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Puppy Obedience Training

When should I start? What should I teach my new puppy?



New puppy owners spend hours worrying about finding the right accessories, puppy treats, or bed. However, many spend little time thinking about what they will teach their new puppy and when they should start training. Puppies need nutritious food and a safe, warm place to live, just as much as they need training by a person they perceive as a leader.

Leadership Puppies are naturally hard-wired to follow the alpha of their pack. A “leader” is, by definition, strong, stable, consistent and able to guide others. Puppies sense our confidence levels so it’s important for you to maintain consistent. When puppies are left to be their own leader, bad behaviors, such as excessive barking, chewing, leash-pulling, or anxiety may develop. The most important thing you can do is become a positive leader for your dog. This role must begin as soon as you bring your dog home. For your new puppy to grow into a healthy, balanced dog, you must demonstrate leadership.

Behavioral training prevents and or corrects bad habits that your puppy may develop. Jumping, begging, and chewing are just a few of these habits. It is very important to take the time to learn natural dog behavior and satisfy the dog's natural instincts. This along with proper exercise will help you communicate to your dog and can mean the difference between success and failure.

Obedience training teaches your dog to obey certain commands such as sit, stay, come etc. Training sessions should be frequent but short to prevent your dog from becoming bored; ten to fifteen minute sessions, a couple times a day will be sufficient.

Before giving a word command to your dog, teach them to look at you when you call their name. This can be done with the word “yes” to mark the behaviour. When you say your dogs name and they look at you, immediately say “yes” and give your puppy a treat. This will teach your puppy to look at you when you call their name which will help with later commands.

When you start training other commands speak your pets name to get its attention; then speak a one-word command such as "stay," "sit," "come" or "heel." Never get impatient with your puppy. When you first start training a command will probably have to repeat the command many times. Never use negative reinforcement to train commands. For example never call your dog to “come” and then punishment them for coming to you; this will teach your dog not to come on command. Try your best to keep any frustration out of the tone of your voice. Dogs can hear tone in your voice and frustration in your voice will confuse them or make them nervous when training. If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, take a break. Remember, dogs can feel human emotion, so stay relaxed, firm and confident.

When teaching the commands, say them loudly and clearly. At first, dog may have to hear the commands over and over, but will soon begin to associate the word with its meaning. Always remember to reward your dog when it responds correctly. Rewards will encourage your dog to perform the exercise correctly the next time. You may either use food, affection or verbal praise as the reward.

Many basic training classes teach the heel command only in the advanced classes. The heel command should be one of the first things you teach your puppy. They heel command helps teach your dog to follow. Once you establish this all other aspects of training will be easier and their behavior in general will be better as the dog will learn to respect you as the leader.

Tip: training your dog before meals will help them associate their meal with a reward for the training and also make them more interested in the food treat you use.