How to Train a Puppy to Like You

Easy
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You’ve just brought home a new puppy. You and your family are so excited! However, when puppy needs out at 3 AM, needs feeding, makes a mess that needs cleaning up, or destroys someone's shoes, suddenly the new puppy is your puppy. Everyone else seems to get to have all the fun, play and cuddles while you get all the work. That’s OK though, right? The new puppy will recognize this and like you best. 

Well... sometimes it works this way, sometimes not! Everyone thinks that puppies automatically bond with their primary caregivers, but this is not always the case Sometimes it takes time and sometimes it takes a change in the way you interact with your puppy to get your new addition to like you. It is also important to recognize how a dog does and does not express "like". While it may seem that your new puppy likes other family members best, he may just seek them out because they play with him and never correct him. You need to train your puppy what is expected around the house and provide for his needs, and may not have as much time for fun activities. This does not mean the puppy doesn't like you. Just wait and see who he runs to during the first thunderstorm!

Defining Tasks

Remember that dogs are not people. They interact with and express themselves differently. Be sure you are reading your new puppy correctly, as what constitutes him “liking you” may be different then you expect. Dogs view their world as pack animals. They don't have family and friends, they have packs. A dog “likes” his pack leader, the one who provides for him. Both food and exercise are very important to puppies, as well as correction, as this is part of pack socialization. Your dog may get excited about a “pack” member he plays with, but that doesn't mean he doesn't like his provider and leader just as much, or more. He may just express it differently.  Your puppy may seek you out if he is scared, follow you around the house, or use submissive body postures and language to invite affection and play. All are signs your dog likes,  respects and trusts you. Most dogs respond to strong leadership and someone who meets their basic needs. Be this person and your dog should respond wholeheartedly!

Getting Started

The most important thing you can give your dog is your time--well, besides food that is!  Make sure you have lots of time to spend with your new puppy, playing, exercising, and showing affection. You will need to make sure your new puppy understands that you are the provider of all good things. This means food, toys, walks, and adventures! Don’t forget correction and socialization though, as these are important for puppies too.

The Be the Provider Method

Effective
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Step
1
Provide food
Feed your puppy. Stay with him while you feed him, or feed by hand. Don't free feed--that is, don't leave food available all the time. Make sure your puppy knows food comes from you.
Step
2
Provide exercise
Provide exercise like running or jogging as well as leisurely walking.
Step
3
Encourage
Provide comfort when your puppy is afraid or unsure. Provide reassurance and invite your puppy into new experiences slowly, have patience.
Step
4
Provide a spot
Give your puppy a personal space, a crate or bed where your dog can retreat to if he becomes overwhelmed, anxious or nervous or is just plan worn out. Add a blanket and chew toys.
Step
5
Play
Play with your puppy, find out what games and toys he likes--fetch, frisbee, tug of war?
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The Provide Direction Method

Effective
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Step
1
Be engaged
When you train your dog, be focused on your dog, not distracted. When training, do multiple short sessions. Be consistent.
Step
2
Use positive reinforcement
Opt for positive reinforcement , over negative reinforcement, to provide correction when possible.
Step
3
Obedience train
Obedience train your puppy using positive reinforcement and lots of treats, praise and play as rewards.
Step
4
Redirect
When your puppy is engaging in unwanted behavior, correct him firmly, but calmly, and provide an alternative like a chew toy or exercise so he has an appropriate outlet for natural puppy activity.
Step
5
Encourage talents
Get your puppy ready for an appropriate job. Start teaching your puppy breed-appropriate tasks that can eventually be used to put your dog to work. If you have a working dog, figure out what job he is suited to. Harness his natural ability, herding, pulling, hunting, etc.
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The Develop Confidence Method

Effective
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Step
1
Be dependable
Be calm and assertive, don't lose patience, be consistent so your puppy can predict how you will react.
Step
2
Travel
Walk lots with your puppy to develop a pack mentality. Dogs establish a relationship as a pack when travelling together. Practice controlled walking on a loose leash with good manners and free walking with lots of nose time and exploration.
Step
3
Go at puppy's pace
Let your puppy warm up at his own pace. Be patient, there are so many changes and new things for a puppy being introduced to a new home. Take your cues from him, if he is overwhelmed or nervous, slow down, give him time, try training activities again at another better time. Don't push your puppy to interact when he is not in the mood, is tired or unsure.
Step
4
Share adventures
Take your puppy on adventures. Go on car rides, trips, to friends' houses, on play dates, or to a dog park.
Step
5
Sleep together
Let your puppy bond with you by sleeping close to him. Let him sleep with you on your bed if you are OK with that, or in your bedroom on a separate bed or in a crate. That's what dogs do in their packs, sleep together. Your puppy was sleeping with his mom and litter mates until you came along. You can provide that same secure feeling for him.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
archie
Bichon Frise
9 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
archie
Bichon Frise
9 Weeks

i need my dog to be a little less timid around me and I would also like my dog to like me more

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
394 Dog owners recommended

Hello Serina, At this age I suggest using your puppy's meal kibble as a reward for tolerating you if she will take food around you. Whenever you enter a room, toss her a treat before she runs away, barks or growls (you don't want to reward bad behavior but reward calmness, tolerance, friendliness, and good courage). Whenever she chooses to get closer to you, toss another piece of food (don't reach toward her quickly at first, just gently toss it at her paws). You should be tossing a lot of pieces of food for every little good reaction she has toward you, until she eats almost all of her meal kibble for the day - stick anything leftover in a hollow chew toy, bowl, or around something else she needs to get used to - you can even just sit still and sprinkle it around yourself while pretending to ignore her. When she is comfortable being around you in general, then get her used to being touched. Use the food to help with this too. Gently touch her somewhere that's not too intimidating like her side while at the same time feeding her a treat from your other hand. As soon as the treat is gone, stop touching her. Practice this with different areas of her body, starting with less scary areas first and moving onto other areas as she gets more comfortable. You can feed her all of her daily food this way and not even use a bowl. Practice touching things like shoulder, chest, back, ears, collar, paws, belly, and tail. Once she is comfortable being touched and being near you, work on teaching obedience using lure reward training. Obedience is one of the best ways to form a bond and build trust and respect - which can help a dog feel more secure around you. Finally, enroll in a puppy kindergarten that has time for supervised off-leash play and practices getting puppies used to being handled with treats by other owners too. Take her a lot of places and give rewards for good responses to things to help socialize. If she has a tendency to be timid, then as soon as she is more comfortable around you she needs to be super well socialized around others too to avoid becoming fearful later. You can carry her places before she has all her shots to keep her well, and you can choose a puppy kindergarten class that requires up to date vaccination, cleans their floors with something that kills parvo and distemper right before class, and keeps all non-class participants out of the puppy area once it has been cleaned to ensure a safer environment for really young puppies. There is a key socialization window that closes between 12-16 weeks so don't wait too long to start socializing - it will get harder the longer you wait. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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