This January marks the 7th annual Train Your Dog month! Whether people have added a new puppy to the brood that needs housetraining, or have an old dog that wants to learn some new tricks, dog owners everywhere are brushing up on their obedience training skills. We’ve decided to provide some puppy training tips, just in case YOU have any new additions to the family! Read on for five effective ways to teach your pup some basic manners.
The earlier you start your new puppy’s training, the better. This insures that your pup doesn’t learn any bad habits that he’ll have to unlearn as time goes on (it’s much easier for puppies to learn to do something rather than having to override it later!). This is especially true for housetraining.
Set your pup up for success by showing him where it’s ok to use the bathroom, giving him positive reinforcement when he does it in the right area, keeping a close eye on him when he’s indoors to catch any mistakes before they happen, and having him sleep in a crate at night. Make sure to train him basic commands at the same time–many people think that housetraining should be done first, before any other training. But, as we’ve said before, the earlier you get started on training, the better! Housetraining and command training in tandem is highly effective, as your pup will be in learning mode. Just be sure not to bombard him with too much info!
Get everyone involved
Training your new puppy should be a family affair. Besides, who doesn’t want to teach her to “sit,” “roll over,” or “fetch?” Having your pup listen and become accustomed to all members of your family is essential for establishing the pecking order of her new “pack” (all humans are in charge, no matter how small they may be!). Having different people teaching your pup is also a great way for her to truly understand the commands she’s being given–and not just associating the command with a specific person’s tone of voice. You should also enroll your new pup in an obedience class, for more structured training. Here, she can also interact with other puppies and dogs, and will be in a different environment than your home–which is essential to a learning, growing puppy.
Keep it simple
There’s no need for your puppy to become the next Lassie. As long as you’re teaching her not to bite, not to use the bathroom in the house, not to bark at strangers (unless, of course, you DO want her to bark at strangers), and basic commands such as “sit,” “lay down,” and “heel,” then you’re doing the right job. As your pup starts to understand more and more, you can move on from basic commands to more interesting tricks (balance a biscuit on his nose, or chase his tail). But for now, simple is the way to go.
Don’t be negative
If your pup doesn’t understand something, it’s essential to stay positive and to NEVER yell at her. If you become angry, your pup will get confused. She doesn’t know what she’s doing wrong, and will assume you’re mad at her for trying–which is exactly what you don’t want to happen! Instead, use positive reinforcements such as praise, petting, and treats to encourage the good behavior that she does. Your pup will surely make mistakes (whether it’s soiling in the house or forgetting a command), so it’s important that you remember that training is a learning process. Repeat your teachings, be patient, and always, always stay positive.
Don’t give up
This should go without saying, but as training is so important, it’s worth mentioning! Never give up, no matter what. There will be setbacks, just as there will be advancement. Training your puppy holds a learning curve for both you AND her. If you feel that a tactic isn’t working (such as teaching her to heel by stopping constantly when out on walks) then change it (encourage her to stay near you with treats as you say “heel”). Be flexible, be patient, and know that any positive progress is better than no progress!
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We hope these tips will help you as you enter life with your new puppy! Happy training!