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Top 10 things every puppy should be taught

If you plan on bringing a puppy home for the holidays, Christmas might not be the best day to surprise your family. Instead, find a time in the weeks before or after the holidays to introduce your new four-legged family member to his new surroundings without adding undue stress. Once the puppy has become an official member of the family, follow the tips below to ensure you are doing everything you should for your new pet.

1. Teach Your Puppy to Wear a Leash and Collar
This is the first and most important tip when it comes to caring for puppies. If your puppy pitches a fit about using a leash and collar, it will be nearly impossible to train him. Avoid the hysteria and flailing and teach your puppy to accept a leash and collar (which should be selected based on your dog’s physical sensitivity) before teaching commands such as 'sit' and 'down.' If your dog freaks out when he sees the leash, try replacing it with a long shoelace for a few days. Be sure to play with the puppy while he's wearing it, so he learns that walking on a leash is not meant to be a painful experience. After a few days, your puppy should be ready to try again.

2. Teach Your Puppy to Walk on a Leash
That is, teach your puppy to walk with you on a leash, as opposed to allowing your puppy to walk you on a leash! Since your little darling has accepted the fact that he can wear a collar and drag a leash, it's time to get up and moving. Make sure your puppy is in the mood to work (hungry, lonely, bored) and make sure you have a wonderful food or toy lure (depending on his particular motivation) in your pocket!

3. Teach Your Puppy to Be Handled
Puppies must learn to accept being handled by family members and strangers (i.e., your vet). "Handling" is the examination of the various body parts of your puppy, not a form of affection like tummy rubs and head pats. Handling happens whether or not your dog wants it to happen, by whoever wishes to do so to perform tasks such as dog-grooming and examining paw pads (to see if a piece of glass is caught in them, for example). The goal is to have your dog accept examinations without flailing, biting, bucking, or engaging in major fits of hysterics.

4. Teach Your Puppy to Meet New People
Introducing a puppy to new people is very important. Once your puppy has received all the required vaccinations, you can take him new places and start teaching him that people are great fun to be around.

5. Teach Your Puppy to Go on the Road
If you’re taking your puppy to meet new people and using your car to do so, your puppy must be in a travel crate or doggie seatbelt. Many accidents have been caused by loose dogs, such as small dogs getting down by the gas and brake pedals. In addition, a loose dog is at risk for severe injury should an accident occur.

6. Teach Your Puppy to Stay Home Alone
As critical as it is for your puppy to get out, staying home alone is equally important! Make leaving the house a major non-event. Don’t convey a sense of impending doom or confuse him by assuring him in an exaggerated baby voice that everything will be okay. You should have a special toy that your puppy never gets to play with until you leave the house — a stuffed animal or real bone, or whatever he loves best. Put the "goodbye" toy in the crate, close the crate door, and — using your best casual voice — say, "see you later." Then pick up your keys and your bag and leave.

7. Teach Your Puppy Correct Behavior Around Kids
Puppies are adorable, untrained balls of energy. Typically, they are either attracted to or fearful of kids. Puppies play with other puppies by biting and tackling — they need to learn that this is not an acceptable way to interact with humans. While your dog is a pup, always supervise interactions between your canine and your child. Puppies and children need to learn — over time — how to interact in a safe and acceptable manner.

8. Teach Your Puppy Some Basic Commands
Once your dog reaches seven weeks of age, you may begin training basic commands. First, you'll need to take the free canine personality quiz to determine your dog’s motivation, energy level, work ethic, and physical and emotional sensitivity. Based on his unique personality, you can take a customized approach to teaching 'sit' and 'down.' Handled properly, you’ll be well on your way to an obedient, confident, and happy dog!

9. Teach Your Puppy Some Chores!
By giving your puppy things to do before he earns a reward, you'll not only be keeping him busy and alert but also establishing yourself as head of the household. Tell your dog to "sit" before giving him a treat (if your puppy is food motivated). Try telling him to "down" before throwing a ball (if your puppy is play motivated). As he gets older, you can teach your puppy to fetch the newspaper or bring you the leash. The possibilities are endless!

10. Teach Your Puppy in Small Increments
Most puppies do very well with 10- or 15-minute training sessions. Puppies with unusually high energy levels or work ethics (which you will find out through the canine personality quiz) can work a little longer, but 20 minutes should be the maximum. Remember that two short sessions can be more effective than one — you can always come back to training later in the day. Try to stop the session while your puppy still wants to do "one more"!




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