, but if you allow him to chew on your clothing while you are playing with him, or even just walking by, he is learning that you don't mind when he plays rough. Just because it doesn't hurt or damage your clothes now, doesn't mean it won't when he gets bigger.
Tip #3 - Teach him not to chew. Puppies chew on things to play. When you are playing with him, he will probably try to grab your fingers, wrist or other body part to wrestle you into submission. Tell him "ow" and quit playing with him when he does this. If that doesn't work after several tries, gently hold his mouth shut with your fingers for a few seconds and say "close." Repeat the process until he learns to keep his mouth shut while playing. Don't squeeze his muzzle, just use enough pressure to keep him from opening his mouth.
Tip #4 - Provide your puppy with plenty of activity. Most bad behavior in puppies is the result of not knowing the rules and having too much energy. Give your puppy plenty of exercise, including walks and playtime. If you consistently redirect your puppy when he misbehaves and reward him when he is good, he will quickly catch on to what sort of behavior is permitted.
Tip #5 - Start leash training early to ensure that your daily walks don't turn into daily battles of opposing wills! There are plenty of online resources (for example, this site) where you'll find various leash-training methods. In fact, in order to avoid potty accidents and to prevent your puppy from getting into dangerous situations, you should consider keeping your pup on a hands-free leash, tethered to you at all times as you go about your daily business around the house.
By Stephanie Dube Dwilson
About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.