How To Train A Puppy

Understanding how to train a puppy is just as important as knowing what to teach him and when and where to begin. Follow these essential rules of puppy training to help you and your Cocker Spaniel get it right first time and enjoy your training sessions!

10 Essential Rules of Puppy Training

1: How To Train A Puppy - Timing

Your pup may have had a little training from the breeder (and his mom of course!), but now it's down to you, and the best time to begin your puppy's training is the day you bring him home. 

Gorgeous golden cocker spaniel puppy being trained to sit.

You won’t be able to turn back the clock so don't waste any time - let’s get to it right now!

2: How To Train A Puppy - No Distractions

To get the best out of your puppy I recommend you train him somewhere quiet, well away from distractions. You want your pet to focus on you and you alone, and not be sidetracked by the sound of the television or the sight of other family members coming in and out of the room.

As his training progresses, you can then begin to introduce the odd distraction to help reinforce and strengthen the commands.

3: How To Train A Puppy -Set Up A Daily Routine  

Dogs are creatures of habit. They enjoy routine so it’s important that you establish a daily regime for your new puppy and stick to it. It will help him to feel more secure because if your pup learns that certain things happen at certain times, he'll be less stressed and much calmer.

His routine will typically consist of sleeping, feeding, playing, as well as house training (toilet, crate training and puppy obedience, etc) and most important of all socializing. If you'd like to see a typical puppy care routine, simply follow the link.

His first night in his new home will be very scary for him (and for you if you’ve never owned a puppy before!) so I’ve jotted down a few ideas to help you both get through it.

4: How To Train A Puppy - Ground Rules

Establish and agree a set of ground-rules with your family and make sure you all stick to them.

For example, do you intend to allow your puppy up on the furniture? Will he be allowed into all the rooms in your house, including bedrooms?

Unless you set the ground rules now, and stick to them, your puppy is going to do whatever he wants to because he won't know any better...and that very often leads to getting into mischief!

If this misbehavior isn’t checked, it will soon become habitual and will be difficult to stop or reverse.

It’s important to teach your puppy how you want him to behave; give him boundaries and guidelines otherwise he'll develop many inappropriate behaviors which may cause problems when he’s older.

Here’s an example, you believe those little puppy teeth can’t do much harm, so what does it matter if he chews a little? Consequently, you let your puppy chew your old slippers or shred yesterday's newspaper, and don’t bother checking him or redirecting his chewing.

Your puppy will grow up believing he can chew pretty much anything he pleases. You really don’t want this, not only is it dangerous, an adult dog can really do some damage to your furniture and possessions!

I recommend you teach your puppy what he can and can’t chew now, before he gets any older.

5: How To Train A Puppy Using Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is where you reward your dog for his good behavior or for doing something that you've asked him to do.

Cute black cocker spaniel puppy about to be trained.

The thinking behind this is that if you reward your dog for good behavior he’s more likely to repeat that behavior because ‘nice things happen to him’ when he’s a good boy.

Conversely, if he doesn’t get a reaction from you when he’s misbehaving or he gets his training wrong, or he get's a simple 'No' from you and no attention, he’s less motivated to repeat it.

So, when you're training your puppy and he gets it right, reward him with a small, yummy treat, perhaps a morsel of cooked liver - that's Max's favorite!  

His reward doesn't always need to be food either, it can be a loving hug, enthusiastic praise or simply playing a game with him, but the reward should dispensed immediately or within a second of the conduct you want to reward him for so that your puppy's able to associate his actions with his reward.

6: How To Train A Puppy Using Tone of Voice

Your tone of voice can determine how your puppy reacts to you.

If you don't believe me, try saying, 'Who's a lovely boy?' to your pup with a deep, firm tone of voice and then again in a happy, sing-song voice and see which one gets the tail wagging!

When training or playing, use a light and cheery tone of voice (encouraging and loving), but if you need to ‘reprimand’ or correct your puppy I recommend changing to using a lower, more firm tone.

If you find your puppy isn’t listening to you during training try using a stronger tone, but don't shout, and see if that makes a difference.

7: How To Train A Puppy? Consistency Is The Key!

As with any training, consistency is the key!

Always use your chosen word for each training command and make sure that all family members do the same. Be consistent with rewarding your puppy's good behavior too and always correct him should his behavior begin to slip.

Inconsistency will only confuse your puppy and it may hamper his training.

8: How To Train A Puppy Using A Chosen Release Word

You use a command word to let your puppy know what it is you want from him, for example, 'Sit' and a release word to let him know (in this case) that he no longer needs to stay in a sitting position; a release word releases him from a previous command.

I use the word, 'Okay' but you can choose whatever word you feel comfortable with, as long as you use it consistently.

9: How To Train A Puppy - Keep It Short, Simple And Fun!

A young puppy's attention will soon begin to wander so it's best to keep your training sessions short and to the point to keep him interested and alert.

When training a puppy, keep it simple and short - otherwise he may lose interest!

You can repeat the sessions two or three times a day, but above all try and make it fun to keep him interested (and awake)!


10: How To Train A Puppy - Rinse and Repeat!

When your puppy has mastered a command, don't be tempted to drop it completely and move straight onto the next training command. You may not need to practice it as much, but I recommend you continue to use it whenever you get the opportunity, to help make it stick.

You can do this by asking your dog to sit before you feed him, sit before you put on his collar and lead, or sit before you allow visitors through the door. This not only reinforces his training and keeps it fresh, but it also helps to get across to your puppy that you are the alpha male.

11: How To Train A Puppy - End On An Upbeat Note!

Last but not least, always end your training sessions on an upbeat note.

If your puppy got it wrong, don't end the training session there, and don't reprimand him either, simply try again or use another command that he's already mastered so that you can end on a positive note by praising and rewarding him.

This way, he's more likely to enjoy his next puppy training class tomorrow! 

Yes, I know the title says 10 Essential Rules of Puppy Training, but I always go the extra mile, so you ended up with 11!

And if you want more, you'll find plenty of additional puppy training tips here and if you'd like a steer on how to set up a daily routine for your new bundle of fun, this puppy care guide has it all.





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