Training your dog since puppyhood is the cornerstone of successful dog ownership. Moreover, as long as you approach the process with the right attitude, training your pup will be a fulfilling, mutually beneficial experience and a lot of fun. Eight weeks is a good place to start, but nothing is stopping you from introducing your dog to the fundamentals of discipline even earlier. Either way, these are the ten quintessential tips to get you started on the right track.
All Things Puppy Training
When it comes to potty training, the name of the game is patience. You must understand that most puppies will take until around four months of age to develop full control over their bathroom needs. Until that time, accidents are a constant possibility, even if you are training the pup. Therefore, it is a good idea to limit your small pet’s freedom of movement around the house in that time. Make sure that your pup is also on a strict schedule from early on concerning most things in life, including meals, outdoor time, and going to the bathroom.
Giving your dog a crate will serve to build a sort of den for your pet. It is a part of a dog’s natural disposition to want a safe, trusted place to lay his head, and his crate and the area around it will serve this purpose from early on as long as you make it a habit. The idea is to let your dog know that his crate is a welcoming, pleasant place by putting some of his favorite things and treats inside to make it appealing.
The Sit Command
This is the all-important first step for most dog owners who get involved in obedience training and it provides a crucial foundation for other, more advanced commands. As long as you adhere to the basic principles of dog training, you will find that teaching your pet to sit on command is something that comes easy even for small puppies, as most of them will be quick to pick up on the concept.
Coming when Called
This is an important thing to teach your pet from an early age because it forms the very basis of control and discipline. Your dog must be taught a name and to come when called upon. You can’t have your pet ignoring you and going wherever he wants without restraint, as this kind of unruly behavior is above all dangerous.
Positive Reinforcement and Rewards
These principles are the very core of dog training. Avoid scolding your pup for making a mistake, as this kind of approach will seldom bear any fruit. Instead of punishing bad behavior, a responsible dog owner should reward and reinforce good behavior. This is mostly done through two of a dog’s favorite things: treats and praise.
It’s as simple as it sounds. Your dog needs love and affection almost just as much as he needs food and water. These creatures depend on our approval and praise, so make sure they get it. Beware, however, that you don’t spoil your pet by giving affection even when they disobey.
Training your dog correctly will require a consistent, prolonged effort. Take up training sessions on a regular basis and make sure you don’t lose your patience. Most importantly, make sure that your family members are up to speed on what you are trying to teach your pet, so that the dog isn’t confused by different people approving of different behavior.
Understand that restricting your dog’s behavior isn’t any kind of punishment. In fact, it is without a doubt in your dog’s best interest to be under control. Dogs thrive on pleasing their owners, but more importantly, when they are under control they are safe.
What is Reinforcement?
Reinforcement works both ways. Through the principles of reward, one can reinforce both bad and good behavior in their dog. If your dog barks too much or is restless, giving him a treat to calm him down is a terrible idea. The same goes for petting a dog when he acts up. Remember, praise and treats are the ultimate reward. And whatever you reward will be what your dog continues to do.
This applies both to you and your dog. Just because you have a German Shepherd doesn’t mean he or she will grow up to be an elite canine like those in the military. It’s likely that your dog will often not understand what you want, so it’s sometimes okay to take a break and give it another shot tomorrow, as long as you stay patient, persistent, and positive.