By Gary Walker
Puppy training is an important responsibility that many dog owners unfortunately shy away from. This is a pity because, not only is training easy and fun, it also provides lots of other benefits including bonding, exercise, establishing dominance, and of course, a balanced, disciplined dog.
Your first dog training challenge is to house train your puppy. Many new dog owners give up right here, but the key is patience and persistence. Potty training a puppy is a lot easier (and quicker) than potty training a child, and you wouldn’t give up on your kids if they didn’t get it first time, would you?
Just pick a method that works for you, and stick to it. You will see results.
Which is the best method? Depending on your situation and time availability, you could try crate training, paper training or the supervision method. The method I usually recommend is crate training, but choose what works best for you.
Most dogs will be fully housebroken within two weeks of consistent training. If you started at about 10 weeks your puppy will now be 12 weeks old and ready to start obedience training.
For this to be effective you’ll need to commit to the time and effort required. You’ll also have to temper your expectations, because even with the smartest dogs, training takes time.
Promise yourself that you will remain calm and positive, and that there will be no yelling or punishment. Commit to making training a fun time that you spend with your dog. This will accelerate your success and make training a pleasure, rather than a chore.
In terms of the actual training, you can start by teaching your puppy his name. This is easy enough, just use his name whenever you can. Whenever you talk to the pup, praise him, feed him or give him a treat, say his name in a pleasant, encouraging voice and he’ll soon pick it up.
With that out of the way, you can move on to the first obedience command, “sit.” To do this, stand (or kneel) facing the dog, with a treat in your hand. Raise the treat to about the dog’s line of sight, and then slowly towards him. He’ll be forced to sit in order to keep watching the treat. The minute his butt hits the floor, say “sit”, then immediately give him the treat and lots of praise.
Simple though it may be, the “sit” command lays the groundwork for all of your dog training efforts. From here it’s a short step to teaching your dog all manner of obedience commands, including stay, lie down, and come to me, to name just a few. By now you may well have caught the “training bug”, and you may want to teach your dog to do tricks, to count, to bark on command, and lots of other cool stuff.