There isn’t much that’s cuter than a puppy. It’s a good thing too. If they weren’t so adorable, puppy training might feel more overwhelming than it already is. Housetraining, chewing, walking on a leash and even getting them to sleep can be challenging for the most experienced dog owners, let alone a newbie. Here are some tips for successful puppy training.
Socialization is critical for a well-adjusted, well-behaved dog. Use positive reinforcement and expose him to a variety of people, places and experiences. The idea is for your dog to be confident without being reactive. Doorbells, fireworks, other dogs and people outside the family are all stimuli that you want your dog to experience in a slow and steady manner. For more information, check out our post on socialization.
2. Nip bad habits in the bud
It’s easy to let small dogs get away with behaviours like jumping or mouthing or playing rough. But one day that little ball of cuteness will grow up into a big dog and some of that naughty behaviour won’t seem quite as sweet. Rather than “un-training” your dog later, start as you mean to go on and fix small problems before they become habits.
3. Start training early
Training can start as soon as your new puppy comes home. Learning basic commands and housetraining is a good place to start. Local shops, such as Petsmart, offer classes that can start as soon as your pup’s shots are up to date, exposing your puppy to other dogs while learning in a group setting. Alternatively, there are many certified dog trainers who offer their own sessions or come to your house for private lessons. Your vet can suggest some local trainers, or check out the Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers for a directory of certified experts.
4. Walk it out
Walking is one of the best things you can do for your dog – and for yourself. Initially walking a puppy on a leash can be challenging, and you may wonder who is walking who! Leash manners and socialization are the main concerns for young dogs learning walk etiquette. Arm yourself with enough treats and a positive attitude and your puppy will quickly get the hang of it, learning to follow the rules of the road. The article Why We Walk has more information on the importance of the daily walks.
5. Consistency and patience is key
All the treats and cuddles in the world pale in comparison to the most important elements of puppy training: consistency and patience. Your dog is smart and will quickly learn how to get around rules if they are consistently broken. Establish clear rules and stick to them, advising the other people in your dog’s life to do the same. It’s a fine line between being the master, and being mastered! And remember, with a puppy’s boundless energy and tireless affection, patience isn’t merely a virtue, it’s a necessity!
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