When you get a new puppy it's very easy to get caught up in how cute and playful it is and perhaps forget that during this time is when your puppy will develop much of its learned behaviours.
It's easy to give new puppies a lot of attention, just make sure it gets training attention too. Image credit: Paula Navarro/sxc.hu
So it's during the first few months of your puppy's lifetime that training is absolutely vital.
The most effective training methods are those which make use of positive reinforcement rather than dominance. In fact, trainers and vets agree that training by use of punishment can actually lead to additional behavioral issues in dogs - something that nobody wants!
The great thing is, training your puppy is fairly easy when you are using positive reinforcement. Simply arm yourself with a bag of small treats and be prepared to lavish praise and affection on your puppy. Sounds easy right?
Here are five simple steps to get you well on your way to having a well behaved pup that will do you proud in any setting.
Training your dog properly from the start will ensure it always behaves well no matter the situation. Image credit:UGJammin/sxc.hu
Step One Decide on short one word commands that you can teach your dog to recognise and obey.
You will need to use these words consistently so it's important to choose them right at the start and make sure that everyone in the household knows the commands and uses them. If different people are using different commands, your dog can get confused. Some good examples of simple commands to use are sit, stay, down, bed and heel.
Step Two Developing your training schedule. The training sessions need to be kept fairly short and you need to make them as fun as you can for both you and your dog. Doing your training at the same time each day is a great way to build your routine and you will find that it becomes a bonding experience for you and your dog.
Step Three Help your dog associate obeying your commands with good things. Each time the puppy responds to your command in an appropriate manner you will want to reward him with a treat and lots of praise. Do not be afraid to lavish lots of affection on your dog - you want him to know that he did the right thing.
Treats are a great way to tell your dog that it has done the right thing. Positive rewards are a great motivator. Image credit: C Hannah/sc.hu
Step Four Gradually remove the treats. Once your dog is consistently responding to your commands the next step is to gradually remove the treats. You should still offer verbal praise and plenty of pats and scratches as a reward, but treats should be reduced until they are no longer required. Your dog will learn to obey your command even without the promise of a yummy snack.
Step Five This is one which you will do for the rest of your dog's life. You must continue with the positive reinforcement every time your pet responds desirably. Once the dog learns the command and the associated behaviour it will be enough to simply offer verbal praise and it will continue to behave in the manner you want as long as it's reinforced to do so.
Following these steps is an easy way to train your dog to do (or not do) pretty much anything.