With any new puppy, there is a period of time when you need to learn how your dog reacts to its environment, and when she needs to learn how to live with you. Behavioural problems—such as biting, destructive chewing or excessive barking—are among the top reasons why dogs are abandoned or given up. Fortunately, most problem behaviours can be avoided by starting with proper training techniques at an early age, by being consistent and by having everyone in the family get involved in training.

House training

For most dogs, house training should be well underway by three months of age and complete by four months of age. We recommend crate training, as it is instinctive for dogs not to poop or pee where they sleep. Generally, you should limit the amount of time your puppy spends in his create to no more than three hours for an eight-week-old, increasing by one hour for every month of age, to a maximum of eight hours. Frequently, puppies learn to stay clean and dry through the night in a very short period of time.

Take her outside first thing in the morning, last thing at night and within 20 minutes following a meal. Make sure you accompany her to the toilet area so that she becomes familiar with the location and so you can offer a treat and praise when she “goes.”

Avoid scolding a puppy that has an accident in the house—you will just make him fearful and distrustful of you. It’s also best not to let him see you clean up. (The less he sees of the “result,” the less likely he will be to associate it with being indoors.) Use vinegar and water or a good-quality disinfectant to clean the area and remove odours.

Command training

We highly recommend that you take your new friend to puppy classes. Basic training helps establish your role as the “top dog,” and helps you learn the correct methods for teaching not only the essential commands—such as sit and stay—but also the methods for more advanced training should you need them. Furthermore, proper training also teaches the puppy the meaning of “no,” for example, when you want her to stay off the counter. We advocate using a “positive reward” method. This will make for a happier, friendlier puppy than a method that uses excessive discipline. (Please ask us for names of great trainers in our area.)

The other advantage of puppy classes is that they aid in socialization by fostering positive responses to other dogs—and other people. Lack of exposure to a variety of dogs and to different people early in a puppy’s life can lead to social problems later.