Bringing home your puppy is fun and exciting. It's also the perfect time to start training. Here's how to get things off to a good start.
Set up a good schedule. Then stick to it, says Richard Green, DVM, owner of Mont Clare Animal Hospital in Chicago. "Your puppy should wake, eat, and sleep at pretty much the same time every day -- and that means weekends too."
Feed him at least three times a day, says Houston veterinarian Brian Beale, DVM, DACVS. Take him outside often, especially during housebreaking. Try for at least seven times a day, starting with first thing when you wake up.
Be consistent and patient. It'll probably take a few days to get on track.
Teach him the rules. Your dog won't know the rules when you bring him home. It's your job to show him what to do and what not to do. Is it OK to sit on the furniture? How about overturning the garbage can? Make it clear.
Teach him to sit, stay, and come when you call him, and walk on a leash without pulling. Say things like "good boy" when he does what you want him to do.
Praise good behavior. If he waits at the curb instead of running into the street, for example, reinforce the good behavior with a quick "yes" or "good" at the exact moment he does what you want, says Jonathan P. Klein, CDBC, CPDT-KA. He's a dog trainer and behaviorist in Los Angeles.
Set up a reward system. Reward behaviors you like. Don't reward behaviors you dislike. Always use immediate consequences.
Rewards can be simple, like a doggie treat or a good belly rub. Or they can be special, like playtime with doggie pals or a game of fetch. To teach him not to do something, ignore him or take away things he likes. For example, if he jumps up on you when he wants to play, show him it's not OK by turning away. When he sits down, shower him with attention.
Ward off biting. "Many puppies try and play with their new owners' hands and feet in the same way they played with their littermates -- with mouthing and biting," says Beale. You'll have to teach him it's not OK, so don't allow any type of biting or nibbling on people, even during play.
"If your puppy does bite you, yelp loudly," he says. If he continues to mouth or bite you, step away and ignore him for 30 to 60 seconds. That will teach him that biting makes playtime end, so it should stop the behavior.
Give him appropriate things to chew on. "Remember, puppies need lots of things to chew on," says Greene. Give him appropriate toys that he can mouth, like chew toys. Leave lots of toys around so he doesn't feel the need to play with your hands or ankles.