There is absolutely nothing cuter than scrolling through a pet adoption website and seeing all of the puppies they have available. It’s so cute, in fact, that you may find yourself driving to your local shelter to adopt one for yourself.

Congratulations on your new furry friend!

So … now what? 

While adopting a puppy is like adding a new member to your family (that everyone will love), there is no question that they can be challenging at times. In many ways, it’s like having a furry, four-legged toddler in your home. Thankfully, puppies can be trained and grow into well-behaved, obedient dogs that will end up being your best friend. 

Training a puppy requires patience and consistency. There will be times when you might want to pull your hair out, but it can be done. With that in mind, how can you train your puppy effectively while maintaining your sanity? 

Set Realistic Goals

Puppies are like little sponges. The world is brand new to them, and they are learning more about it every day. So, it’s important not to push them before they’re ready. Most dogs can be enrolled in training classes between 8-16 weeks old. This is also a great time to start training them yourself, as they will have a natural dependence on you. 

But that period of time is also ideal for setting goals. 

Not everyone thinks of training the same. Maybe you just want your puppy to learn a few commands and to be fully potty trained. Maybe you want to be able to take them to public places, like the dog park, an outdoor restaurant, or your workplace. While other things might be necessary for bringing your dog to work, including the right supplies, the main issue is making sure they are properly trained. 

So set realistic goals for yourself and your puppy. Determine how important different aspects of training are to you, and what you expect your puppy to learn over time. By setting goals and working toward them, you will be less likely to become frustrated as you start to see steps forward. As a result, you can celebrate the small victories with your puppy, and they will be eager to keep learning so they can please you.

Top Training Tips

According to the American Kennel Club, teaching your puppy five basic commands is one of the best places to start when it comes to training. When your dog has mastered those commands, they can move on to more advanced skills. Those basics include: 

  • Getting your dog to ‘come’ when you call
  • Teaching them how to sit
  • Teaching them how to stay
  • Teaching them how to lay down

The final basic command is showing your dog how to properly walk on a leash. This is, perhaps, one of the most important training tips. Not only will leash walking develop the idea of a “pack” for your puppy but it will benefit both their physical and mental health. A healthy dog is a happy dog, and a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. If your puppy doesn’t get enough regular exercise, they may be more likely to be destructive. That can counteract all of your training efforts and might ruin some furniture or a few pairs of shoes in the process. 

Another tip to keep in mind is not to get angry with your dog if they don’t get things right. Yelling at your puppy isn’t going to help them learn any faster. Instead, correct the behavior whenever possible. Because dogs are often food-motivated, having small treats on hand at all times can be a positive reinforcement for them whenever they do something good. Just make sure you know which foods are safe and healthy for your pup, and which could be dangerous. Bananas, for example, are wonderful treats that dogs love, but the peels can cause digestive issues. 

Avoid Common Mistakes

Some tips and tricks can help train a puppy and some can make the process harder on yourself and your dog. One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that their puppy should be trained in just a few weeks. But it takes a lot of patience to fully train your furry friend. They may not be fully trained for 4-6 months. Don’t assume there is something wrong with your dog or your training technique if they don’t seem to be “getting it” right away. 

Some additional common mistakes people make include: 

  • Not crate training
  • Not spending time away from your puppy
  • Not socializing them

Being patient will also make it easier for you to establish dominance without getting overly frustrated. When your puppy realizes that you are their ‘leader,’ they will be less likely to challenge you with things like leash-pulling or jumping on you when you get home each day. 

Even the wildest puppies can be tamed and trained with time and effort. If you’re thinking about bringing a new furry family member home, be prepared to dedicate a lot of your time to train them over the next few months. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with an incredibly obedient dog that will love you unconditionally.