Bringing a new puppy home is exciting.
It’s also kind of like bringing home a wild animal.
A puppy is still learning about the world around them and how to interact with humans and other animals.
They are literally born having no clue.
It’s your job to teach them manners and the appropriate way to interact with people, other dogs, different sights and sounds, and all of the other general things they will encounter in life.
UPDATED: September 4, 2023
While you can’t expect too much from your puppy the first week or so as they are learning to trust you and adjust to your new home, there are some important things you should start teaching your Dachshund puppy right away.
One note: don’t feel overwhelmed by the number of items on this list. You are not expected to teach your puppy all of these things on day 1.
It’s merely a list of things to “keep on your radar” and start taking action on after your new puppy is home with you.
It’s a list of the first things you should teach your puppy starting around 8 weeks old.
Training a Dachshund Puppy: Where to Begin
Below is a list of things that you can start teaching your puppy at 8 weeks.
Many people mistakenly believe that young puppies can’t learn or that training should start until they have all of their vaccinations.
However, if you wait until they were older, you will miss a good part of their prime learning window.
While a Dachshund of any age can learn new things, training a Dachshund puppy right away will save you a lot of grief later.
Below are 15 training suggestions that will help start your puppy out on the right paw.
1) The proper place to go potty
While you won’t be able to fully potty train a Dachshund in 8 weeks, you can certainly start.
If you purchased your puppy from a reputable breeder, they may have already started potty training your puppy for you so your job may be easier.
However, the breeder most likely trained your puppy to go potty on a pad.
While training a puppy to go potty in a designated place is a great first step, you will want to start outdoor potty training right away.
Check out 15 of my best Dachshund potty training tips
In my opinion, potty pads tell your Dachshund that sometimes it’s ok to go potty in the house so they shouldn’t be used if you can help it.
If you are gone from home for long periods during the day, since a puppy’s bladder is small and they are still learning control of it, they may not be able to hold it that long.
Think twice about encouraging your puppy to use potty pads in the house because your dog may associate going potty with being warm, dry, and the smells of the house.
If you must use a potty pad, place your puppy in a large dog crate, or in a room without carpet (like the kitchen), and make a potty pad available.
BUT, remove this potty pad once you are home and resume training your puppy to only go outside.
Once they are a little older, you can stop using puppy pads in the house altogether.
2) make sure your puppy knows their name
This may sound silly but there are many reasons to practice the name game with your puppy.
You may have changed your puppy’s name when you brought them home so they might not be used to the new one.
They are not used to listening to your tone of voice so even though they know your name, they might not be used to listening to you say it.
It’s important that you’re sure your puppy knows their name.
Every other training command, and pleasant cohabitation, depends on it.
You can start getting their attention by using their name and giving them a low calorie training treat the second they turn their head toward you or away from whatever they are occupied with at the time.
Then you can progress to not giving them the treat until they fully look at you.
Some things that can help with this practice is beginning the exercise when you are standing right next to them and then eventually saying their name from further away.
3) Establish a routine
Life can feel very unpredictable for your puppy when they are separated from their Monther and siblings and suddenly find themselves in an unfamiliar environment.
While I am a big proponent of raising a Dachshund that is flexible and goes with the flow, establishing a routine is important for a puppy.
If things are predictable for them – like when they eat, where they are supposed to potty, and when it’s time to nap or sleep – it will be easier for them to learn to fit into their new family.
Setting a predictable routine for your puppy will also help teach them to trust you and help with training.
4) Teach your puppy when it’s time to settle
I remember raising my first Dachshund puppy. That time period felt a little crazy.
I remember the day a dog trainer blew my mind.
I was lamenting about how I can’t get anything done – how it’s hard to work from home without being distracted or get my housecleaning done – because my puppy was always active and demanding to be entertained.
The trainer looked at me and said something to the effect of:
“Part of your job when raising a puppy is to teach them when it’s time to settle.“
That was her nice way of saying, while devoting a lot of time and energy raising your puppy is great, you also need to teach your puppy some boundaries.
Your puppy needs to know when it’s time to play and when it’s time to busy themselves or take a nap.
You can’t let them run your life or run you ragged.
Teaching your puppy when it’s time to settle will help prevent them from getting overtired and biting too much.
It will also give you some time to take care of your own needs.
5) Train your puppy not to bite
Puppies like to bite, a lot.
It’s the first way they know to communicate with the world – by using their mouth and teeth.
Their teeth may seem small, but you will soon learn after a few nips at your fingers that they are quite sharp and can hurt.
While they may see biting as a fun game, it’s important to teach your puppy that using the full force of their teeth to bite is most certainly not fun or acceptable behavior.
They need to learn that they can still play, and explore with their mouths, but learn to do so gently and in control.
A way to do this is to train them to use bite inhibition.
This teaches them to play with their mouths/teeth but to control the amount of strength/force they use.
Teach them there are appropriate things to bite (like toys) and inappropriate things to bite (like fingers or other pets).
