Congrats! Your adorable li’l bundle of fur is finally home. Now it’s time to train your pup like a pro with our essential puppy training techniques and tips for three important topics:
How to Housetrain Your Puppy
Most experts suggest potting training a puppy when they’re between 12 and 16 weeks old.
Before you begin, though, set your puppy up for success by giving them a confined space in your house, whether that’s in a crate, a small room with a baby gate or on a tethered leash, so you can keep an eye on them and prevent accidents.
Create a Regular Feeding Schedule and Take Away Food Between Meals
Most puppies need to eat three to four times a day, so feed your furry friend delicious, specially formulated IAMS™ Puppy Food at the same times every day. The food is easy to digest and will help keep your puppy’s potty breaks on a fairly predictable schedule, which is a win-win for both of you.
Take Your Puppy Outside Often
We recommend every hour or two at first, depending on your pup’s breed and size. Also take them out right after they wake up in the morning or from a nap, after they eat or drink and after play sessions.
Pick Up Your Pup’s Water Bowl before Bedtime
Removing access to water two hours before bed time and scheduling a bathroom break right before bed will help your li’l baby sleep through the night. Most puppies can sleep about seven hours without having to go. But if your puppy does need to go out, be low-key about it. Take them outside, allow them to go and put them right back in their sleeping space.
Pick a Potty Spot Outside
By taking your puppy on a leash to the same spot every time, you’re saying to them, “This is where you do your business.” The scent in this spot will encourage them to go. Also, use a consistent phrase like “go potty” as your puppy does their business. Eventually, that’s all you’ll have to say to prompt them.
We recommend using a leash so your puppy knows exactly where they need to go and doesn’t get distracted on the way — which, of course, is what puppies do.
Reward Your Puppy Every Time
Give your little pooch lots of praise after they do their business so they learn your expectations. You can also give them a treat, but do it immediately after they go so they associate the treat with the behavior. Going for a walk around the neighborhood is another great way to reward them.
How to Keep Your Puppy from Nipping and Biting
While playing with your puppy is fun for both of you, it’s important to teach your puppy that they aren’t allowed to nip at your clothing or bite your skin. Here’s how to do it:
Tell Them “Owwww!”
A great technique to nip puppy nipping is to say “ow!” in a loud, high-pitched voice. This gets your puppy’s attention because it mimics the yelp a mother dog and littermates use to say, “Hey, you just hurt me.”
Teach Them That Nipping Ends Playtime
Every time your puppy nips or bites you while playing — or any other time for that matter — gently remove yourself from their grip, quietly turn around and walk away. This says to your little guy or girl that biting is not an OK way to play.
Put Your Pup in Time-out
If your puppy keeps biting after you say “ow!” or walk away and ignore them, they might be overstimulated or overtired. If so, gently put your puppy in their crate or room for a little while so they can calm down or sleep.
Give Your Puppy Something Else to Chew On
If you don’t want your hands, fingers and toes to be chew toys, then always have a puppy chew toy handy. This distracts them from the biting behavior and teaches them what’s acceptable to chew on, especially when they’re teething and gnawing to make their gums feel better.
Tire Them Out with Exercise
A tuckered-out pup has less energy to nip and bite, so give them the right amount of physical activity and playtime every day. See how much exercise our experts recommend.
Reward Them for Not Biting
Whenever your little friend plays politely and doesn’t bite you or others, don’t forget to praise them, give tons of affection or perhaps offer a tasty treat.
How to Teach Your Puppy to Walk on a Leash
No doubt about it: One of the most important things you can do as a new puppy parent is teach your dog how to go on a well-behaved walk with you on a leash. Here’s how to get started:
Get Your Puppy Used to a Collar and Leash
Start inside your house by putting on your pup’s collar or harness for short periods when you’re playing with them and giving them treats, like pieces of tasty IAMS™ kibble. After your puppy is comfortable with their collar or harness, attach the leash and let them drag it around
Begin with Short Indoor Training Sessions
Start with simple walks around your house. Teach your puppy to walk next to you with a loose leash, praising and encouraging them with small pieces of dry dog food.
Take the Lesson Outside
As your pup gets the hang of indoor walking, it’s time to take your leash training outdoors, preferably in your backyard if you have one. Keep your puppy focused during each brief session and encourage them to stay right next to you without pulling, lunging or stopping while they’re on the leash.
