Crucial tips to help make puppy training fun and effective!
Basic obedience training is very important early on for puppies to learn manners, get rid of unwanted behaviors, and grow mentally and physically in preparation for adulthood. Starting as soon as your puppy arrives, the rule of thumb is to establish boundaries. Make sure you as a pack leader establishes what is acceptable and what is not. Read on to learn more about curbing common puppy problems.
Puppy biting is an all-too-common behavior that occurs in puppies during the teething stage (8 weeks-6 months). Many owners make the mistake of assuming that this unwanted behavior just a phase that will eventually pass if you let it happen or just ignore it. Some also mistake it for ‘play biting.’ If you do not reinforce to your puppy that biting, even play biting or mouthing, is not accepted she will continue to exhibit the behavior once she is an adult.
One technique that has worked for me is I make a loud, high pitched sound (OUCH!) to indicate that biting hurts me. I stop all interaction with the puppy and ignore her for 1-2 minutes then start playing again, and repeat these 3 steps until she learns that any form of biting is unacceptable. *Consistency is key here; do not allow biting sometimes and punish it other times. This will only confuse your puppy, set her up to fail, and weaken the training process.*
Jumping up on People
When you have guests over at your house and your puppy or dog jumps on them to say hello, it can become an unwelcome gesture especially if your guests are not dog-friendly. Although this seemingly harmless behavior is only a friendly hello from your pup, it can become a nuisance when you’re out with your pup and it can be a invasion of your personal space.
The same protocol goes for begging for food and anything else that disrespects your space/property. An effective training method is to take two fingers (index and middle finger) and give your pup a push on its side by the ribs with a firm “no” whenever she jumps on you or gets too close to you. Make sure you are calm and assertive when doing this, and not angry or silly. Repeat this as necessary until your pup understands no jumping or begging for attention or food. Your pup will get tired and stop. *Do not simply nudge your pup off of you because she will think you are playing a back-and-forth game.*
Getting your puppy acquainted with many different dogs and people is one key component to a healthy and stable dog. In any situation, you cannot control how another dog or person behaves, but you do have control over your own dog.
Start by having your pup meet another FRIENDLY dog or pup that you know well (a family member’s, neighbor’s, friend’s, etc) in a safe and controlled environment such as your backyard. If it is their first time meeting, keep them on leash before you determine they are both friendly with one another. Pay attention to any signs from either dog. Be mindful that some adult dogs may be puppy-intolerant; they will likely react in fear or aggression if your pup is too much for them to handle. *The most important thing is for you to be calm and confident. If you are nervous, you will transmit that energy to the dogs around you!*
When having your puppy meet new people, take her outside and allow strangers, friends, and family interact with your puppy. Supervise and make sure they are treating your puppy gently and nicely. Also bring friends and family over to your house to meet your puppy so she can get used to guests coming over. This can help avoid territorial behavior such as barking at guests later on.
We all hope that our puppies will become loyal dogs that heel and obey our commands without fail – in any place and time. More than that, we want to give our dogs freedom to roam and have access to the outdoors without the fear that they will not come when their name is called or run into danger. But perfect recall and off-leash freedom will not happen without patience, dedication, and lots of training early on in puppyhood.
To start, take your puppy to a secure location where you are safe (no cars around; like a secluded field or your enclosed backyard). Take her leash off and encourage her to explore within appropriate distance. Walk away from your pup and call her name. Make it fun and rewarding! If your pup is food or toy-motivated, use treats or toys to entice her to follow you. Make high-pitched noises to further encourage them to come to you and play. Give a little chase with them and encourage them to chase after you. The most important lesson is for them to associate you with being a FUN, DEPENDABLE PACK LEADER! In other words, YOU are the ultimate source of everything fun and yummy and who wouldn’t want to follow you around?
A Whole New World
Taking your puppy outdoors and letting them explore the big, big world is not only big part of responsible pet ownership, but also a top component of their mental and physical development. Walks are overlooked by many dog owners because they believe walks are only a quick 5-minute trip outside to do their ‘business.’ Exercise is very important to your dog’s health, happiness, and wellbeing because it relieves anxiety and stress, naturally curbs unwanted behaviors, reduces pent up energy, and makes them balanced, non-reactive dogs.
When it is your first time taking your puppy outside, most likely she will be uncertain and hesitant to explore on her own. Start by walking around the neighborhood with your puppy in your arms. Explore the quiet areas and also the noisy, busy streets. This allows them to get used to loud noises (traffic, honking), fast moving things (vehicles), and other potential stressors. When your puppy is able to handle this after a few sessions, advance to doing the same thing on leash. *Make sure you are using a standard 5-6 feet lead and have it shortened in your grip to prevent wandering or running off.*
Besides just exploring city concrete-paved roads, new terrains such as forests, mountains, beaches, and hiking trails have a lot to offer you and your puppy. They give her the experience of different ground texture, smells, noises, etc. The introduction of different places early on will contribute to your pup being non-reactive to environmental stressors such as noises, people, and animals.
DISCLAIMER: Everything stated above is from personal experience. They are all tried and true methods that I have learned from friends, professionals, and online resources that have helped me with puppy training.