# 1 Priority Training for Your Puppy - Potty Training
One of the most important lessons to start with is potty training your puppy. Before you even enroll them in a puppy training class, this first initial challenge will come up. This training should begin as soon as you bring your new puppy home. If this is your first ever puppy or your first puppy in a long time, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into the whole process. The best way to start out is by creating a schedule and sticking to it! Keep in mind that when puppies are 8-10 weeks old, they can only be expected to hold it for about 2 hours, so that means lots of potty breaks.
In addition to having a strict schedule, utilizing a crate can be extremely helpful during this phase. Having your pup safely secured in a crate is one of the best ways to prevent them from having accidents when you're not able to directly supervise them. The crate can act as a sort of baby sitter while you wash the dishes or run to the supermarket. In the times where you are able to supervise them, it's always best to give them a chance to go outside before allowing them to roam in the house. Be sure to block off any areas of the house where they could wander off to and have an accident without anyone noticing. In the beginning it's best to keep their world small. In addition to the crate you can also use a play pen or baby gates to give them a "puppy proofed" area to play in. Starting this training early is a huge step in your puppies life with you. We recommend getting started with one of our private puppy training classes to get the holy grail of potty training.
#2 Crate Training Your Puppy
Some new owners love the idea of a crate while others cringe at the idea of keeping their pup locked up. Whether or not you plan to keep your puppy crated is of course up to you. However, even dogs that aren't crated as adults can still benefit from using one for a few months as a puppy. Having a new puppy in your home often leads to many things becoming chew on, peed on, or destroyed. The first few months can be tough as you figure out just how many things look like chew toys to your pup. Things that you would have never imagined like remotes or glasses can become your dogs new favorite toy. Not to mention all the shoes and socks that they discover. Even something as harmless as a sock can quickly turn in a $1,000 vet bill if they accidentally swallow it. Some puppies will gravitate towards phone chargers or electric cords which can end up causing even more harm. At the end of the day, using a crate temporarily to keep your puppy safe can literally be a life saver. You wouldn't leave an infant free to roam around the house by themselves, that's where the beauty of a crib comes in. You can think of your dog's crate as a sort of crib.
Their crate should never be used for punishment. It should always be seen as a safe place from them. Keeping them crated means that while you're not able to watch them, you can rest easy knowing that they won't be chewing on electric cables or fishing wrappers out of the garbage. Having that security and safety is a huge benefit to crate training.
The other major benefit to crate training is the way it can speed up your potty training process. The crate enables you to predict when your puppy will need to go potty. The reason this works so well is because dogs typically don't like to eliminate in the same area that they sleep in. This means that while they're in the crate they learn how to hold it and your job is simply to take them immediately outside as soon as they exit the crate. Creating a predictable crating and potty training schedule really helps to move this process right along.
Another great advantage to crates is their ability to safety transport your dog from one place to another. For example in the car, on a plane, or into a grooming facility. Typically both veterinarians and groomers will also have your dog in a crate-like structure during their stay. This keeps them safe from the other animals around them and gives them a quiet place to relax and hang out while they're waiting their turn. If your dog is already accustom to being in a crate then this is usually an easy transition for them. However, if this is your dogs first experience with a crate, it can turn into an overly emotional event fairly quickly.
After you can trust that your dog won't have accidents around the house anymore or destroy things in your absence, the crate can become just another tool that gets stored in your garage for a rainy day. Maybe you'll need it for a road trip or a plane ride someday but it doesn't need to be a part of your house after it's served it's purpose. On the other hand for some dogs, the crate can become like a sort of bedroom to them and they actually prefer it to be around so that they can go into it to relax.
#3 Socializing Your Puppy
Socialization for your puppy should be something you think about well before you even bring them home! It is one of the most important parts to bringing up a well-rounded pup. The reason socialization takes such a front row seat in your training is because you have a short period of time while they're still young to properly expose them to new things. This is what's called the "socialization period." Some experts say it ends at 3 months while others say it could be as long as 6 or 7 months, but all experts agree no matter the age that the golden rule is: the sooner, the better.
Puppies have the wonderful ability to quickly bounce back from things that scare them or startle them. This is one of the main reasons socialization is crucial for young dogs. This is the time period where they should be interacting with as many new dogs, people, and environments as possible. Dogs who have been exposed to an abundance of things while they're young, have a much better chance of being comfortable lots of things in the future. If on the other hand they're not exposed to lots of new things, you can start to see some anxiety or aggression related behaviors develop later on in life. The good news is that this is completely avoidable for most dogs. All you have to do is get them out into the world as much as possible! We cover how to get your puppies properly socialized in all our our puppy training classes. Contact Us to learn more!