Other ways you can discourage them from biting or teach them not to bite:
- Try to redirect their attention with a treat or a toy when they are attempting to bite human skin
- Provide them with interesting and appropriate toys that allow them to bite and use their mouths, so they have an outlet for their natural puppy curiosity
- Reward your puppy with a treat for releasing their bite on their own, this way they learn that good things happen once they stop their bad biting behavior.
6) Expose your puppy to different sights, smells, and surfaces
Some trainers lump the experiences of exposing your puppy to different sights, smells, surfaces, strange people, and strange dogs into a category called “socializing your Dachshund“.
Socialization is basically getting your puppy used to the different sounds and textures they may encounter in the world, including, but not limited to new dogs and people.
To safely socialize your puppy before they are fully vaccinated, you can carry them outside using a sling bag, a dog backpack, or push them in a dog stroller.
Before my puppy Summit had all of her shots, I carried her in a sling bag on the bus, around the neighborhood, around the noisy garbage truck, and to dog friendly restaurants.
I also put the vacuum in the corner of the living room for her to check out.
Eventually, I started pushing it around without turning it on and then I tired turning it on for very short bursts.
Another really important thing people often overlook is walking on different surfaces.
You don’t want to end up with a dog that refuses to walk on metal or freaks out every time they step on a wood floor.
Lay out things like a towel, a plank of wood (if you don’t have wood floors in your house that you can practice on), a metal cooking sheet, a plastic or metal grate, etc, and let your puppy sniff them.
Reward your puppy with a treat any time they are showing interest in the object or surface and especially if they touch it with their paw or step on it.
Eventually, lure them to walk on the surface with a treat.
This is also a good time to prepare your puppy for nail trims by regularly touching, and lightly squeezing, their feet and toes.
It also helps to show them the nail clippers or Dremel while doing this or at least setting them nearby where they can be seen.
7) Train your puppy to be comfortable in a dog crate
Unless the place where your puppy came from already worked with them, it’s unlikely that you will be able to shut your puppy in a crate and leave them alone from day one.
However, it’s important that you start crate training your puppy and getting them comfortable with their crate space.
There are many times in a dog’s life when they may need to be confined to a crate:
At the vet’s office if they have to spend any length of time there
When recovering from a back injury, general injury, or surgery, in natural disaster or emergency situations – and you don’t want them to freak out.
The stress of freaking out can make your dog physically sick, they can injure themselves, or they may not be able to complete their crate rest and fully recover from their surgery or injury.
You can start getting your puppy used to being confined by feeding them meals inside of the crate.
You can either do this by placing their bowl inside or feeding them by hand while they sit in the crate.
The next step would be walking away (but always leave the door open at first) while they are eating their meal or are occupies by a stuffed treat toy in the crate.
Once they are ok with that, you can try briefly shutting the door while you are sitting there, and immediately opening it back up, to see if they notice.
Next, start shutting the door to the crate and walking away for a minute.
Eventually, you should be able to stay away with the door closed for longer.
Note: if you are uncomfortable enclosing your dog in a crate, you may want to start with a dog playpen instead.
8) Teach your puppy that it’s ok to be away from you
Puppies are so cute and wonderful to snuggle.
It’s also super cute how they toddle around the house following you everywhere.
However, if you never teach your puppy that it’s ok to be away from you, and you to be out of sight, it’s likely that your Dachshund will develop separation anxiety.
Or rather, it’s almost guaranteed that your puppy will not overcome the separation anxiety inherent at this age.
To start teaching your puppy to be separated from you, put them in a pen, crate, or behind a gate, and talk a few steps away.
The basic gist is to walk away just far enough and just long enough that your puppy doesn’t freak out and then come back before they do.
This may only be a few steps away, and for only a few seconds, at first.
Praise your puppy lavishly for being calm and quiet when you return, and/or reward them for a treat, to reinforce that staying calm and quiet while you are away brings good things.
Eventually, you can move further away, and stay away from longer, ultimately being able to leave the house.
I will note that just because your puppy is ok with you being gone from the house without them, that may not translate to them also being ok if you are away from them in another part of the house (like sleeping or upstairs).
You may have to work on that issue separately.
9) Get your puppy used to wearing a harness or collar
First, you’ll need to get your puppy used to the item you want to put on by letting them sniff it and giving them treats when they are near and/or look at it.
This tutorial is for anyone out there that deals with a running dog every time they bring out the harness (or whatever it is you want to put on them).
Once your puppy is familiar with the item you want them to wear, the next step is to try putting it on them.
If you are using a harness, the best way is to put your hand, with treats in it, through the hole where their head goes.
Let them eat the treats (slowly, not all at once) while holding the item still and pulling your hand back through the opening.
The idea is to get them to put their head through it themselves.
If your dog doesn’t, resist the urge to pop it over their head and try again later.
Once your dog is putting their head through it, you can fasten the closures.
Leave it on for a minute and then take it off.
Important: always supervise your puppy with a collar, harness, or leash on.
If your puppy freezes and refused to move with it on, try to get them to walk around in it by luring them with a treat or toy.
Your puppy may not want to walk at all with the collar or harness on.
Dealing with this is a whole other step.
Check out my tips for getting a puppy to walk in a harness HERE.
