I recently answered an e-mail from a mom thinking about getting her two children a puppy for Christmas. A quick review, never get anyone of any age a “surprise” puppy, and adoption is always best. So, for those of you who have decided to take the big step of adding a dog to your family, these are the 7 puppy training commandments you should know:
- Be consistent in your training. Train simple come, sit and down three times daily for no longer than 2 minutes and do it the same way every single time. It doesn’t really take much time out of your schedule. Setting aside 2 minutes three times daily 2 minutes is a great start. Puppies have a short attention span and will tire and get bored quickly. That’s why we keep it short.
- Never, ever punish your puppy in any way, shape or form. If your puppy does not obey a command simply say wrong in a neutral tone of voice and start again. It’s really that simple.
- Keep your expectations in line with reality. Do not expect a young, 8 week old puppy to be able to hold a sit or a down for more than a few seconds.
- Be consistent with your command each time. Pick one word and stick to it. Speaking in sentences or multiple words will not be as easy for your new puppy to learn. One behavior – one command word.
- Begin to train around relevant distractions. For example, if you always have a house full of kids, begin training your puppy around kids once he’s learned to obey his commands only with you.
- As your puppy begins to learn and perform his come, sit and down commands each and every time when asked, wean him off food treats by giving him a treat every other time and then even less frequently after that. Always click when your puppy performs a behavior properly. Your clicker will eventually be replaced with praise.
- For those of you that do not want to use a clicker, simply use your voice by saying, “Yes!” or “Good!” followed by a food treat when your puppy performs a command.
Be as comfortable with trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”