Getting a puppy does not automatically make you the best dog guardian in the world. You have to strive every day and work with your pup to develop an unbreakable bond and relationship between the two of you. The first step to gaining the confidence of your puppy is to train him or her. Training a puppy is the best way to ensure that you are bringing up an obedient and well-behaved dog.
To have successful puppy training sessions, there are a few points that you must keep in mind. You must first understand:
- Which of the puppy training methods are the most effective ones
- What should you do if your puppy is not following commands
- When is the right time to train?
- Which training method works best?
These are the factors that will be covered in this article today.
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Training a puppy: why bother?
Puppies are not born with an innate knowledge of how to behave in the presence of other puppies and humans. These must be taught to them. The mother dog is responsible for teaching the puppy bite inhibition, how to play with other dogs, and other dog behaviors. But this does not mean that the puppy will know how to behave in the presence of other humans. If your pup has been weaned off from the mother before time, there is a chance that the puppy may not have received this critical education from the mother. Therefore, the responsibility of properly training a puppy falls squarely on your shoulders as the guardian.
How do you know if you are on the right track when training a puppy? The following tips and tricks can help you become successful in puppy training.
Tips and tricks for training a puppy
Before you start the training process, understand what works best with your pup. Find out whether your puppy is food motivated, appreciation motivated, playtime motivated or is motivated by something else. This will help you in the future steps of puppy training. This should also be taken into consideration if you are training an adult or senior dog.
Tip one for training a puppy: never use punishment-based methods
Punishment or aversive methods make your puppy frightened of you. If your puppy does not develop a good relationship with you, the training method will never be successful, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, always make an effort to use only positive reinforcement during the training process. A lot of dog guardians are confused about the aversive training methods. They think that it is OK to give a puppy a slight hit or a little tap with a newspaper. However, this is not the right way to train your pup.
Aversive training methods will only instill fear and aggression in your pup. Your pup may follow you due to the fear of punishment. However, the close bond, friendship, and trust you want your puppy to have in you will never occur. Dogs have self-esteem of their own. If you give them respect, they will lay down their life for you. However, if you treat them harshly, they will develop aggressiveness, and insubordination and may even be a flight or bite risk when they grow up. Therefore, never use aversive training methods when training any dog.
Use positive training methods
Positive training methods involve
- Praising your puppy for displaying good behavior
- Not punishing your puppy for displaying wrong behavior
- Redirecting your puppy’s attention if he is starting to engage in an undesirable behavior
- Using treats and clicker training for training a puppy.
The above-mentioned options are just a few positive reinforcement methods that can be used when training a puppy. The primary thing to remember here is that dogs aim to please their guardians. Therefore, you don’t have to put in a lot of effort during the training process. You should focus on keeping your puppy’s attention on yourself and rewarding every behavior, even if it seems minor to you during the training stages.
Use a distraction-free environment for training
Puppies can get distracted very easily. Everything around them is new and full of excitement. Therefore, it is imperative that you use an environment that offers the least bit of distraction to your puppy during the training phase. This way, you can make sure that the attention of your pup stays on you and not on the environment.
Always use enticing treats
Treats are important. However, what’s more important than having treats is having good quality treats that are well-liked by your pup. Dogs are very food motivated. However, if they don’t like the treat that you offer, there is less chance that they will be inclined to follow your instructions. Therefore, make sure that the treats you are using are loved by your dog and he will do anything to get them.
Always reward positive behavior
Even if it is a small behavior is small and does not seem significant, reward it. This is especially important during the training phases. If a training module involves five steps and your pup struggles to follow all the steps, reward every step. This will keep your puppy motivated to follow through the other steps as well.
Remember to wean your pup off the treats
Using treats when training a puppy is extremely important. however, once your dog has started to respond to the command of his own free will, treats should be weaned off. If you keep awarding the behavior even after the successful training, your dog will keep expecting you to give him a treat when he follows the command. This may cause friction between your dog and you in later stages. Your dog may be reluctant to follow the command in emergencies because you don’t have a treat in your hand. Therefore, the treat must be weaned off after your dog has learnt the command.
Exercise patience in training a puppy
You cannot be a good dog guardian if you do not have patience. Any dog training book or video you go through, one point will always be highlighted. It is, that you must have patience when training a puppy or an adult dog. You can never have a successful training session if you are not patient with your pup. Puppies can either learn very fast or they can go a bit slow. Therefore, exercising patience is crucial.
Allow your puppy to take his time to learn new things. If you are training your puppy in the outside environment, there will be distractions, and your puppy may be distracted. Use treats or ‘look at me’ command to gain your pup’s attention before you give him the next command to follow. If you are feeling frustrated on a certain day, practice the commands your puppy already knows instead of teaching new commands. It is advisable not to teach new commands to your puppy when you are sad, angry or not in the right mood.