Eventually, you can extend the duration they are wearing their “gear” until they no longer seem to notice and become comfortable in it.
Once your puppy is comfortably wearing harness or collar, you can attach a leash to it, which brings me to the next item on the list.
10) Introduce Your Puppy to Walking on a Leash
You’ll want to get your puppy used to the leash before they even leave the house.
A very lightweight one is best, so you may want to look into buying a cat or rabbit leash for your puppy.
At first, just attach the leash and let your puppy drag it around the house to get used to the weight and “something following them” (the dragging leash).
Important: always supervise your puppy with the leash on.
Below are some helpful steps to get your puppy used to having a leash attached.
Each puppy is different so some of you may progress through these steps within a day or two while others may take a week or more.
- Let your dog sniff the leash (on the ground and holding it) and give them treats for positive reactions or acting like it’s no big deal.
- Once they are used to seeing the leash, you can hold a treat in your hand and let them sniff it (the treat) while touching the leash clip to the harness hook (don’t attach it yet).
- Try activating the clip behind their head so it makes clicking noise and giving your dog a treat immediately following the clicking noise.
- Next, try clipping the leash onto the harness while your puppy is eating the treat in your hand. Once they eat the treat, unclip the leash.
- Progress to clipping the leash on and leaving it on.
- Next, pick up the end of the leash and try to lead your puppy around the house with you.
Once your puppy is used to a collar/harness and leash, you can take your puppy outside.
If your puppy is not finished with vaccinations, you can stick to your own back yard where the risk of catching parvo or other illness is low.
The two challenges you are most likely to encounter at this stage are the “freezing” or your puppy pulling hard on the leash.
For the freezing, you can try the luring technique mentioned above.
I’ve had to do this and literally lure my puppy every few feet to get her around the block.
Eventually, I had to do it less and less and she learned that walking is a good thing.
11) Teach your puppy to come to you
Once your puppy recognizes their name, you can start to teach them to come to you when you call.
One way to do this is to have them ‘work’ for a treat.
Start with tossing a small bite of a treat at your puppy and once they have eaten it, call their name.
When they pop their head up in response, say the word ‘come’ and show them another treat in your hand.
When they come for the treat, touch them and acknowledge their behavior.
This way they are learning that coming to you is a positive behavior and this will help when you start to take them out more to explore the world around them.
Note: Different dog trainers may have different theories and techniques for teaching “come” but the video above is a great start.
12) Teach your puppy to sit
Teaching your puppy is usually as simple as having them stand, holding a treat in front of them, and then slowly raising it above their head.
Most puppies will naturally plop their butt down to reach the treat.
Once they are doing that pretty reliably, you can add the command “sit” when they are doing it and reward them as soon as their but is firmly on the ground.
Once your puppy has the sit command down, you can reinforce this command by asking them to sit at various points throughout the day like before you set their bowl down, before you pet them, or before you throw their favorite toy.
13) Get your puppy comfortable with being handled
Some puppies don’t mind if you kiss and hug them all over, open their mouth, touch inside their ears, handle their feet, or generally put your hands on them.
However, some are very what is called “body sensitive.”
Those puppies might shy away when you reach for them or struggle when you try to hold them.
You’ll want to start desensitizing your puppy to being touched right away – to teach them it’s ok to be touched.
This will help down the road with exams by your veterinarian, cleaning ears, cutting nails, etc.
It will also help you with recall and catching your dog when they finally do come.
Gently and frequently handle and manipulate your puppy’s feet, ears, skin, and mouth while offering a lot of praise so your puppy develops positive associations with those actions.
14) Teach your puppy that great things like food come from you
In the beginning of your puppy’s new life with you, it’s important to establish a positive bond.
You’ll want to start developing a habit of your puppy looking to you to meet their needs and give direction.
This is best done by hand feeding your puppy at first, so they learn that food comes from you (vs the bowl).
Besides hand feeding your puppy at mealtime, you can use a portion of their food as training treats throughout the day.
Hand feeding your puppy in their dog crate will also help them build positive associations with their “cave”.
15) How to ride in the car
This is an important one to me because road trips are one of my favorite ways to travel and we sometimes live on the road for weeks at a time.
Taking your puppy for frequent car rides early on will help build positive associations.
Just be sure to take your puppy to more fun places than potentially unpleasant paces like the vet or groomer.
By taking your puppy for frequent rides in the car you can:
- Learn if there is any motion or anxiety associated with the car you will need to work through
- Teach your puppy where their place is in the car
I know how fun it is to drive with your little puppy on your lap and how tempting it is to do so as a way help your puppy feel comfortable in the car.
But I know from personal experience that this practice can get dangerous once your Dachshund starts to get big enough that they interfere with the operation of the steering wheel.
It just better if you use a crate or car seat for your puppy in the car from day one.
Bringing a Dachshund puppy home is exciting. They’re such cute bundles of joy!
And little terrors at times!
Make sure to do these things before you bring your puppy home and then use the tips in this article to start teaching your puppy to be a good family member as soon as you can.
For even more tips, check out this advice from other Dachshund owners about raising a puppy.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.