My puppy always wants to chew on my hand.
Puppies understand the world around them by putting things into their mouth. Biting and mouthing are normal puppy behavior and aren’t generally a cause for alarm or concern, and it certainly doesn’t mean your puppy is aggressive. Some puppies (and breeds) are naturally mouthier than others, but all puppies should be taught not to bite or mouth people, and in general to be gentle with their mouth, also known as bite inhibition.
Young puppies are teething so always provide safe chews and toys to redirect them to those toys when they start biting you. Using bite inhibition is effective. Try this, if they bite while being playful, pull your hand back and say “Ouch” in a high pitched voice. At this point keep your hand removed for a minute then resume the game using the toy. Repeat the “Ouch” and withdraw playing every time they nip you. They will learn if they want to play that biting you will bring a halt to their fun.
How do I teach my puppy to come when called?
The foundation of all training is positive reinforcement. Avoid using punishment such as leash corrections or yelling. This causes the dog to become confused and unsure about what you are asking of him. Patience will go a long way in teaching a young dog to behave. You can start training as young as 8 weeks of age and always keep the training sessions brief (5-10 minutes).
- Sit with your puppy and say his name or the word “come.”
- Each time you say “come/name,” give your puppy a treat. He doesn’t have to do anything yet! Just repeat the word and give a treat. Easy!
- Next, drop a treat on the floor near you. As soon as your puppy finishes the treat on the ground, say his name again. When he looks up, give him another treat.
- Repeat this a couple of times until you can begin tossing the treat a little further away, and he can turn around to face you when you say his name. Note: Avoid repeating your puppy’s name; saying it too often when he doesn’t respond makes it easier for him to ignore it. Instead, move closer to your puppy and go back to a step where he can be successful at responding to his name the first time.
- Once your puppy can turn around to face you, begin adding movement and making the game more fun! Toss a treat on the ground and take a few quick steps away while calling your puppy’s name. They should run after you because chase is fun!
- When they catch you, give them a lot of praise, treats or play with a tug toy. Coming to you should be fun! Continue building on these games with longer distances and in other locations. When training outside (always in a safe, enclosed area), it may be helpful to keep your puppy on a long leash at first.
When your puppy comes to you, do not grab him. This can confuse or frighten some puppies. Important! Never call your dog to punish it. This will undo all the work you have put in teaching him to come. Always reward your dog for coming to you, even if he has been up to mischief.
How do I teach my puppy to walk on a leash?
Puppy training can be more relaxed than the “heel” command. The idea is to teach your dog to walk politely on a loose leash without pulling. You can use commands like “let’s go” or “forward”. Be consistent and use the same command every time. Also be consistent about which side you want your dog to walk on so he does not zig-zag in front of you.
- First, make sure your puppy is comfortable wearing a leash. This can feel strange at first, and some puppies may bite the leash. Give your puppy treats as you put the leash on each time.
- Then, stand next to your puppy with the leash in a loose loop and give him several treats in a row for standing or sitting next to your leg.
- Take one step forward and encourage him to follow by giving another treat as he catches up.
- Continue giving treats to your puppy at the level of your knee or hip as you walk forward.
- When he runs in front of you, simply turn in the opposite direction, call him to you, and reward him in place. Then continue. Gradually begin giving treats further apart (from every step to every other step, every third step, and so on).
- Eventually, your dog will walk happily at your side whenever he’s on his leash. Allow your dog plenty of time to sniff and “smell the roses” on your walks. When they’ve had their sniffing time, give the cue “Let’s Go!” in a happy voice and reward them for coming back into position and walking with you.
How do I teach my puppy to sit?
Never physically put your puppy into the sitting position; this can be confusing or upsetting to some dogs. There are two different methods for showing your puppy what “sit” means. The first method is called capturing.
- Stand in front of your puppy holding some of his dog food or treats.
- Wait for him to sit – say “yes” and give him a treat.
- Then step backwards or sideways to encourage him to stand and wait for him to sit.
- Give another treat as soon as they sit.
- After a few repetitions, you can begin saying “sit” right as he begins to sit.
The next option is called luring.
- Get down in front of your puppy, holding a treat as a lure.
- Put the treat right in front of the pup’s nose, then slowly lift the food above his head. He will probably sit as he lifts his head to nibble at the treat.
- Allow him to eat the treat when his bottom touches the ground.
- Repeat one or two times with the food lure, then remove the food and use just your empty hand, but continue to reward the puppy after he sits.
- Once he understands the hand signal to sit, you can begin saying “sit” right before you give the hand signal.
How can I teach my puppy to lie down?
Just like with sitting, never use force to put your dog into a down.
- Hold a treat in your hand to the dog’s nose and slowly bringing it to the floor.
- Give the treat when the dog’s elbows touch the floor to start.
- After a few practices, begin bringing your empty hand to the floor and giving the treat AFTER he lies down.
- When he can reliably follow your hand signal, begin saying “down” as you move your hand.
How do I teach my puppy to stay?
You will need to teach your puppy the “stay” cue and also teach him a release word like “OK” or “Free”.
- First, teach the release word. Choose which word you will use, such as “OK” or “free.”
- Stand with your puppy in a sit or a stand, toss a treat on the floor, and say your word as he steps forward to get the treat.
- Repeat this a couple of times until you can say the word first and then toss the treat AFTER he begins to move. This teaches the dog that the release cue means to move your feet.
- When your dog knows the release cue and how to sit on cue, put him in a sit, turn and face him, and give him a treat.
- Pause, and give him another treat for staying in a sit, then release him.
- Gradually increase the time you wait between treats (it can help to sing the ABC’s in your head and work your way up the alphabet).
- If your dog gets up before the release cue, that’s ok! It just means he isn’t ready to sit for that long so you can make it easier by going back to a shorter time.
- Once your dog can stay in a sit for several seconds, you can begin adding distance.
- Place him in a sit and say “stay,” take one step back, then step back to the pup, give a treat, and your release word.
- Continue building in steps, keeping it easy enough that your dog can stay successful. Practice both facing him and walking away with your back turned (which is more realistic).
Once your dog can stay, you can gradually increase the distance. This is also true for the “sit.” The more solidly he learns it, the longer he can remain sitting. The key is to not expect too much, too soon. Training goals are achieved in increments, so you may need to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. To make sure the training “sticks,” sessions should be short and successful.
Your time pays off in spades!
I know it sounds very time consuming but using these tried and true methods will train your dog to be a polite and obedient companion for many years to come. The training process is a great bonding experience for both of you and opens the door for more training and tricks you and your new best friend can share together.
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