An Introduction to Puppy Training
The best time to start puppy training is when you first bring your puppy home. This way, he learns your expectations before he has time to develop any bad habits. Start by setting a few basic rules and then begin to train commands.
The first thing most owners want their puppies to learn is where to relieve themselves. The best way to do this is set them up not to make mistakes. Puppy crate training is an important piece of this. Teach your puppy to be comfortable in his crate by feeding him and giving him great treats inside.
When you can’t supervise your puppy, he must be in his crate. Just make sure to take him out every 1 to 2 hours. Walk him to the door you want him to use and reward him for going in the right place. Keep a journal of how often he goes so you know when it is time for him to go again.
Puppies need to learn not to nip, jump or chew on inappropriate items. They are not born knowing these things. Don’t punish them. Just be consistent in not rewarding undesirable behavior.
If your puppy jumps on you, walk away and ignore him. When he is on all four feet, turn around to pet and praise him. If he nips you, yell “ouch” and leave the room. If he chews on something inappropriate, redirect him to one of his own toys. This is most effective if he does not have access to things he can chew up when you’re not home.
Puppies are so easy to teach because they want to please. Take this opportunity to teach some important commands.
The first command to teach is focus. Say your dog’s name 10 to 15 times a day. If he looks at you, give a treat. Build up to doing this on walks and more distracting environments.
To teach your dog to sit, hold a treat directly above his nose and then slowly move it back toward his rear. As he raises his head to follow the treat, his butt will drop into a sit. Say “sit” and then praise and give the reward. Release him quickly with a “go free” command so he knows that sit means sit until you say he can get up.
The most important command you will teach is recall. Puppies learn this easily because they don’t want to be far from you. Take advantage! With your puppy on a leash, toss a treat away from you so he has his back to you. Then, run back a couple of steps, calling your dog’s name excitedly. When he turns to run toward you, stop, hold the treat above his nose like you would for sit and say “come” as he sits. Then give lots of rewards and pet him around his collar. When he is doing this reliably, start saying the command instead of saying his name at the beginning and build up distance and distraction.
This is the backbone to a great training program. Just remember that when your dog hits 6 to 12 months, he will hit his teenager phase, and sticking with your training program will be important for a great adult dog.