Training should begin as soon as you bring your puppy home. It’s far easier to teach good habits right from the start so resist the urge to spoil your puppy! Bad habits that are formed early will be challenging to change once your pup gets older. For example, it may be cute when a puppy begs for food during diner but if you give in and feed him the cuteness will wear off quickly and become a life long annoyance. The steps below will help get your puppy training started on the right track. Keep in mind all puppy and dog training begins with a dose of patience!
Start with House Training
Properly training your puppy to go outside to relieve herself is a great way to build her confidence for more involved training.
Begin by creating a consistent schedule of times to take her outside each day. Start with taking her out first thing in the morning when you wake up, then a few times during the day 15-minutes after eating or drinking and finally take her out prior to bed time. Make sure to give your puppy time take care of her business when she’s outside and praise her profusely when she does. She’ll quickly learn what she’s supposed to do!
Be alert for signs that she has to go out: sniffing around, circling, disappearing to another room. When you see these signals, immediately take your her out.
Keep in mind not to scold you’re her if she has an accident indoors, just clean it up and make a note that your she may need more trips outside.
Consistency is key in puppy training so make sure every human in the house is on the same page and uses the same set of words and body language to communicate with your puppy.
For example, if you’re teaching your pup to sit before he gets his dinner, but your kids hand him food and treats without requiring him to sit first, there will be problems.
Dogs are confused by inconsistency. Having all family members enforcing the same rules will help train your puppy faster, and it will make your dog much happier.
Keep in mind that you will need to reinforce good behaviors and correct negatives for the life of your pup (hopefully a long time!) It will be much easier to communicate with your dog at any age if you have established a clear and consistent way to communicate with him from the beginning.
Use Short Training Periods
Puppies have a short attention span. Trying to keep a puppy focused on training for extended periods of time will only lead to frustration for both you and your puppy.
Keeping training periods short helps keep you and your puppy engaged during training sessions leading to quick progress. Start with 5-minute sessions and increase the amount of time gradually, but always try and keep the sessions to 30 minutes or less.
Training can be mentally and physically tiring for your pup make sure she has plenty of time to rest. Short training, that is practiced frequently, is the key to long term success. Her mind and body are will be hard at work learning to sit, stand, roll over, come to you, etc. She’ll learn at a much faster rate if your make sure she has plenty of time to rest and recharge between training session.
Always use positive body language and a positive tone of voice when training your puppy. Dogs rely heavily on body language and sound to interpret what you are thinking.
Your puppy wants to please you, so if he does it right then let him know and he will naturally want to replicate the behavior so that you will repeat the praise! Enjoy making a big fuss of him when he gets it right! Treats and heaps of affection appreciated!
Use Treats as Motivators
Even the newest puppy owner will quickly realize that almost all dogs are food motivated! Lets put this knowledge to use and motivate him to learn new command quickly by rewarding him with his favorite food and treats.
The more your pup enjoys the treat the better. I recommend using high-quality treats with real-food protein ingredients like chicken, turkey, duck, and pork. Or if you want to go all the way, pop open the fridge and dig up some cheese, chicken, peanut butter, hot dogs, etc.. The better the smell and taste, the more motivated and excited he’ll be to learn.
While puppies have the ability to learn new skills quickly they are also easily distracted! Cars, children, other animals, all the smells and sounds outdoors make for great distractions. When you’re ready for a training session start first by finding a nice private quiet area, once your pup learns the basics you can increase the difficulty by working on commands outside with him, in the midst of distraction. Remember to be patient, keep the sessions short, a heap praise on him when he gets it right.
It’s up to you to make training a fun experience that he’ll look forward to. By practicing patience your dog will learn faster and the training periods will strengthen the bond between the two of you.
Bring in a Pro
Many puppies take to training and learn quickly while others need a bit more work due to stubbornness. Some pups are even tough to train because of their intelligence and they may need to be challenged in order to stay motivated.
In these types of situations it’s worth considering working with a professional dog trainer in either a board and train (camp), group or private setting.
Remember, the process of training a puppy is also about training you, the handler. Professional trainers will help teach you ways to motivate your pup, stay consistent, and how to correct problems early before they become bad habits.
Have questions? Give Alaska Dog Works a call at 907-841-1603