How to Train Your Puppy



November 12, 2020

Ah, puppies. Those little bundles of joy we welcome into our homes, knowing that the first couple of months will likely be a hot mess while we get things dialed in. But most of us do it, time and again over the course of our lives, putting in the work in those trying early days, and coming out on the other side with a solid routine and relationship. Not to mention, a best friend and loyal sidekick that remains with us, enriching our lives for many years. Read on, Bivvy pet parents, for some practical pointers on prepping your home for a puppy, training them, and setting them up for a long and healthy life.

Delay Your Puppy Gratification

The best thing you can do to set up a happy symbiotic relationship between the humans in your home and a puppy, is to…not get one. At least not right away. Don’t buy a puppy on a whim.  If you’re a parent of kids who have been begging for a puppy for months and you’re ready to sign on, resist the urge to have a bright-eyed little furry friend waiting for them under the Christmas tree next month unless you’ve done some serious planning. Plus, that the whole family has agreed to. Although it won’t result in the same Kodak Christmas morning moments, think about gifting your kids puppy supplies, or a gift card to pick up a puppy, and then planning as a family how you’ll take care of the pup—being very clear on what the routine will look like and who will be responsible for what—and only THEN moving forward with bringing the puppy home.

It’s important also to do your breeder research. There’s a handy checklist of things to ask a potential breeder here. For example, does the pup know any commands yet, or do they have a bathroom schedule? Make sure the breeder is reputable. And if you’ve got your eye on a pup, perhaps ask to meet the parents! A good breeder should have no problem with this. Observe their temperaments. The way they look and act is a good indication of how your puppy will turn out. Ask if the parents have had any health problems. And the breeder shouldn’t let you take a puppy until they’re at least eight weeks old. If they do, they’re not reputable.

Puppy Potty Academy

So…you’ve laid the groundwork by making sure your home and family are puppy-prepped and you’ve found a quality breeder, and your new little bundle of joy is now home. When potty training, pads are a better way to go than laying newspaper out on the ground inside. They’ll do a better job of absorbing any mess and keeping the scent from soaking into your carpet. Puppies need a schedule when potty training. Take him or her out first thing in the morning, last thing at night, every 30-60 minutes, and 20-30 minutes after they eat, and when they wake up from a nap. Smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms, which means they’ll need more trips outside. When potty training your puppy, give them fixed meals, not access to food all the time. Experts say it takes four months to a year for most puppies to be completely house trained, so be patient!

Obedience Training

Positive reinforcement is going to be your best friend when training your puppy. That and patience. Even if you don’t have high obedience expectations for your little one, the AKC suggests that your life, your puppy’s life, and their relations with other animals and people throughout their lives, will all be better if they are taught as puppies a few basic commands: a recall (or “come”), walking on a leash without pulling, sit, and stay.

Use a high-value treat, something other than their everyday snacks, as a training reward. And according to many experts, short, positive spurts of training are most effective for puppies. We’re talking 5-10 minutes, always ending on a positive note. The AKC doesn’t recommend ever forcing your puppy into a “sit” or a “down.” If your puppy’s not making progress, try using something tastier or more interesting as their reward, and if they’re getting frustrated or being stubborn, slow the pace of your lessons.

Few Z’s Will be Caught

Expect to very much not get a full night’s sleep for your puppy’s first several weeks in your home. He or she is in a new place and wondering where her parents, littermates, and humans from her formative days are. Plus, allll that puppy energy. We can’t exactly fault pups for not sleeping like perfect little cherubs for the exact block of time we want them to. Trying to get your puppy to sleep in your room, or even in your bed, may be tempting, but their tiny bladder and tiny snout with all those things to investigate, won’t be a good mix early on. A crate is a great idea. Get a high-quality one, maybe put a cover over it to make it feel cozy and den-like, do anything you can to make it your pup’s safe/happy place, and let them sleep in there until they’re a bit more mature.

It’s up to you to keep your pup healthy and fit from a young age. And making regular vet visits a thing ASAP puts you in the best position to give your puppy a long and happy life. These visits can add up, but…take it from us and pet parents around the U.S.—getting dog insurance like Bivvy’s in place when your pet is young is a smart move, and is often a money-saver in the long run. Bivvy dog insurance covers illnesses, accidents, hereditary conditions, emergency care, and more.

So, put in the proper work when puppy training! Make sure you, your home, and your family are prepared. Be thoughtful about it. Persevere with your pup through the learning curve. And savor it all, as you and your dog cement a bond that will bring you both joy and meaning for years to come.

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