I don't teach or recommend so-called "purely positive" methods that allow misbehaving pups to continue misbehaving, instead of teaching them which behaviors are and are not allowed. "Purely positive" is fine for teaching tricks and high-level competition exercises, but NOT for teaching the solid good behaviors that all family dogs need to know, and NOT for stopping behavior problems such as barking, jumping, chewing, nipping, chasing, etc.
This article was co-authored by David Levin. David Levin is the Owner of Citizen Hound, a professional dog walking business based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 9 years of professional dog walking and training experience, David's business has been voted the "Best Dog Walker SF" by Beast of the Bay for 2019, 2018, and 2017. Citizen Hound has also been ranked #1 Dog Walker by the SF Examiner and A-List in 2017, 2016, 2015. Citizen Hound prides themselves on their customer service, care, skill, and reputation.
Unless you plan to keep your dog outdoors--and few of us do because it's not recommended--you'll need to teach your dog where to eliminate. Therefore, house training (also called housebreaking or potty training) is one of the first things you need to work on with your dog. Crate training can be a very helpful part of the training process. This includes house training as well as many other areas of training:
Effective dog training does not require many items, but there are a few basic supplies that will help make the process more convenient and effective. Choose a dog collar or harness that is suitable and comfortable for your dog. Then decide which dog leash is best for training. A retractable leash is not appropriate for dog training. You will also need dog training treats that your dog enjoys and are easy to eat quickly so the reward is more immediate. There are plenty of great treats available at pet stores or you can also use something you make at home, like small pieces of plain cooked chicken or turkey.
Just because your new dog is old enough that he should know where to potty doesn’t mean that he actually does. An adult dog has the necessary muscle control to hold it for longer periods of time, but if no one ever taught him the potty training rules then he’s the equivalent of a brand new puppy. Age should not be equated with housetraining prowess, so it’s a good idea to treat any dog new to your home as if he’s still learning the potty training ropes.
It’s best not to punish the puppy for making a mistake. Instead, focus on praising appropriate bathroom behavior. If you catch your puppy in the act, interrupt it by saying “No!” in a firm voice or clapping your hands loudly, then take the puppy outside to finish going to the bathroom. Never swat your puppy, yell at it, or try to rub its nose in the mess.
Before enrolling with a particular club contact them and ask if you can go to watch a class without your dog. This will help you decide if this is the right environment for you and your dog. Some clubs have waiting lists and you will need to book ahead, some accept people on a roll on roll off basis. Prices will vary from a joining fee and then weekly payments to a one off fee for a certain length of training.
You can use potty training pads to give a puppy a place to go inside. They are usually scented in order attract dogs to urinate on them. This can be an aid in potty training and may seem necessary depending on your situation. But, it can also cause some problems that may prolong the training period and make it more difficult. Using pads can confuse a puppy into thinking that it is OK to go inside.
Dog training classes or private sessions can also be an addition to your own training program. The dog trainer can help you improve the program and customize it to your dog's learning style. Try to be as involved as possible when it comes to your dog's training. You and your dog will be a stronger team when you are directly involved in the training process.
It typically takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained, but some puppies may take up to a year. Size can be a predictor. For instance, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside. Your puppy's previous living conditions are another predictor. You may find that you need to help your puppy break old habits in order to establish more desirable ones.
Consistency is crucial. This may mean taking time off work to be there to take the pup outside every 20-30 minutes when they are awake. Crate training will also help the 'penny drop' as it teaches the pup to hold on until taken outside. Then, be sure to stay with the pup in the yard so you are there to reinforce how clever they are when they do go in the right place.
When you have to leave the puppy alone, you’ll need to confine it to a crate. This will prevent the puppy from peeing and pooping all over your home, and will also help teach it control, since it won’t want to soil the crate. However, young puppies need frequent bathroom breaks, so you’ll also need to ask a friend or pet-sitter to stop by and let the puppy out throughout the day until it’s old enough to go for longer stretches without needing to use the bathroom.
Remember that training is an ongoing process. You will never be completely finished. It is important to keep working on obedience training throughout the life of your dog. People who learn a language at a young age but stop speaking that language may forget much of it as they grow older. The same goes for your dog: use it or lose it. Running through even the most basic tricks and commands will help them stay fresh in your dog's mind. Plus, it's a great way to spend time with your dog.