If you are reading this, you may have just recently acquired a puppy or are at least thinking about it. Hopefully you followed my previous post regarding Guidelines for Acquiring a New Puppy. Now is the time for the important work of training your new companion. Improper training is one of the major reasons for owner surrender of dogs. If an owner can control their dog they are more likely to keep them. Also a well trained dog can save you a lot of heartaches because it means less destructive behavior or other undesired actions.
When do you start training a puppy?
You can train your puppy as soon as you bring it home. You will want to start with house training, basic commands such as sit, down, stay, and socialization with people.
What’s involved in training?
Using food treats is a popular method to encourage your puppy to perform desired tasks. The puppy is first shown the treat, given the command, and the treat is moved to get the desired behavior. A good example of this is when you are teaching the sit command, you can hold the treat over the puppy’s nose and move it slowly backwards to get a sit response. Holding the treat out at a distance will get the puppy to come and holding the food down toward the floor will elicit the down response. It will be important to pair a command phrase with each action and give a reward for the desired response. With repetition the puppy will learn the words associated with the specific command and hand signal . Eventually you will want the puppy to not require a treat after giving a command so you will need to phase this out. Once it starts to respond with the desired behavior you can start to hide the food in your hands, but give the command and repeat the signal she has learned. When your puppy performs the desired task you can begin to reward with praise and alternate with a food treat. Eventually you just want to reward with praise. In time this praise becomes a secondary reinforcement.
How much time is needed to train my puppy?
As I mentioned in the Guidelines for Acquiring a New Puppy a time commitment is required to train your puppy. The amount of time needed varies from puppy to puppy but a goal should be set. You should aim to train for at least 15 minutes a day. This can be spread out or broken up into in short 5 minute intervals throughout the day. Involve all family members to encourage consistency with training. These training sessions should integrate your puppy into your life. She should be expected to obey commands at meal time, when going for a walk, meeting other people and socializing with other dogs. By training your dog all the time, throughout the day, you are establishing yourself as the leader.
Should you consider training classes?
If you are brand new to owning a puppy or if it has been a long time then you should seriously consider it. Training classes can teach you techniques that help guide you through the process. They also helpful for advising, you about common puppy training problems, and can help advance training to more difficult tasks. If you attend classes, it will give your puppy an opportunity to learn in a group situation with real life distractions. Also it can be an excellent way to socialize your puppy to people and other dogs.
If attending classes are inconvenient for you then there are a few courses online that provide video instruction so you can train your puppy in the convenience of your home. Here are 2 popular courses that provide video training exercises.
Doggy Dan’s Online Dog training is a subscription service that offers videos on how to train your dog in different situations. They do offer a 1$ trial option prior to committing to a long term subscription. If you are a visual learner, this may be a good option for you. Also if you wish to get sample videos of this service, subscribe to the Animal Doctor Blog.
The Dog Training system is another video training system. They also offer videos on training your puppy on performing particular tasks. Instead of a subscription fee, they charge a one time access fee to use their service. They also offer a 21 day trial for $5 that you can take advantage of prior to paying full price. In comparison to the Doggy Dan Online Dog Trainer this service does not have as many videos but you may still found it very helpful.
Just remember whatever training mechanism you choose, training your dog is life long process. Being consistent is the key to success. Success is the key to having a happy relationship with your pet.