Puppy Training: The Basics For You and Your Canine Friend
Humans are taught how to behave over time, and the same occurs with dogs.
Some people might think that “dog training” refers to all sorts of gimmicky tricks – but in actual fact it can relate to something as basic as a command to sit.
Dogs don’t just pick up these commands naturally, owners play a part in this development and by nurturing it from an early age it can make the experience all the more pleasurable for all parties concerned.
We’ll now take a look at some of the best ways to teach you dog, primarily focusing on the two main forms of training; obedience and toilet training.
Getting basic obedience down to a tee
Let’s start with the most basic form of training; the one that most people are familiar with. It might seem a little too “basic” (particularly before we get onto more important matters such as toilet training), but it’s something that can breed good general behavior.
Being able to rely on your dog being able to perform basic tasks like staying and dropping objects is something that every dog owner should have available to them. Unfortunately, if you don’t crack this from the beginning, it can be hard to ingrain into them later on.
While there are plenty of advanced training techniques that you can progress to, the following can build some good groundwork and get things started.
We’ll start with the most famous one of the lot. The simple “sit” command might appear almost “too basic”, but hold on tight. This is one that can quickly allow you to control your dog and is regarded as one of the best commands to teach from an early age. It can breed that elusive respect between puppy and owner to make further progress.
Arguably more practical, the stay command will naturally tell your dog to keep in the same place. From a safety concern this can be crucial; if your dog is at the other side of a busy road the “stay” command could work wonders.
Some owners are happy to be dragged around the park – but we’re going to assume you don’t fall into this category. The “heel” command stops the dreaded pulling and allows walks to be blissful. Additionally, unknown to some, it can be used without a lead as well.
Usually going by the command “come”, this should make your dog return to you at any given situation. Again, it’s invaluable in offering protection to your dog in some circumstances.
Once again safety is paramount here. If your dog picks something untoward up, successful use of the “drop” command can make them drop it immediately.
The majority of trainers opt for a “positive reinforcement” approach to the above commands. In other words, this means that you will reward your dog every time that they successfully complete one of the tasks. This could be in the form of food, play or something else that your dog likes.
The general consensus is that this makes learning enjoyable for your dog and means that you can use the teaching experience as a bonding phase as well.
Toilet training: the most frustrating part of training
Next on our list is toilet training. In all truth, few introductions need to be made here – while humans may take several years to master it, the same cannot be expected of dogs. In other words, it needs ticking off right away.
Unfortunately, this is another of those occasions which can bring on stress for the typical owner. There will be blips, there will be accidents and you will have to mop the floor from time-to-time.
The general advice is to start from a young age, but not too young – we’re talking around 3 to 4 months old. If you do try any younger than this, there’s a chance that the dog won’t have developed sufficient control within their bladder and bowel.
As you start your training, you should restrict the puppy to a small area. By doing this, you’ll be conveying the message that toilet-duties should only be performed outside, and only when this is achieved can their “restricted” area be enlarged.
There are several other suggestions to perfect this area of training as well, which we’ll now go through.
Issue praise where it’s due
Just like young children, your puppy doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong yet. As such, it’s your role to reinforce this message and highlight when they have successfully been to the toilet.
Of course, words aren’t always enough. You might sometimes have to rely on treats or even toys – just something to show that this behavior is the right thing to do.
Your dog will have its own outside “spot”
Most owners tend to find that their dog has its own spot outside, and they will try and direct their toilet activities towards it all the time.
For those of you with yards, this tip is probably somewhat redundant. However, if you’re taking your puppy for a walk, make sure you pass this “spot” in a bid to encourage successful toilet training.
Keep the clock on mealtimes
If you were to rearrange your own mealtimes, your bowel and bladder movements would most probably change as well. Well, the same applies to dogs.
Try to keep your puppy on a regular schedule at all times. This also includes snacking as again, it can wreak havoc with their bowel and cause any previous training to become completely defunct!
Apply the same rules with toilet opportunities
We’ve just spoken about the importance of keeping mealtimes to a regular schedule and suffice to say, the same needs to apply to when you offer potty opportunities.
First and foremost, you should be making sure that your dog has plenty of chances to go outside and empty its bladder. Then, you should be making sure that this happens all through the day. An example schedule could be heading outside in the morning, then at least every sixty minutes through the course of the day. They may not go every time, but it will give you an idea of how their schedule needs to be adapted for the future.