Go for Your First “Big Walk”
Now’s the time to put your training into action. Start out with a short walk and work hard to keep your pup close by your side. You’ll also need to keep them focused because they’ll be distracted by all the new sights, sounds and smells. Be patient, keep your pace slow and give them plenty of chances to sniff around and do their business.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice really does make perfect. So keep praising and giving your little friend occasional treats until they learn the leash-training routine and become a well-mannered walking partner for life.
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For some dogs, a simple fence isn’t enough to keep them in the yard. Maybe you’ve got a little escape artist that’s too smart for their own good. Maybe you’re raising a brave explorer who loves to get lost. Or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to have your dog stolen from their own backyard. Creating a safe and secure space to keep your pet can be a challenge, but we’re here to help. Understanding the common reasons dogs get out and what you can do to prevent it from happening goes a long way toward keeping your furry friend safe.
Why Does Your Dog Want to Escape?
Securing your yard starts with understanding the impulses that drive your dog to see what’s beyond your property. Spaying or neutering is an important first step in curbing a dog’s desire to roam, but there may be other factors at play. Creating a safe yard for a lonely Labrador in search of a friend is an entirely different exercise than securing a burrow-happy beagle on the hunt for a squirrel. We’d recommend trying to learn as much as you can about your dog’s breed and underlying instincts. The most common reasons dogs try to escape are:
- Feeling socially isolated
- Lack of stimulation (think toys)
- Desire to escape something that scares them, like thunder
Countering these behaviors starts with understanding which one is at the heart of your dog’s desire to break free. Once you’ve got a theory of what’s motivating your pup, it’s time to give your safety measures a second look.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Secure in Your Yard
Microchip Your Dog and Scan Their Nose
If your dog is committed to getting out, your most useful tool will be the ability to track and locate them wherever they’re found. There are a huge variety of products and services designed to help you keep your dog safe, but the most important thing you can have is a plan. You’ve most likely heard of GPS tracking chips that can be implanted in your pet, but you may not know that you can also scan their nose. Through a new app called NOSEiD, you can capture your dog’s unique nose print, which will give whoever finds them a faster, simpler way of reuniting the two of you. It’s that easy! Just download the app, call your pup over and start scanning.
The Best Defense Is a Good … Fence
Even though they’re not technologically impressive, a sturdy wooden or metal fence still plays an important part in protecting your dog while they’re in your yard. Not only does it keep your dog from wandering, it also keeps unwanted animals and people away from your dog’s space. If your dog can leap over it, you’ll obviously need to raise the height, or you can add an overhang that makes it harder to clear. You might also consider planting some shrubs along the inside of the fence to discourage jumping. If your dog is burrowing beneath your fence, consider adding a barrier beneath it or putting a bumper collar on them, which makes it harder to squeeze into small spaces.
If you have a particularly territorial dog, you may want to cover any open spots in your fence that your dog might spy adversaries through. A solid fence may help them feel safe and diminish their need to patrol their surroundings.
When it comes to electric fences, using one successfully depends on your dog’s personality. If your dog has recently been ignoring the electric fence, you may want to consider retraining them or investing in a physical barrier.
Make “Yard” Mean “Yay!”
Making your yard a dog-friendly and entertaining space is a huge part of keeping your dog safe at home. With enough toys, space to burn energy and ideally a friend to play with, your dog won’t have any reason to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. A few popular dog-pleasers you may want to provide are:
- A bit of shelter or shade
- A source of water
- A rotating lineup of toys
- Their favorite playmate (you)
Use Your Yard Wisely
Last, but not least, if you leave your dog unattended for a long period of time in your yard, there’s a good chance they will get bored and look for a way to burn off some energy. To prevent them from getting mischievous, limit the amount of time they’re out on their own, and check in frequently. Also, for dogs with separation anxiety or that may be afraid of loud noises, your presence will help keep them calm and close to home.
With your dog chipped or their nose scanned, you’ll always have an option in the event that your dog strikes out on their own. Beyond that, understand what makes your dog unique and check your yard’s safety features regularly for holes or weak points. As usual, a little preparation now can save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.
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