Training Your Puppy
Even the youngest new puppy can learn to “sit”, “lie down” , “stay” , and “come” when asked. But looking at your cute new puppy, it’s hard to imagine that training would be necessary at all. Of course, it always is. During training, we should view our pets as companions who both understand and respond to us. Training should be considered as a means of teaching pets good manners so that, as our puppies mature into adult dogs, they’ll be welcome both in our homes and in public as well. For practical purposes, training should be initiated as early as possible.
Puppies learn best when they receive exciting rewards for their efforts. Even the youngest and tiniest puppy will be enthusiastic about food treats and will be eager to work for it. Experiment to find your pet’s favorite rewards, whether it’s food, a tossed toy or a warm word of praise. Only positive, gentle methods should be used – punishment is likely to harm your pet’s confidence and has no place in good training. Puppies, like children and even adults, learn best when they enjoy the learning process and receive something in return. In the home or in the park, differences are usually very obvious between reward-trained dogs and those trained by force.
Training should utilize word cues – “commands” – that will be of practical use to you as your pup’s human companion. The most helpful tools are “sit” , “lay down” , “stay”, and “come”. It’s important to teach your pet to walk on a leash without tugging. If you have intentions of enrolling your puppy in an obedience competition, you will need to train a formal “heel” but this can wait until your puppy is older. For future obedience competition candidates enrolling your pup in training classes is highly encouraged.
The most effective teaching method, using “sit” as an example, is to allow your puppy to engage in the behavior on their own rather than pushing them into position. Small bits of food (even your pup’s regular kibble) can be used as a “lure” after offering a few free pieces first. With food in hand, present your hand to the puppy’s nose and then slowly raise it toward the top of their head, so that their mouth and head are directed upward. In most cases, when the nose points up, the tail end goes down and your pet is sitting! The food should then be immediately relinquished and the exercise repeated.
Lures can be used effectively to train “down” by having your puppy sit facing you, then drawing the lure from their nose to the floor and then back toward you. When your pet’s sitting or lying down reliably each time you offer the lure, you can introduce the works – sit or down- along with the lure.
Finally, when your pup is responding like a pro, the rewards can be cut back and given only every other time, then every third time, and finally, only randomly.
Lures, rewards, timing and other aspects of positive training are best demonstrated, and then guided by experienced trainers. If you have resources in your city or town, consider enrolling your young (and vaccinated) puppy in a “kindergarten” training class designed specifically for the young pet. Puppy kindergartens usually include basic, reward based training, along with plenty of playtime and discussions about care and behavior. Obedience centers also have puppy or pre-novice training sessions designed to teach on a slightly more serious level. Many dog owners will proceed from one level to the next – first with a puppy, then with an adolescent and later with their young adult dog – who by now is proficient at basic obedience commands. Training should be fun for you and your pup!
A lifetime of good manners can start with training the youngest of puppies. If they are old enough to be away from her mother and littermates, they are old enough to learn simple commands. The result isn’t just a well behaved and welcome canine companion but one whose quality of life is enhanced in the long run. They will be more likely to accompany you on trips, on visits to friends’ houses and, because they will have learned to come when called, they will be ready for that great day when they first run free on a sandy beach.
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About Shallowford Animal Hospital
Shallowford Animal Hospital and The Pet Spa at Shallowford are dedicated to the exceptional, compassionate care your pet deserves. Pets hold a very special place in our families, and we treat yours like our own.