Welcoming a new puppy into your home is a joyous occasion filled with excitement and perhaps a bit of trepidation, especially when it comes to training your new four-legged friend.
Training a puppy requires patience, consistency, and knowledge of the essential commands that will ensure their safety as they begin to explore their new world. Regardless of the breed, whether a tiny Yorkshire Terrier or energetic Bordoodle, all dogs benefit from this type of basic obedience training.
Positive reinforcement is a powerful technique in puppy training. This method is so effective, most reputable stud owners implement the approach. It focuses on rewarding good behaviour with treats, praise, or petting, which encourages your puppy to repeat the behaviour in the future. When your puppy performs a command correctly, promptly reward them to reinforce the connection between their action and the reward.
Clicker training is a subset of positive reinforcement, where a small device that emits a distinct sound, or “click,” is used to signal your puppy they’ve done something right. The clicker sound is then followed by a reward. The goal is to help the puppy associate the click with a reward so that over time, the click itself becomes a positive reinforcement.
Consistency and Routine
Consistency and routine are crucial in puppy training. If you use a specific command for a particular action, everyone in the household should use the same word for that action. It is also vital to establish a consistent routine for feeding, walking, and training sessions. This helps your puppy understand what to expect and when.
Start with simpler commands before progressing to more complex ones. As your puppy gets better at responding to simple commands, gradually increase the level of difficulty. This gradual progression builds your puppy’s confidence and establishes a strong training foundation.
Use: The “Sit” command is commonly used to control the puppy’s behaviour and get their attention. It’s useful in preventing unwanted behaviours like jumping on people or dashing out of the door.
Training Progression: Start by holding a treat close to the puppy’s nose, then move your hand up, allowing the puppy’s head to follow the treat causing its bottom to lower. Once the puppy is in the sitting position, say “Sit,” give the treat, and share affection.
Use: The “Stay” command is vital for your puppy’s safety, especially in potentially dangerous situations. For example, it can prevent them from running into the street or approaching a hostile animal.
Training Progression: This command requires the puppy to already know the “Sit” command. Ask your puppy to “Sit,” then open the palm of your hand in front of you and say “Stay.” Take a few steps back. If your puppy stays, reward them with a treat. Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat.
Use: The “Come” command is beneficial when you need your puppy to return to you quickly, such as if they escape the yard or if you’re in a public place.
Training Progression: Use a leash for this command initially. Crouch down to your puppy’s level, gently pull on the leash, and say “Come.” When the puppy comes to you, reward them with a treat and affection. Over time, you can practise this command off-leash in a secure, enclosed area.
4. “Leave it”
Use: The “Leave it” command helps protect your puppy from potentially harmful objects they may try to eat off the ground or when they’re chewing something they shouldn’t.
Training Progression: Hold a treat in both hands. Show the puppy one closed fist with the treat inside, and say, “Leave it.” Ignore the behaviours your puppy uses to get the treat. Once they stop trying, give them the treat from the other hand. This teaches them that leaving something alone leads to a tasty reward.
Advanced Commands and Tricks
As your puppy grows older and masters the basic commands, you can introduce more advanced commands and tricks, such as “Heel,” “Place,” “Fetch,” or “Roll Over.”
While these are less critical for safety, they can provide mental stimulation, enhance your bond with your puppy, and even show off a bit to your friends and family. They follow a similar training progression — start simple, be consistent, use positive reinforcement, and gradually increase the level of difficulty.
Training your new puppy can be a challenging but rewarding experience. It’s important to be patient and consistent, celebrate the small victories, and remember that every puppy learns at their own pace.
Keep in mind that training isn’t just about teaching commands; it’s also an excellent opportunity to establish a strong bond with your new furry friend. In the long run, a well-trained puppy grows into a well-behaved dog, making your life and theirs more enjoyable.