Preparing Your Puppy for Training Success the First Week

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Mikki Hogan, dog trainer and publisher of is an avid dog lover to the extreme. She works actively in animal rescue, fostering special needs dogs as well as whole families and enjoys filling all her time with animal activities. When she's not busy with her dogs Mikki enjoys spending time with her family, writing for the net and socializing on FaceBook.
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Perhaps the most important aspect in training your puppy occurs during the first week at your house. It’s a new environment, new family, new everything and your puppy will observe his surroundings to see how things are done. Everything your puppy is allowed to do during this first week outlines acceptable behavior in your house. That’s why it’s the best opportunity for starting your puppy out right in regards to good behavior.

Preparation is key when it comes to that first week, both physically and mentally for the entire family. There are steps you need to take before you bring your puppy home to ensure your rules are set and obeyed.

Before you bring him home

Bringing home a new puppy is a very exciting time, especially if you have children that are anticipating his arrival. But keep in mind the first week at home your new puppy is learning the rules, meaning if you let him jump all over you, run free in the house and come running every time he whines then that is what he will come to expect indefinitely.

It’s important to understand that it’s much easier to prevent a problem behavior than to change one after it becomes a habit. Prevention of unwanted behaviors is the primary goal of this first week.

To help make sure this first week teaches the boundaries and expectations you want there are a few things you should do before you bring your new puppy home:

  1. Sit down as a family and discuss the rules. Decide whether or not your dog will be allowed on furniture, what rooms he can be in, when he will eat and so on. Outline everything you can think of.
  2. Decide how you’re going to enforce these rules. Will you utilize dog obedience training online or attend puppy classes?
  3. Decide where your new puppy will sleep and prepare his space before you bring him home.
  4. Be sure to have a variety of chew toys that you can rotate on a daily basis.
  5. Have plenty of treats on hand for important training opportunities like walking on leash and socializing in a public setting.

Once your boundaries are set including how you plan to enforce them it’s time to set up the puppy area in preparation for bringing your new puppy home.

Setting up Your Puppy Area

The goal of the puppy area is to help set boundaries, establish rules and make housetraining simple. For this reason it needs to be a confined area using either an exercise pen, oversized wire crate or gating off the end of a hallway. Whatever you use it needs to be located in the middle of the family action, where your puppy can see and hear all the

normal routines.

During the first week this puppy space should be the only space your puppy is allowed while in the house so you want to make sure it has enough room for him to play.  Inside your puppy area you want a soft blanket or dog bed to lie on, a designated area for food dishes and two or three toys.

But preparation isn’t the end of starting off right. Puppies have definite needs with socialization and human interaction and there are effective, simple ways you can begin training your pup without him even knowing it!

First always remember that EVERY interaction is a training opportunity for the young puppy and therefore should always be planned for. Second, consider the following tips on making your training sessions a natural part of every interaction.

Interacting with Your Puppy the First Week

During the first week every interaction imprints an expectation on your new puppy’s brain and therefore sets the ground rules for acceptable behavior. This first week is your prime opportunity for eliminating dozens of bad behaviors BEFORE they ever happen. To begin look at your puppy from the perspective that he is already grown up and big and decide on what behaviors would be unappealing in an adult dog. To suggest a few:

  • Jumping – 99% of the people who meet your dog won’t like this
  • Barking and whining – while they are young many new owners cater to their whining and barking for attention. At 2yrs old those same behaviors are loud and distracting, often resulting in frustration and negative interactions.
  • Running in the House – While small this is often overlooked and “cute” but imagine that 30 pound dog charging through your living room and knocking over lamps!
  • Darting out Doors – Very few puppy owners think to prevent their puppies from darting out the doors, especially since they are housetraining but the reality is they are learning acceptable behavior and you don’t want your grown dog running out a door and taking off just because it’s opened.
  • Biting your hands – Sometimes those tiny puppy bites are ignored because they are not rough or painful. Always remember they will grow up and bite harder.
  • Rough Play with Kids – Children LOVE to get on the floor and let puppies jump on them and kiss their faces. It’s a game both child and pup enjoy, but it’s a HUGE no, no.
  • Tugging on the Leash – At a tiny size you may not mind this behavior, but take a second to see your puppy all grown up. Pulling on the leash is a learned behavior just like everything else and is easier to prevent than teach them to stop.

When deciding what to include in your list of rules always think of it in terms of an adult dog, not a puppy. Puppies are cute, fun and exciting, all traits whose charm dissipates in older dogs. If you decide on rules, plan every interaction and take advantage of resources such as private dog training you’ll have fun with a puppy that won’t grow into a terror.