Bringing home a new puppy is a delightfully exciting time. Puppies are wonderful little bundles of cuteness and curiosity, but all of that fun can quickly turn into frustration if you don’t get your puppy started on a puppy training schedule. Everything you do, from the moment you bring your new puppy home, is either teaching him good or bad behaviors. These behaviors will persist into adulthood if you don’t get a handle on them now. While it may seem fun and adorable to allow your 15 lb Newfoundland puppy to jump up and lick your face now, think about that same dog when he weighs 160 lbs coming in from the back yard with muddy paws and jumping up to lick your face before you need to leave for work. Behaviors like this are how adorable puppies that are loved by the whole family become dogs that are left at the shelter for being unruly, too hard to handle, or aggressive.
The first day you bring your new puppy home you need to help him adjust to his new environment. While this may not seem like puppy training, you are training your new puppy to his new home. You need to decide where his food and water bowl will be located, where his crate is located, how to get out the door to potty outside, where will his toys be kept, what time will he be woken up, what time will he go to bed, when will he be fed. All of this is very important to your puppy’s training future.
You also need to start establishing the basic rules of the house. If you don’t want your puppy on the furniture when he’s older, do not bring your puppy home and snuggle and love him on the couch. If your puppy won’t be allowed in the kitchen when he’s older, do not put his food and water bowls in there now. Everything you train your puppy on the first day you bring him home will either set him up for success or failure as an adult.
Two of the most important things for your new puppy to learn on day one is where they need to potty outside, and where their crate is inside. You will also start to teach your puppy their very first word. This word is “Gooood”. Good let’s your dog know that they just did something right and you want them to keep doing that.
To start house training your puppy you need to select a certain spot out in the yard, preferably away from traffic, barking neighbor dogs, and running children, which can all distract your puppy too much and keep them from pottying. After you have selected a quiet spot in the yard that is the first place you need to take your puppy after you get home. You also need to have a treat ready. You will take your puppy to that designated potty spot. He’s going to sniff around, but if he’s had a long car ride he will be ready to go pretty soon. Do not interrupt your puppy while he’s going, but as soon as he’s finished tell him “Goooood” and then give him a small soft treat.
This just taught him that pottying in that one spot was a good behavior. By rewarding that behavior you are reinforcing it for the future, and he will continue to want to potty in that spot.
The next thing you need to train your puppy the first day is about their crate. If your puppy has never seen a crate before it can be a little scary for them at first. To start with you’ll need a pouch full of treats. Make sure you haven’t already fed your new puppy their meal for the day. Start by tossing a treat in the very front of the crate. Let your puppy go up, eat the treat, and come back out. Next time toss their treat a little farther back in their crate. Let your puppy go in, eat the treat, and come back out. If your puppy is doing well and isn’t becoming stressed toss their treat all the way to the back of the crate. Let your puppy go in, eat the treat, and come back out. If your puppy is handling all of this well and enjoying the game toss a couple treats all the way to the back of the crate. After your puppy has gone in and he eats the treats close the door for a couple of seconds. If your puppy starts to whine or throw a tantrum do not open the door until they stop. If your puppy is okay with the door being closed go ahead and open it back up and let them come back out. Again if your puppy is having a hard time with the crate door being closed DO NOT open it back up for them. You do not want your puppy to learn that the way to get out is by throwing a temper tantrum. As soon as your puppy quiets down you can open the door and let them back out.
Once they seem comfortable with the crate door being closed for a little while they will probably need to potty again so take them back out to their designated spot, wait for them to go, then tell them “Goooood” after they have finished and give them a treat.
You will need to show your puppy where their water bowl is, and start to get them used to wearing a collar as well on their first day. Some puppies take to a collar like they were born with one. It will drive other puppies nuts. If you have a treat in your hand while you put the collar on then give them the treat as soon as you have buckled the collar they will start off with having positive associations with their collar. Make sure you have sized your collar correctly. You may want to talk to a trainer or veterinarian to make sure your puppy’s collar isn’t too loose or too tight.
You can help to train your puppy to the collar by giving them fun things to do while they wear it. Start testing out their favorite toys and have some fun puppy snuggles while they wear their collar. You will need to take your puppy right back outside to their potty spot as soon as they are done playing.
By now it is probably getting close to supper time. You will want to feed your puppy their meals in their crate while they are still getting used to it. You don’t need to close the door, but place their food dish clear in the back of their crate and have them eat in their. This helps them to have positive associations with their crate. As soon as they are done eating they will need to got back outside for a potty break.
Make sure you pick up your puppy’s water about 2 hours before bed time. This will help to prevent any accidents over night. Take them back out to their designated spot right before bed and make sure they potty before you bring them in for the night. Don’t forget to use your marker word “Goooood” after they go.
This is the very beginning of your puppy training and you’re going to need to put in a lot of work to make sure your puppy grows up into the best dog he can be, but if you get your puppy started off right on day one, it will set you up for success down the road.