Friday, March 23, is National Puppy Day! We know you love your puppy and would do anything for them, but sometimes their behaviours need to be honed for the sake of both yours and your puppy’s comfort.

There may be many behaviours you wish to help your puppy improve, but it’s best to start small. Here are some suggestions on where to start:

Daily Routines

Basics such as food and water location, meal times, and bedtime are matters of repetition and routine. Feeding your puppy only an hour earlier than usual, one time, can throw off what they know to be the norm. If they’re not fed at that earlier time the next day, they may whine, you may give in to those puppy dog eyes, and then it becomes a cycle. To avoid those tempting puppy dog eyes, do your best not to stray from the routine.

House Training

To ensure your puppy has a bathroom routine, they must also have a feeding routine. Food shouldn’t be left out throughout the day, or else your puppy may use the washroom far more often than is convenient for you.

If your puppy does relieve themself indoors, clean the area as soon as possible. If the scent sticks around, your puppy will continue to associate that spot with a bathroom, and breaking the habit will become more difficult. When your puppy does go to the bathroom outside, use positive reinforcement to reward them, like giving them a treat, praising them, or taking them for a walk.

Crate Training

Before house training your puppy, you may want to consider crate training them. Once properly crate trained, dogs view their crate like wolves view their den: a place of safety that’s free of feces and urine. A crate-trained puppy will try harder not to excrete waste within the crate, and therefore wait until they are let outside.

When crate training your puppy, keep in mind the following:

  • The crate shouldn’t be used as punishment. It is meant to be their safe space to relax and sleep. It is not meant to be used as solitary confinement for bad behaviour.
  • Never force your puppy inside. As it is their space, they should feel welcomed when entering it, not sentenced. When you first introduce your puppy to their crate, let them explore it at their leisure. Try coaxing them inside with some treats.
  • Keep it comfortable and clean. Fill the crate with cozy bedding and your puppy’s favourite toys. If your puppy excretes waste inside the crate, clean it as soon as possible – no one wants to sleep in that.

If your puppy doesn’t get the hang of things right away, don’t fret! Humans and dogs alike learn at different paces. Just stick with it and they’ll get there eventually.

It’s important that your puppy views all of this training as displays of friendship rather than as chores. Training your puppy is an important part of growing the love and trust between you two. All of the positive reinforcement treats your puppy receives are just bonuses!

Happy training, and Happy National Puppy Day!