Training your puppy well in its first years can definitely make the life ahead with your pup much easier. Did you know that puppy training is more than having a well-behaved dog? Don’t get us wrong, that is definitely important, but puppy training has more impact than you think. On the surface, the difference between puppies that have had training and ones that did not can be quite obvious, but what effects does puppy training have on development and your dog’s quality of life?
Let’s figure it out.
Why is Puppy Training Important?
Let’s answer the big question first - why is puppy training important? Puppy classes are recommended by experts because it gives your new dog a chance to socialize with others in a public setting, and they can create a deeper bond and strengthen your relationship with your pooch.
You will be learning from an expert who has knowledge about how best to teach each individual dog. You can identify some of your dog’s challenges and have knowledge about how to deal with them. Through basic commands such as sit and stay, you can potentially keep your dog away from dangerous situations or diffuse an aggressive encounter.
Training also defines a hierarchy within your household and builds a strong foundation for future behavior modifications.
Dog training goes both ways. It isn’t just a chance for your dog to understand what you want, but it is also an opportunity for you to get to know your pooch. What does he respond to? You will also get a closer look at your dog’s temperament, and insight into how he’s feeling by looking at his body language.
Why is reading body language and knowing your dog so crucial? It gives you the chance to predict and circumvent situations that could be aggressive.
Aside from all of that, training also gives your dog adequate mental stimulation that he needs, which is just as important as physical exercise.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Puppy Training
If you decide to enroll your dog in puppy classes, there will definitely be a list of do’s and don’ts covered by the expert trainer. If not and you decide to embark on the training adventure alone (maybe with the help of some learning resources), then we have a list of what you should and shouldn’t do that could make your progress easier.
- Encourage your pup. You may think he doesn’t understand, but your tone of voice has more effect than you think!
- Offer an end in sight. When your dog completes the command, always reward him with a treat so he knows action = reward.
- Predict and anticipate your dog’s behavior through his body language
- Take breaks! It is easy to get fed up and frustrated for both parties if there are no breaks
- Give him some time. Sometimes your dog may need to think a bit. Give him sufficient time to recall what your command means without getting impatient.
- Have fun! Remember, this isn’t a competition. It is okay if your dog needs more time to get something than the neighbor’s dog.
- Have fun and try to enjoy yourself. Your dog will pick up on your emotional cues and mirror them. So, if you’re impatient, it will frustrate him.
- Be patient
- Be consistent. Dogs thrive on routine, so repeat the same command and try not to change things up
- Use plenty of positive reinforcement
- Puppy proof the home and backyard for your pup. This can prevent any injuries.
- Try too many things at once. Don’t do more than one command at a time, it is tough on your dog
- Punish him. Never punish him. Reward the good behavior and ignore the bad.
- Tease him. If he does something right, reward him
- Introduce negativity into the training. It will put a lot of pressure on your dog
- Stray from routine. Keep to the same command words and routine.
- Reward for effort. If he doesn’t get it right, try again. If you reward him too soon, it will confuse him. Let him know what he is rewarded for by allowing him to complete the command.
- Leave your dog alone during the puppy stage. It’s very easy for them to get up to mischief and perhaps even danger.
- Expect potty training or any type of training to be complete in a few days. Read more here to see how long it could take.
What Basic Puppy Training Should Entail
What are the basic commands that every puppy needs to learn? It really depends on what you need from your dog, but below are some of the ones we found to be most helpful.
There is no doubt that teaching your dog to come when called is beneficial. This is also called “recalling” and is significant when your dog is off leash or if you have lost sight of him. This is done with a keyword, usually “come”. You can start from a very short distance or even with your dog sitting directly in front of you.
Each time he comes towards you to grab the treat, say “come” so he associates that word with the action of going to you. After he has mastered coming to you at a short distance, you can increase the amount of space between you.
This is more complicated than you think! Have you seen puppies pulling, tugging, and lunging? Yes, it happens and it is very common. Loose-leash walking is the ability to have your dog walk next to you calmly without the leash being taut.
Before your dog can graduate to loose-leash walking, he must first get used to the leash and harness. It can take some time as your dog will definitely be distracted and puppies will love to try to bite and wrestle the leash. The key is a distraction in this case. When your pup tries to play with the leash, distract him with a toy, a sound, or a command.
Once your pooch is used to the leash, you can try loose-leash training by having him walk close next to you, keep eye contact with you while walking, and reward him with a treat. You can also do it by keeping the treat next to your knee, or at face level for your dog and walking forward a few steps before releasing the treat.
Whenever your pooch tugs or pulls ahead, stop and head in the other direction and start again. Soon, your dog will understand the basics of loose-leash walking.
Sitting is a great neutral position to teach and can be the foundation of other commands and tricks. You can do it with treats. Hold a snack in front of you. Your dog will come to you and you can wait for him to sit before giving it to him. If not, then try pushing his but down very gently. When he sits, give him the treat while saying the command.
Stay is a command you cannot forgo. It can keep your dog from lunging forward or running after things, a situation that could put him in grave danger.
To teach them to stay, eye contact is very important. You can also include a hand gesture if you wish. It is better to teach sit before stay because you can use it as the neutral starting position. Keep repeating “stay” while walking backward away from your dog while he is in the sitting position. Do it for just a second or two and then reward them. When you think your dog has a good grasp of what you want with the word “stay”, you can increase the length of time.
Teaching your dog to settle or lie down is a very similar process to “sit”. We find it easiest to start in the sitting position and hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose while repeating the keyword “down” and slowly lower your hand to the ground.
Most dogs will follow your hand and end up on their belly on the ground.
Always try to end your training sessions on a high note. You can do it with plenty of encouraging words and head rubs. Remember that training can take a long time and your dog may forget command words if you are not consistent, so patience is the key. Never punish your dog verbally or physically. Instead, reward the correct behavior and ignore the bad ones. With time, your dog can become a very well-trained pooch!
About the Author:
Brad is someone who cannot remember life without dogs around, he simply can’t live without them! He created Dog Nerdz to provide owners with crucial tips and essential info in order to be the best dog owner they can be. He has learned so much over the years about how to look after his precious pup Boogie!