Congrats! You’ve just welcomed a new puppy into your home. Now it’s time to train your pup like a pro with our essential puppy training techniques and tips, focused on three important topics:
Preventing Nipping and Biting
How to Housetrain a Puppy
Most experts suggest potty training a puppy when they’re between 12 and 16 weeks old.
Before you begin, though, set your furry friend up for puppy potty training success by setting up 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 puppy food like IAMS™ Puppy Food, PEDIGREE® Puppy Food, or NUTRO™ Puppy Food at the same times daily. These foods are 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 scheduling potty breaks for every hour or two at first, depending on your pup’s breed and size. A good rule of thumb is that they can usually hold it for as many hours as they are months old, so a three-month-old puppy should go out about every three hours. Also take them out for a potty break 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 bedtime and scheduling a bathroom break right before bed will help your puppy sleep through the night. Most puppies can sleep about seven hours without having to go. But if your puppy does need to go out, keep your interaction low-key and don’t encourage play. Take them outside, allow them to pee or poop, 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 pup 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 Train a Puppy to Stop Nipping and Biting
While playing with your puppy is fun for both of you, it’s important to teach them 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 curb 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 puppy that biting is not an OK way to play.
Put Your Pup in Timeout
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
Always have a puppy chew toy handy for your growing puppy. 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. The amount of exercise recommended varies by your puppy’s breed and size; larger, more athletic breeds tend to require more, and smaller breeds typically require less.
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 Train 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 with Indoor Leash Training
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 Leash Lessons 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. Keep praising and giving your puppy occasional treats until they learn the leash-training routine and become a well-mannered walking partner for life.