5 pro tips for training a new puppy

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You just got a new puppy, and you're overjoyed. They're literally the cutest thing you've ever seen and you just want to hug them every day for the rest of your life. Then they pee on you.Training your dog not only stops accidents — it also creates a much stronger bond between you and your dog. We talked to Marc Elias, the Canine Executive Officer at Pooch Pals in New York City, about dog training, canine tricks, and, of course, potty training. Here are his pro tips for training a new puppy.

What’s the biggest mistake first time dog owners make?

Marc: The good news is there is no 'right way' to train your dog. With this in mind, one consideration that seems to be largely overlooked amongst new and experienced dog owners is the importance of desensitizing your dog to wearing a new product around his/her neck or body. If you purchase a new product for your dog to wear — be it a collar, harness, muzzle, or jacket — it's a good idea to desensitize the dog to the product for a couple days by associating something positive (like food) with the product so that the dog is completely at ease and not agitated when wearing the item. For those nervous pooches this desensitization exercise is imperative before using the product every day to ensure your new purchase doesn't augment your dog's current imbalance.A good analogy to better understand why desensitization is important: say someone bought you something as personal as a pair of eyeglasses or a new pair of underwear that you HAD to wear regardless of your taste or comfort. How would you feel? Now let's say I were to give you a one-hundred dollar bill every time you put this item on you. Something tells me your association would change pretty quick. Same concept with your dog. Doing a small bit of work desensitizing your dog beforehand goes a long way in facilitating a happy and balanced dog that enjoys walking on-leash.

On your organization’s website, you talk about the importance of dog walking. Can you explain that to us?

Our dog walking services are broken down into two groups: a) standard dog walking and b) walk and train. Both services are private, one-on-one sessions between your dog and one of our pet care professionals. The walk and train service includes positive reinforcement training for dogs of all ages and stages. Our clients hire Pooch Pals because they know we have a stellar fifteen year reputation. The customer reviews we receive illustrate our commitment and professionalism in the pet care and dog training field.

More great pet advice:

For people raising a dog in the city, what’s the most important thing to know?

Socialization, socialization, socialization. It is key to socialize your dog as early as possible to their environment including but not limited to all the sights, sounds, smells, people, kids, other dogs and other stimuli in and around your home. Many leaders of the veterinary community have changed their stance on early socialization and have begun to recommend dogs receive exposure outside as early as two-months of age. I'm not suggesting there is zero risk of disease or bacteria. But, the science has proven that, within reason, exposing a young dog to the outside environment is no more threatening to his/her health than the germs you or I carry indoors on our hands or the bottom of shoes.

What are the easiest tricks I can teach my dog that will impress my friends?

Tricks are a good way for you and your dog to partner with one another. This builds trust and stimulates the brain of both you and your animal, which is good for general health. If your dog does not know any tricks I would start with something easy like 'give me paw'. You can go to a million and one websites to learn how to teach this trick. However, I'll give you a couple tips to set you and your dog up for success. These tips are applicable to many other commands you may want to teach your dog.

First, when teaching tricks it generally helps to have a clicker which you press to emit a sound (or cue) that the dog has performed the desired behavior. Second, you'll want to start your trick training before meal time, not after. A hungry dog will be more inclined to work with you. Lastly, whenever teaching your dog a new command or trick it's important to shape the behavior. At the start, you may just be reinforcing for the dog lifting it's paw off the ground. Just like you and I, dogs like to win. Always set up your training so that your dog ends on a win and gradually build on those wins overtime to shape a desired behavior. Before you know it your dog will have this new command in her repertoire.

For housebreaking a puppy: Wee Wee Pads or crate training?

Pooch Pals dog training programs are designed to support the unique lifestyles of our clients. To use pads versus crates (or both) is often a personal preference. Both are practical methods of housebreaking. Both accomplish the ultimate goal. At Pooch Pals we have made puppy housebreaking into a science! With over fifteen years of experience, we have worked with hundreds of puppies and puppy parents to eliminate accidents and achieve housebreaking bliss through positive reinforcement dog training methods."#

If you live in the metropolitan area in or around New York City and would like to receive the support of a professional dog trainer, contact Pooch Pals at (646)-322-8844 or visit their website at poochpalspetcare.com.