Puppy Power: Training and Socialisation

Labrador puppies playing together

Created: 1/20/2015 Updated: 12/1/2022 - Shelley Audis-Riddell

behaviour, Behaviour & Training, dogs, puppy, training

Introducing a new puppy to your family can be a very exciting time. However, it is also very easy to get caught up in the moment, and allow your puppy a few too many privileges in those first precious weeks. Then, as your puppy hits adolescence, these privileges can sometimes lead to troublesome behaviour, and before you know it, your adorable four-legged friend is presenting you with a challenge!

Setting your puppy off on the right path, by having clear boundaries for behaviour, is really important. It allows them to feel safe and secure within their new family. Taking some time to set up your home for the arrival of your new puppy will also be key to your success.

Puppy proofing

Puppy proofing your home is important because puppies like to explore their surroundings with their mouth, paws and nose. They are blissfully unaware of danger, so it is up to you to make sure they are safe. In the home, make sure wires and plugs are safely hidden away, and never leave heaters or fires unattended. Be careful not to leave small, sharp objects in reach that can be easily swallowed, such as children's toys. Out in the garden, make sure your puppy cannot escape through damaged fencing. Remember to keep your puppy away from lawns and plants that have been treated with chemicals.

White fluffy puppy out at the beach

Puppy routine

A set routine will help your puppy to settle in well, and show them what to expect from day to day.

You will need to decide on who will do which roles.

Some things to consider are...

  • Meal times: What time will you feed your puppy? Who will do it?

  • Walkies: How far? How many walks a day? Who will do it?

  • Night time: Where will you puppy sleep? In a bed or in a crate?

  • Training: Who's involved in training? Training classes?

Puppy training & communication

Deciding on the commands you wish to teach your puppy and choosing which words you use to signal those commands, is very important.

It is a good idea to make sure that everyone knows and uses the same list of commands to clearly communicate with your puppy. This will greatly benefit your puppy's learning and avoid them having to learn more than one word for a single command.

Training should start on the same day your puppy arrives home! This not only involves training your puppy to sit or lie down, but also includes teaching them how you want them to behave within your family. You can do this by rewarding the behaviour you want to see from your puppy again, and ignoring the behaviour you don't by distracting them away from it.

Training through positive reinforcement will also enhance your puppy's learning and confidence. Treats tend to work best for most puppies. But for some, a toy or simple verbal praise, works just as well. Find out what treats or toys encourage your puppy the most, and keep these to one side for training and rewarding good behaviour.

close up of puppy look at camera

Puppy chewing

It is important that puppies learn to chew the right things early on. Providing a range of different toys and chews will help to keep your puppy stimulated and prevent boredom. Rotating your puppy's chews and toys throughout the day will also help to keep them novel and interesting. Here are some ideas of interactive toys that are suitable for young, energetic, and teething puppies...

BioSafe Puppy Ball

  • The multi texture is good for teething

  • Uses BioCote an antimicrobial technology, to keep Fresh for longer whilst massaging gums and reducing plaque and tartar build up.

Lots more toys for dogs of all ages can be found here.

Puppy mouthing

During their time with the litter, puppies learn to play and interact with each other by mouthing. You will find that your puppy will redirect this behaviour onto you and your family when he/she feels the need! Mouthing is a way for your puppy to tell you that they want your attention, they are bored and need stimulation, or they are excited.

Through positive training, you and your family can train your puppy to display more appropriate behaviours, like bringing their favourite toy to you when they want attention. Mouthing is an important social behaviour, so shouting, pushing or pinning your puppy must never be used to control mouthing. These forceful behaviours will not stop the mouthing, they will make the behaviour worse and you may make your puppy fearful of you if your behaviour feels intimidating.

When your puppy starts to mouth, you should use toys to re-direct the behaviour. Re-directing unwanted behaviour is key to training! When your puppy tries to mouth you, find the nearest toy and get your puppy interested in a game. Quickly move the toy onto the floor. Your puppy will not be able to resist playing with the stimulating toy! Never raise your puppy’s toys from the floor when playing. This will encourage your puppy to jump and you run the risk of being nipped as your puppy tries to get hold of the toy.

Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email helpline@oscars.co.uk.