Focus on the basics
Before you start training your puppy in any of the complex commands, your puppy must know the ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘leave it’ commands. These three commands will help you lay down the foundation of all the other commands. Along with the above-mentioned commands, you must focus on getting the potty training, leash training and crate training out of the way. Once your puppy adapts to these five techniques, you can progress to adding in more difficult commands like spin, play dead, not jump on strangers, etcetera.
Focus on the right time to train your pup
Just as you need to be in the right frame of mind to successfully train your puppy, your puppy also needs to be in the right frame of mind to easily learn new things. Therefore, experts advise to not train your dog when your dog is feeling frustrated, tired or lethargic. The best time to train your dog is one hour before meal time or two hours after meal time. Remember to provide your dog an ample number of breaks even in the training session so that your dog does not get bored or frustrated with the training process.
Start the bite inhibition training from day one
Puppy nipping behavior is common across all pups. Therefore, bite inhibition is a crucial part of the process of training a puppy. As I mentioned before, mother dogs are responsible for teaching their puppies to not bite other dogs and play in the right manner. However, in most cases, puppies need to continue training even after they have been weaned from their mother and have gone to their forever homes.
Teaching your puppy bite inhibition is crucial since it will not only keep you safe from those shark-like puppy teeth, it will also protect the furniture of your house. If bite inhibition is not taught at early ages, your puppy can turn into a walking destroyer when he grows up. Bite inhibition will teach your puppy to understand the difference between a severe bite and a playful nip.
What to do if your dog is nervous?
Many dogs might come off as shy or nervous. If it seems to you that your pup is nervous, the first advice I would give you is to spend some time with your pup so that he feels more comfortable around you. Indulge your dog in a game of play, fetch or tug of war. These are great ways to break the ice with your pup and have him feel right at home. If you have a shy puppy, give him at least a week to settle in before you start with the training process.
A few other training tips for each shy or nervous puppy are:
- Show a positive and calm demeanor towards your pup. Reassure your dog if he seems to be uncomfortable.
- Never punish him
- Ensure that your dog associates every new thing he sees or learns about with a positive experience.
- If your dog seems afraid of strangers, ask people not to touch or approach your dog. You can also get a harness that says ‘do not touch’.
Work on behavioral issues
Despite providing the best training to your pup, sometimes they may start to display specific behavioral issues. The best way to tackle this problem is to nip it in the bud the moment it occurs. Most often, behavioral issues arise because the puppy is not getting the proper levels of exercise. Therefore, ensure that you are providing your puppy the right amount of exercise, mental stimulation, training, and many interesting toys to stay busy with. If your pup is mentally stimulated, there are fewer chances of behavioral issues setting in.
You can also enroll your pup in an obedience school or in a dog training center if you are finding it hard to train him yourself. Alternatively, you can also employ the help of dog behaviorists or dog trainers to help you with the process. The proper behavior must be taught to your puppy at an early age so you can prevent any behavioral issues from setting in later on.
Puppy school/dog daycare
If you are a first-time dog guardian, you may find it hard to train your puppy all by yourself. Do not fret. This is completely all right. In case you are getting overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of a new puppy, you can take your puppy to the puppy kindergarten class, also known as obedience school or puppy training school. Here dog training instructors will train you and your puppy in the right modes of communication, training methodologies and train your pup in the basic commands.
Alternatively, you can also enroll the help of a dog behaviorist or a dog trainer. They will come to your house to train your pup. However, I will advise you that you stay stick around during the training process. This will not only give you an insight into their training procedures, this will also show you how you can handle undesirable behavior from your pup in the absence of the trainer.
Training a puppy: conclusion
Training a puppy is not as hard as it may sound. All you need is a little bit of patience; some good quality treats and proper determination. You can quickly train your puppy without any help from anyone. However, if your puppy is very rambunctious or finding it hard to train your pup all on your own, you can go ahead with the puppy school, dog daycare, or a puppy trainer.
Before starting complex training, make sure to get at the simple commands like sit, stay, potty training, leash training, and crate training out of the way before you progress with the difficult commands like recall, off leash training etc. When training, always use positive reinforcement, and never use aversive methods like prong collars, hitting your pup with the newspaper etc.
If you want to know more about puppy training tips and tricks, please subscribe to The Happy Puppers. Your subscription will allow me to notify you when there is a new blog post release. If you like watching videos, please subscribe to the YouTube channel of The Happy Puppers, Shruti and Delta. Do not forget to ring the notification bell. If you have any queries about this blog post, feel free to reach me live on Twitch. I do co-working streams daily from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM Indian Standard Time. Alternatively, you can also reach me on any of my other social media channels. I will be happy to help.
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