Training Your Puppy! Start with the Basics
Any time you are training your puppy, maintain a firm but friendly voice; the puppy needs to see you as its pack leader, the voice of authority. This doesn’t mean that you should ever yell or shout at your puppy or dog, but maintaining a clear firm tone sends a clear firm message. Remember as well that punishment such as swatting with a newspaper or rubbing the dog’s nose in a soiled spot they created only tends to teach your dog to fear you; ideally, your puppy or dog will do what you command because they want to please you and they prefer order and discipline, like any creature does.
Here is a very good book that I recommend wholeheartedly that will “take you by the hand” and show you how to lay down the house rules for your dog. This book if followed properly will prevent a lot of behavioral problems that can occur later on.
When you are training your puppy or dog remember a few cardinal rules: first, be patient. Learning anything takes time for any creature, and becoming impatient with your dog’s progress will in no way help to speed that progress up. Next, make sure you keep the training sessions within a reasonable time schedule; 15 minutes or so is usually the longest amount of time a dog can spend at a time learning, before distractibility sets in. Next, make sure you always chose the same spot and preferably the same time in which to train; this is again a lesson in absolute consistency and teaches your dog or puppy when and where they are expected to engage in appropriate training behavior. Finally, try and make the training enjoyable for both of you…your dog wants very much to please you and will revel in the attention you will be lavishing on it while you are in training mode.
Teaching dogs obedience is crucial. Dogs are pack animals, so they therefore inherently seek out a leader—that leader should definitely be you. Failure to train your dog to be obedient is not only irresponsible, it is also potentially dangerous. A dog that won’t respond when it is commanded to stop is a dog that is out of control, and a lack of control is a recipe for disaster, not to mention enormous frustration. Keeping in mind a few simple concepts will help to smooth the training road.
First of all, consistency is the key. If your dog always knows what to expect—reward or punishment -it has a higher chance of being consistent itself. Along with consistency there is the need for constant repetition. Doing the same things over and over will ingrain the behavior in the dog’s head and soon they will be behaving by rote. Also remember that timing is absolutely critical; correcting misbehavior on the spot is necessary, as dogs have very limited short-term memory…trying to punish or reward hours after something has happened will simply confuse your dog and perhaps inadvertently reinforce inappropriate behaviors. Finally, avoid using food as reward, unless you plan on having doggy-treats on hands at every moment for the rest of your life! Again, the puppy or dog needs to be obedient because that is a basic expectation and because that is what they truly crave: positive attention, discipline, and consistency. Using these fundamental steps is the beginning of more advanced training and will go a long way toward ensuring you have a well-behaved and pleasant canine companion.