Bringing home a new puppy is an incredibly exciting experience, but it also requires a lot of hard work and dedication. No matter what age your cute new pup may be, it is essential that you begin training them as soon as they enter your home.
Young puppies are just like sponges- eager to absorb whatever you teach them! There will be times when properly training your puppy is a difficult and even frustrating task, however it’s important not to give up as the reward of an obedient and well-trained dog will be well worth it in the long run.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some helpful hints and tips that will help you train and develop an obedient and well-behaved pooch right from day one!
Establish Yourself as the Puppy’s Leader
First things first, your puppy needs to understand that you are the leader of the pack. Puppies are born with all the instincts of a wild dog, and have an innate need to follow a leader. It is essential that throughout your puppy’s training, you are consistent and strong– two characteristics that new dog owners often forget.
Dogs, young and old alike, have the ability to sense their owner’s confidence levels and they will take advantage of them if they consider them to be weak. When this occurs, bad behaviours such as chewing on the furniture, excessive barking or leash pulling may develop.
Your role as your puppy’s pack leader is to begin immediately, not when they act out or when they turn a year old. During the entire process of training your puppy, you should never drift away from your role as pack leader. In order for them to grow up to be a well-behaved and healthy dog, you must display and maintain your leadership from the very start.
The rules that you want your puppy to follow need to be established before they even enter your home. For example, if you do not want them wandering up the stairs, place a gate at the entrance that will prevent them from getting up their in the first place. It will make it much easier for them to learn if everything is already in place when they make their grand arrival.
Building a Relationship
Building a healthy relationship with your dog is just as crucial as living up to your duty of being their leader. There are plenty of great ways to build a relationship with your puppy.
Some simple tasks that will help strengthen the bond between the two of you include playing games such as hide and seek, fetching a ball and catch. Not only will these games connect them to you, they will help to increase their interest in interacting with you- meaning that they are more likely to learn from your training.
After your puppy has received the correct vaccinations and is able to go outside, taking him for a walk is another great way to build the relationship between the two of you. In addition to providing physical activity and a chance for your puppy to relieve himself, taking your dog for a walk will work wonders for building trust and a solid bond between you.
When you begin to teach your puppy basic commands, treats are an excellent way to reinforce positive acts. Many owners hesitate to use treats in this stage because they think the dog will begin to expect them whenever they do something right, but the bottom line is that they do much more good than bad.
It is close to impossible to train a puppy without some kind of reward. Most puppies respond well to some kind of treat involving food – the smaller the better. If you do not have treats on hand, small pieces of their regular dog food will work just fine.
Be careful with the size and frequency of treats though- treating them to a large biscuit after every act of good behavior has the potential to lead to obesity! High value treats, such as ham or turkey, should be used when implementing new habits, whilst lower value foods should be used for retraining more established behaviours.
Keep Training Sessions Short
Training sessions should never last longer than 10 to 15 minutes – this is especially true when teaching your puppy to obey commands such as lying down, staying or sitting. The reason for this is that puppies, just like children, have short attention spans. This means that if they are subjected to training sessions that go on for too long, they are likely to lose interest and you are less likely to see effective results.
Do your best to keep all of your training sessions full of new and exciting things. Add games to keep things interesting, for both you and your puppy!
If you notice that your dog is beginning to get frustrated or distracted, take a break or end the session all together. It is essential for you to end each and every training session on a positive note. This way your puppy will look forward to training with you again, rather than considering it a form of punishment.
Use Verbal Praise
Young puppies respond extremely well to verbal praise. This should be used in addition to whatever treats that you may chose to incorporate into your sessions. Whenever your puppy responds correctly or does what you tell them them to do, praise them with with a friendly, high-pitched voice. This will excite your puppy and associate more positive feeling with the correct behaviour.
On the other hand, you should use a firm, stern voice whenever they disobey your commands or the rules that you have set in place for them, as it helps to show them that what they are doing is wrong, reducing the chances that they will repeat the behaviour. Verbal acknowledgement of behaviour will help the puppy to learn right from wrong because they are constantly seeking their owner’s approval.
Learn From Others
Often, puppy training goes a lot more smoothly with the help of a professional as well as socialization with other puppies. Try enrolling your puppy in a puppy class. These provide you with the opportunity to learn more about the way dogs learn best, and they also allow your dog to learn by example. When your puppy sees other puppies acting in a positive manner, they will be much more likely to do the same. If you do not believe puppies classes are a good fit, consider hiring an obedience trainer to visit your home.
The truth of the matter is that puppies learn very quickly as long as they are provided with proper and consistent instruction. The way you manage their first few days in your home can help to set the precedent for how they act for the rest of their lives.
All members of the household should take responsibility with the puppy’s rules to help keep things consistent. There will be times when you get frustrated and times where the puppy just doesn’t want to learn but you should never give up because they want to learn just as much as much as you want them to!