The puppy phase can cost you a lot of money in damages to shoes, furniture, and just about anything that the adorable little creature can sink their teeth in. I know I hauled a $1,000 couch to the dump after my beloved little monster stopped being such a menace with some consistent training.
With today’s busy lifestyles and easy screen distractions, we felt it was important to provide a simple, direct and easy to use guide for training a new puppy in today’s world.
Deciding on the proper training method will be one of the biggest aspects you have to have in place before bringing home a new doggo. Having that plan known beforehand and sticking to it will be the best gift you can give to your new four-legged friend. That brings me to rule one.
- Be consistent.
It pays to take the time before you even bring the little darling home, or immediately thereafter, to decide clearly what the rules are. What are the boundaries? Are they allowed on the furniture, on the bed, in the bedrooms? The whole family has to know and agree to maintain the rules no matter what. Think about sleeping arrangement and location, kennel use, table scraps, potty spot if left home for hours. If you do not have absolute consistency you will have a confused and naughty pet.
- Set up a “Den”.
Dogs need a space of their own and some breeds really love to burrow. Having a “dog room or large kennel that they can go to or sleep in is really important. This should be one of the things that you do from day one. Especially if there are young kids around and the pup needs a break. Enforce the rules with the children as well regarding the dog. Dogs do like alone time.
- Choose a name and stick with it.
Having an easy to say name with a single or two syllables makes it easy for the dog to learn and respond to their name. Names are what you command them with so they know it is them that you are speaking to. Start out saying “Name of the dog” No or good boy. Say their name a lot when new or young. Old dogs can be renamed if they came from a shelter or something. Dogs are resilient creatures and old dogs can learn new tricks if you try.
- Start out calm.
When you bring home a new pup or adult they are coming from a situation that likely had other dogs and tons of noise. Dogs are pack animals and they may have been used to sleeping with littermates. Sometimes a new puppy might want a warm hot water bottle or ticking clock to imitate heartbeats in the sleeping area to help them relax and feel comfortable. Stuffed animals can even be helpful to a puppy you are trying to train to sleep alone.
- Reward good behavior.
It is a great idea to love on the dog as well as give treats with commands you are trying to train them on. Positive reinforcement is hands down, the way to go. Yelling and physical punishment are not usually appropriate unless you catch them in the act of naughtiness. Getting them to follow commands is done with work. It takes time and patience. “What a good dog” is a great way to acknowledge the stuff they do right.
- Teach them to come when called.
This is one of the most important commands as it is a safety issue. If there is an off-leash situation or escape it can mean life or death for the dog. Excited puppies love to run and they have so much energy it is hard to contain them. A sudden moment of freedom can end tragically in traffic. Start off as soon as you get the dog and work on this one every day for a few minutes with treats. Go to a fenced area and let them off leash then call and reward over and over. This helps establish alpha as well.
- Establish Alpha.
The Alpha for a pack animal is the leader. You must assume this role or you will wish you had. This is a pretty easy thing to do it is called being the boss. Look the dog in the eye, give them commands, make them comply. Pinning a dog down gently and physically maneuvering them when they are little can establish that. Leaders lead. You should go through doors first. Let them lick you sometimes as they are supposed to help groom the Alpha. If they jump up, most professional trainers recommend gently shoving them away and ignoring them. This cold shoulder effect can be very workable.
- Train in dog time.
Dogs are pretty intelligent and have decent memories but if you scold or punish for something that was done beyond the last minute or two it can be confusing. Dogs live in the now and rewards and discouragements must be done at the time of behavior. Finding a ripped up room after being gone for 5 hours it is hard not to yell and scream about your favorite shoes that are shredded. Just take a minute to remember you probably did not leave out enough chew toys and appropriate things to keep them occupied.
- Train with a purpose.
Think about what you are wanting to train and set aside the time to do it. Go to classes with the pet. Read some books or go online and watch some videos on how to really do a good job with your dog. It takes effort but like any good thing in life you get back what you put into it.
Being the pack leader to your pack animal is the basis for good training. Dogs and kids need some control in their lives to grow up to be pleasant to be around and to be good friends.
Always end on a positive note with every training session and please know that love is the best approach, never anger.
We all have the best intentions when deciding to bring home a new member of the family. Just a few steps of knowing how to train, execution and consistency is the way to go. And as always, if you need a good harness & leash, EcoBark Pet has you covered. Best of luck and always keep them safe and secure.