Everyone wants a well-behaved happy dog, one that will heel when walking down the street, play gently with the children, or bark only when there is a danger. This doesn’t happen naturally: dogs are animals and will behave as such unless you help teach them some basic puppy obedience.
What is puppy obedience training?
Many people think that it involves teaching puppies to complete artificial tricks so they can perform on cue. While obedience training for your puppy does involve some tricks, the goal is to redirect natural puppy instincts and behavior into those which are appropriate for a domestic setting. It also establishes good communication between puppy and owner and establishes a foundation to settle any future behavior issues.
One of the most important purposes of puppy obedience training is socialization. For instance, many dogs love to jump up on people. This is not appropriate, especially for children, guests, or people who are frightened of dogs. You have to take this behavior and redirect it. Some people teach their dogs to jump on them on command. The theory is that this way, the dog won’t do it unless commanded to. If this works for you and your dog, you have successfully used puppy obedience training.
Another example is your puppy’s behavior with other dogs. You don’t want your pet to act aggressively towards every dog you come across on your walk. With puppy training, you can learn to redirect that behavior so your dog is appropriately protective of you and your family but not overly aggressive towards innocent dogs on your walking route or at the dog park.
Learning For Both Of You
Dog training takes some skill but starts with understanding how a dog thinks. While your dog is learning what you are teaching him, you are learning what methods your dog responds to the best. Do a lot of different things to train your dog and give him or her a lot of positive compliments when he or she does something right! The happier your dog is, the more successful your training with him will be.
Anxious dogs are prone to chewing on things they shouldn’t. Using a dog gate to set aside his own space or a crate to confine his nervousness may provide him with the security he needs while you are away, and adding a chew toy may redirect some of his destructive tendencies.
Puppy Obedience and Dog Training Tips
Any age is appropriate for obedience training. It is great to start with your puppy so he doesn’t learn bad behaviors. It is also great to train older dogs. If you adopt or purchase a dog when it is older, you can train him to obey your rules and commands. It is also good to keep training your dog because even if he’s well-behaved as a puppy if training isn’t kept up, he may revert back to bad habits. You can train your puppy at home, at an obedience training class or school, or with a private trainer. Whatever you choose, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Praise, praise, praise. The best way to teach your dog acceptable behavior is to praise him when he does something good and even when you redirect a bad behavior. For example, if your dog goes to sit by the door to signal he’s ready to go relieve himself, praise him with a simple, “Good dog.” If you catch him getting ready to go inside, take him outside. Once he goes outside, praise him. That way he learns that outside is the place to relieve himself.
- Don’t punish your dog unless you catch him in the act. Even then, keep in mind that yelling, hitting, or banishing your dog DOES NOT WORK. In fact, those are good ways of training your dog to be aggressive and disobedient. Instead, you can try squirting your dog with a water bottle, sternly saying “No,” or redirecting behavior. Try to prevent bad behavior, but if it does happen, show your dog what he should have done. Training is the perfect time to not only teach your pet but to also talk with him, as this builds a very positive relationship.
- Be patient with your pet. He’ll get it, he just needs some time and some help from you.
- Identify the specific problem and get help. For instance, if your dog has a problem with chewing, figure out why. It could be just the natural puppy urge to chew. If so, provide great toys and treats. If it is due to separation anxiety, you can try crate training.
- Teach your puppy tricks like shake paw and roll over. These are fun and enjoyable for the dog and gives you a chance to praise him. They also gently remind the dog that you are the boss. There is no need for you to engage in alpha-dog behavior like wrestling and staring contests – these little tricks let your dog know you’re in charge.
- Don’t overdo your training sessions, keep them brief and interesting for best results. By spending too long on any single thing, your dog will likely become very bored and antsy. This is why you need to limit the time of your training sessions to around 10 minutes.
- If you want to train your dog to complete complex tasks, divide that task into steps to teach him. For example, you can get your dog to bring in your newspaper. He will first need to learn how to hold onto something. Next, you need to teach him how to identify the object by name. He then should know how to pick the object up. At last, he will carry it over to you. If the behavior is broken down into steps, the dog will more easily understand what is expected of him.
The key is to be consistent and patient with your animal. Let your puppy know what you expect and make sure he follows your commands. Remember, a puppy is a pet, someone to keep you company. He also depends on you: make sure you make puppy obedience training enjoyable and effective for both of you.
You may also want to read our post “The Novices Guide To Dog Training“