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Written by Douglas Erickson
Often, when making that important decision to bring a new puppy into the household, it is not uncommon to have questions on how to train the puppy. However, puppies grow into dogs quickly so teaching them basic training commands must start early; above all potty training. The essential training commands to teach your puppy are:
sit, stay, come, down (lie down), wait, heel, off, and leave it, to name a few. These commands are necessary so that you and your family, along with your new companion can live together cohesively.
A puppy is impressionable. So before training begins, it is a good idea to incorporate several key tips with the training processes.
- Training materials. Select a training manual that you believe will work for you and your dog. There are many training resources available in which provide different variations with teaching processes. Select a primary source for consistency.
- Patience, patience, and more patience. Remember that training is a process and depending on the degree of commands to be learned, it may take time. Think back to when you were a child; did you learn to ride a bike without training wheels?
- Realistic expectations. Start by teaching your puppy one command at a time. Attempting to learn too much at one time can be confusing and frustrating for both you and your puppy.
- Build trust and confidence. As your puppy masters one command at a time, you and your puppy will form a bond built on trust and confidence. With this trust and confidence your puppy will be anxious to please you by learning more commands.
- Verbal tone and body language. Remember, your puppy is impressionable. Using louds tones and abrupt body movements can frighten your puppy and make him or her afraid of you. Be calm and relaxed. Your puppy will become anxious to learn more.
- Positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement training uses praise and/or treats to reward your companion when he or she is doing something correctly. (The Humane Society, 2009). Be careful not to reward your dog for doing something incorrectly. For example, if your dog goes outside to bark at a noise opposed to going outside to go to the bathroom as trained do not give him praise. You dog should only be praised following through with a learned behavior.
- Consistency. Training your dog needs to be consistent. Family members, dog sitters or walkers must apply the same commands as you. Create a list of commands for them to become accustomed with.
- Integrate. When playing with your puppy, teach as you go. For example, when you are playing tug-a-war with his or her favorite toy, stop and teach him or her to drop the toy. But do not forget to apply positive reinforcement. If you do not have a small treat, a nice pat on the head with positive, fun verbal praise is rewarding.
- Primary trainer. When teaching your puppy a command you should be the initial trainer. Variations in training techniques can confuse your puppy. This can become frustrating to you as your puppy may not master the command.
- Hire a dog trainer. If you feel that training is not your forte you may want to consider hiring a dog trainer.
The Humane Society of the United States. 2009. Dogs: Positive reinforcement training. Retrieved online November 3, 2011 from:
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