Most seasoned dog trainers would agree that the earlier you begin training your puppy, the stronger the training foundation is that will provide you with that better mannered dog in their adult years.
This now brings us to the question, “How soon can I start training my new puppy to avoid potential dog problems?”
Puppies can be trained at any age – even 8 weeks. Reward-based training or positive reinforcement training is best and, if you can condition your puppy to a clicker that’s even better. There are a number of benefits to “clicker training” your new puppy. Here are a couple of good reasons:
- • The clicker provides a consistent sound to your puppy no matter who uses it. Remember, consistency and repetition is needed in good puppy training.
- • Unlike your voice, the clicker is a sharp, crisp non emotional sound that provides your puppy with a special and unique way to identify behaviors he performs (like sits and downs) that produces a food treat. For example, when your puppy sits, click then treat.
Follow these basic rules to keep training fun for your puppy:
- Be consistent in your training. Train simple come, sit and down three times daily for no longer than 2 minutes and do it the same way every single time. It doesn’t really take much time out of your schedule. Setting aside 2 minutes three times daily 2 minutes is a great start. Puppies have a short attention span and will tire and get bored quickly. That’s why we keep it short.
- Never, ever punish your puppy in any way, shape or form. If your puppy does not obey a command simply say wrong in a neutral tone of voice and start again. It’s really that simple.
- Keep your expectations in line with reality. Do not expect a young, 8 week old puppy to be able to hold a sit or a down for more than a few seconds.
- Be consistent with your command each time. Pick one word and stick to it. Speaking in sentences or multiple words will not be as easy for your new puppy to learn. One behavior – one command word.
- Begin to train around relevant distractions. For example, if you always have a house full of kids, begin training your puppy around kids once he’s learned to obey his commands only with you.
- As your puppy begins to learn and perform his come, sit and down commands each and every time when asked, wean him off food treats by giving him a treat every other time and then even less frequently after that. Always click when your puppy performs a behavior properly. Your clicker will eventually be replaced with praise.
- For those of you that do not want to use a clicker, simply use your voice by saying, “Yes!” or “Good!” followed by a food treat when your puppy performs a command.
There is a lot to learn in training a puppy. If done correctly, it can be a process filled with fun – and obedience. This begins to set that strong foundation you will need to rely on when your new puppy becomes an adult dog. The one message to take away is “consistently” set aside time every single day as described above to work your puppy.
These are just some of the basics that will help you get started on the right foot with your puppy. Puppies are very smart and learn quickly, especially when they are taught from an early age.
Jim’s Nose to Tail Puppy Training is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your puppy understands what you expect of him because you know how to teach him. You empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home. The result – one awesome puppy and one happy family.
Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”
(C) Jim Burwell 2010
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