Cesar Milan, the famous dog trainer on the TV show “Dog Whisperer,” says people often ask him when they should start training their puppy. He always answers with, “Immediately.” The process and tips on how to train a puppy begin with an action plan and teaching them to be obedient and balanced dogs.

When a new dog owner starts learning how to train a puppy, the most common mistake made is how they worry about having the accessories and treats. They neglect planning what they will actually teach their dog.

Below, we discuss some of the most effective and popular methods and strategies on how to train a puppy the proper way. Feel free to find your inspiration in this article and apply our recommended tips on your pooch.

4 Methods on How to Train Puppies

Method #1: Step into Your Role as Pack Leader on Day One

a small dog being walked by its owner

When it comes to how to train a puppy, you should be viewed as the pack leader from the beginning. Nature hardwired puppies to follow a pack leader. Many times, small dog owners think it’s cute to let their tiny dog take a dominant role in the household.

This is incredibly harmful because then the dog sees itself as the pack leader, and it will behave badly like chewing cell phones, pulling on leashes and barking all the time. When you’re first learning how to potty train a puppy, dogs will be more receptive to the training if they view you as the dominant leader.

Young dogs can instinctively sense confidence levels, and they will push your patience to its limits if they perceive someone who doesn’t take charge. The most important thing you can do on how to train a puppy is to establish yourself as the pack leader. Cesar Milan says, “It doesn’t start when he misbehaves or at six months; you begin immediately, and you maintain it throughout his life.”

This guarantees your dog doesn’t later become such a hassle that you have to bring him to the animal shelter. Unfortunately, poorly behaved dogs will often be taken to an animal shelter later by the owner when the problem stems from improper training.

Method #2: Housebreaking Your Puppy with a Safe Place to Relieve Themselves

a cute beagle puppy

How long does it take to potty train a puppy? Because of natural instinct, most dogs will eventually learn not to eliminate in their den. Between two to four months, the majority of dogs understand the concept of housebreaking.

One of the best advice on how to train a puppy is first setting them up with a “den” that feels and smells familiar to them. After you have done this, you have to set a consistent schedule to take them outside so that they learn the habit to take their potty breaks outdoors.

Once your puppy uses the bathroom outside, reward them for their good behavior. This sets up the habit for them going outside. You don’t have to make a huge celebration of it either. Sometimes, all you have to do is give them your approval or feed them a doggy treat.

In general, you do more harm than good to punish small dogs if they have an accident inside your house. This causes them to associate bodily functions as something negative. Instead, remain patient and take them outside where you want them to use the bathroom.

Method #3: Establish a Strong Routine

a light brown dog responding to its owner's commands

Like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. A puppy especially needs a well-organized routine. It teaches them how to adapt and survive in their environment. Routines have become a reassurance to dogs. To give an example, when you put a puppy’s water and food dish in a specific place, it should remain there to reassure him. Some of the other routines you can teach your puppy include:

  • Where it goes to the bathroom.
  • What time it goes to bed.
  • What time it wakes up.
  • Where its bed is.
  • Where its toys are kept.
  • What time of the day it eats.

Never underestimate the power of routine and how it impacts your puppy’s behavior. When you start from the right place, you will have a better-behaved dog in general. The wrong teaching methods can inspire your puppy negatively in how he will fit in with the family.

Method #4: Teach Your Puppy Command Words

a beautiful corgi dog

The most important words your dog will learn include, “No” and “Good boy.” You use one word to get your point across more easily. You will want to start the praise and correction words for your puppy at around two to three months old. Along with the words, practice the words with the right tone and body language. Otherwise, your puppy will likely just tilt his head and look confused.

Method to Avoid: Training with Biscuits

a small pug dog eating a treat

When it comes to how to train a puppy has sometimes been misconstrued with always using doggy treats, and that’s the only way you can teach a puppy. You, however, would be badly mistaken if you relied on treats to positively reinforce good behavior. Why does biscuit training fail? It fails because the puppy’s loyalty to your training will be based on when it is hungry enough to listen.

Imagine this scenario: Your puppy bolts out the front door as your toddler inadvertently opens it. Your puppy shakes with excitement while running down the unfriendly neighborhood squirrel. The problem is, the squirrel fled into the middle of the road.

Despite the obvious danger of car tires making a puppy pancake, your puppy’s stomach isn’t growling for food, so he doesn’t return your call. To compound the problem, your dog also learns it can decide when it will and will not listen.

This doesn’t mean you can never reward your dog for good behavior with a treat, but there’s a right way on how to train a puppy and a way that leads to misbehavior and mischief. Instead of biscuit training your dog, try “respect training.” When your dog respects you as the pack leader, it will pay closer attention to what you say.

Bottom Line

These are some of the methods on how to train a puppy. The key principle surrounding all these methods involves firmly establishing yourself as the pack leader to create a more respectful dog. Michael Schaier, an author and dog trainer says it takes around 30 days to form the parent-puppy bond, but establishing boundaries from the beginning eliminates small problems before they become a stronghold.

Have you ever used a strong routine to train your puppy? How about some of the other methods? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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