Is your family bringing a puppy home? It’s so exciting to have a new member of the household, but it can be a lot of work too.
That’s because puppies have a great deal to learn, and it’s up to your family to help them with this learning.
Here are some puppy training tips that are designed to smooth the process for the entire household.
1. Begin with Hand Feeding
Did you know that hand feeding is a great way to teach your dog impeccable manners and strengthen your bond with them?
Hand feeding can be done at every meal or just a few times a week. Most families find it too demanding to feed every meal by hand, so it makes sense to schedule two or three hand-fed meals each week.
Hand feeding requires only that you hold your dog’s food in your hand. As soon as she stops nuzzling, pawing and pushing at your hand, it’s time to give her a reward. If she gets pushy again, withdraw your hand. When she calms down, feed her some more food.
You can keep the food in your dog’s bowl and feed her from your hand as you hold the bowl. Alternatively, place her food in a treat pouch that you can easily access as you hand feed.
2. Try Hand Signals
Once your dog is routinely feeding from your hand without problems, it’s time to introduce some helpful hand signals. A simple hand signal is all that is needed to guide your dog to perform a specific behavior.
For instance, an open hand with the palm up tells the dog to sit. If you point your finger down, this signals the dog to lie down. An open hand with palm forward means to stay.
Keep your hand signals simple, and reinforce the desired behavior with praise and treats. Over time, the rewards can be phased out as your pup learns what each hand signal means.
3. Teach Your Dog a Release Word
Once you have taught your pup to “stay” using either verbal commands or a hand signal, it’s time to introduce the concept of a release word. Some of the most commonly used of these are “OK,” “free” and “break.”
After asking your pup to stay, offer him a reward. Then, say your chosen release word, and encourage him to move. This may be accomplished by asking him to come or initiating play. Give him a reward when he moves after you say your release world so that he will quickly learn the word’s meaning.
4. Introduce Proper Leash Behavior
Training a puppy to walk on a leash can be frustrating and take a lot of time. Nonetheless, it is a critical part of any dog’s training.
Perhaps the biggest problem that most pet parents mention in connection with walking on the leash is that the dog pulls excessively. This is usually because the pup is super-excited, especially if she knows she’s going to the park or somewhere else that she enjoys.
Fortunately, there are a few straightforward techniques that you can use to discourage your pup from pulling on the leash.
One of these is for you to simply stand still when your pup starts pulling. When the dog stops pulling, it’s all right for you to start walking again. However, if she pulls again, then it’s essential that you immediately stop and wait for her to calm down.
Another proven method to discourage pulling is to turn around and walk in the other direction when your pup pulls on the leash. She definitely won’t like this because she’s trying to get to her destination as fast as possible, and you are pulling her in the wrong direction.
The key is that you are teaching your pup that it is faster to get to the desired destination when she doesn’t tug on the leash. In fact, pulling on the leash actually means that it takes longer to get to where she wants to be.
5. Make Training Fun
Training is hard work. There is so much for both you and your pup to learn. However, it is critical that you take plenty of time to play together and look for ways to make training fun.
Think of your dog as being a lot like a small child. The more fun you can make learning, the more enjoyable it is. This motivates your dog to keep trying because he thinks he’s just having fun. In reality, he is learning the fundamental behaviors that will make him a joy to live with.
Consequently, if you ever find yourself getting frustrated or short-tempered while training, then it’s probably time to take a break. Try some more training later in the day or the next day when you’re both in a better frame of mind.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to use food as a means of encouraging your dog to keep learning. You really can’t spoil them at this point, and you want them to pick up some critical behaviors as quickly as possible.
Talk to Doglando for Even More
At Doglando, we speak your dog’s language. Attend our training sessions or drop your dog off for a fun day at camp. Call us today to learn more.
Teena Patel is a Certified Dog Trainer and Behavioral Counselor who works with pet owners and owners of doggy daycares to bring her philosophy of Enrichment to the canine population. After almost two decades of successful dog training under her belt, Teena has done away with the standard doggy daycare “warehousing” of animals in kennels and runs. In place of an industrial model, she focuses on what is right for the dogs as living beings, providing experiences that improve and enhance their behavioral health. Coupled with a program of careful training, the Doglando experience results in companion dogs who are better-behaved, better integrated into their families, and above all, much happier. True to her passion, Teena Patel gives dogs the freedom “to be dogs”.