We are a nation of dog lovers. Around 44 percent of households have pets in the UK, but the most popular pet by a mile is a dog.
There are thought to be around 9 million of them. That is a lot of dogs! Owning a dog can bring so much joy and they quickly become part of the family. Here are 10 training tips for your first puppy:
1. Decide on your house rules
What are the house rules? Decide early on what you are comfortable with. Where is the puppy allowed to go and where is off-limits? Will you let them sit on the sofa or sleep with you upstairs? Make a plan and stick to it. This helps to set boundaries.
2. Give them their own room
Pet owners have a legal requirement to make sure a dog has a suitable environment to live in. Keep them happy by giving them their own space. This can be a den, a bed or a cage. Dogs need a place to relax and to spend time alone and to feel safe. Adding a warm blanket and a favourite toy can also help to make them feel relaxed.
3. Have a routine
Start early with regular meal times. Make sure you give your four-legged friend a suitable diet. Each dog is different and what suits one dog may not work for another. It is fine to feed your dog a pure dry kibble diet. Or you can mix it with meat, fish and vegetables. Remember to never give your dog chocolate as it can be poisonous for them. Going for regular walks and exercise will help to install routine.
4. Toilet training
Take your puppy out to the toilet first thing. It can be helpful to take them to the same spot in your garden to encourage a habit. Each time they do their business, make a fuss of them and offer them the same treat. Dogs are clever and they will quickly learn they get a tasty treat if they go to the toilet outside.
5. Teach them to listen
It is important to teach your puppy to listen to you. They need to know not to run into the road or to come back to you if you call them. So how do you do it? Make sure you exercise your dog first and then discipline them and give them affection. Puppies can be similar to children and they will not listen if they have energy to burn. If they respond when you tell them to, reward them with treats and praise.
6. Teach them to sit
Teaching your puppy to sit helps to teach him good manners and can help keep behaviour under control.
It can sometimes take hundreds of repetitions to teach a puppy a new command. Be consistent and make sure family members are doing the same as you. Offer a treat if he listens. Practise makes perfect.
7. Never reward bad behaviour
Give lots of praise to your puppy when he is good, but never reward bad behaviour as this will only confuse him.
8. Discourage biting or nipping
Every puppy likes to chew, be it nibbling on your fingers or other items in your house. If your puppy won't stop biting, pretend it hurts and that you are in pain. They will be so surprised they should stop. If that fails, swap your hand for a toy or bone that he can bite instead.
9. Be patient and calm
Keep training sessions short. Be patient and consistent but make sure you let your puppy know who is the boss. Say no firmly if they are being badly behaved.
10. Be positive at the end of a training session
After a training session let your puppy know he has done a good job. Give him lots of praise and rewards and he will be more likely to work hard for you next time. If you’re looking for a pit of puppy love, why not place your puppies face on one our customizable pillow covers?