Getting Tough on Them is Hard, but It's Worth it In the Long Run
You have just arrived home with your new puppy, and as you bask in the glow of their cuteness, you suddenly realize that this is where the hard work begins.
If you haven’t already bought a book or two on puppy training, now might be a great time to do so. The better prepared you are, the more success you will have. The dedicated and consistent work you put in with your puppy now will lead to a long and harmonious life ahead of you with your new canine companion.
DIY vs. Puppy School
Puppy school can be a great way to socialize your dog and help bring out the best in them. However, even if you take advantage of your local training school, you still need to remember that a lot of work still needs to happen at home.
A puppy school will be able to give you tips and help with particular problems, but it’s you who will have to be consistent with your dog on a daily basis when it comes to house training, food control, and learning basic obedience commands.
Start as You Mean to Go On
As soon as you bring your puppy home everyone in the house needs to be aware of the rules and apply them consistently. This can be difficult, especially if you have children, because with the rush of enthusiasm everyone will want to play with the puppy, and this does little to set a routine.
If you have decided your puppy will be crate trained, or you want them to sleep in a particular room, you need to enforce this from the beginning. Allowing a dog to sleep in your room on the first night because they are crying is going to make it very difficult to enforce rules going forward.
Puppies love to chew, go places they shouldn’t, and ultimately get into all sorts of mischief. You need to catch them in the act, tell them ‘no’ calmly but firmly, and then give them an alternative activity. For example, if you find them chewing something they shouldn’t, take the item away, and give them one of their own toys to chew.
One of the best things you can do early on is puppy-proof your home. Hide anything valuable so it doesn’t get destroyed, and prevent access to areas where a puppy might fall or eat something they shouldn’t. Research which foods are dangerous to dogs and make sure that your puppy never comes in contact with them.
Chocolate is toxic to dogs, but is a relatively easy thing for them to find, so always be on guard when you have a new arrival in the house.
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Reward Your Dog
It’s always best to reward your dog for good behavior and not punish them for bad. Let’s say a puppy has an accident on the kitchen floor. If you shout at them, they will not necessarily associate the shouting with the puddle that has appeared, particularly if there has been a gap in time between the crime and the punishment.
Instead it’s always best to reward your dog with praise, and sometimes treats, when you catch them behaving well. When your puppy trots into the yard to spend a penny, make a huge fuss and praise them so they understand that this behavior will be rewarded.
Clicker training is another reward system where the dog associates the sound with performing a behavior that makes their owner happy. The sound of the clicker can speed training up as the noise helps your dog identify the exact behavior that will result in a treat. You can purchase books on clicker training, and the clickers themselves can be found at your local pet store, or online.
Dogs look to you for approval and they love attention. That’s why it’s important not to pander to this need if they are doing something you don’t approve of. Say your puppy is behaving badly and jumping up when you don’t want them to. If you start interacting at this stage, it can start to seem like more of a game which will only serve to make your puppy more enthusiastic.
Instead, turn your back and walk away. Not giving attention to a bad habit can make it fall away naturally. The younger you start this with puppies, the better.
There is a great deal involved with training a puppy and it’s vital you do your research or get help in each of the key areas. At first it can seem like an endless round of picking up chewed items, telling the puppy not to do something, and wondering when they will ever learn to ask to go outside at the appropriate time.
However, if you are consistent, you will be rewarded with a dog who loves to please you, and is a great companion for you and your family for many years to come.