How To Train Your Puppy To Be On Its Best Behavior
29 March, 2017
Guest blog by Marina Alteza of IHeartPup
For the most part, dogs kind of just do whatever they want—push their way through doors if they think they are going out, jump up on people, and even rush in or out of a vehicle. But regardless of size and how frisky they are, there are situations where rushing through an open door can put themselves in harm’s way. Below are a few pointers on how to train your puppy to stay calm and manageable in all situations:
Learn to Identify What the Dog Wants
When you learn what it is that the dog wants, that is the reward. There are many scenarios for this—the dog may want to go outside, it may want a toy, food, socialization with other dogs, or it might just want the attention of its owner.
Teaching is the most effective when it is consistent. If one bad behavior is allowed one day and it is reprimanded the next, the dog will be confused and it is a source of stress. Once you have decided to work on a certain behavior, you must follow through with the training protocol, so that you can feel confident that the effort that is put forth to train will pay off.
This is important for the people and the dog. It is vital to stay calm and composed. When a person shows irritation and frustration, it may contribute to the excitability of the puppy, making it more difficult for them to calm down. It’s impossible to ask the puppy to slow down just because you are in a rush for results. You should be absolutely prepared to spend (at the very least) about 15 minutes per day training the puppy. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be the same time of day.
Aim to Teach Cues with Redirection
This is an opportunity to teach calm and controlled behavior. Also, aim to teach cues as a single word. You can teach the pup to sit and stay before eating their food, jumping in or out of the car, going in or out of the crate, and more. You will even be able to teach them to settle with all 4 paws on the ground before you give them attention. Rather than punishing for the undesired behavior, aim to redirect to the appropriate one.
This can be done when the “Come” command is established, or at least being learned. Arm yourself with a pocket full of treats. Attach their leash and give the cue “Let’s go” and encourage a forward motion by patting your leg. When they come, give a treat. Practice this a few steps at a time while praising when done right. When they get too far ahead or behind, let the tension pull on the leash and they will turn around. When the slack is back, give verbal praise and a treat when they return to you. When they pull, stand your ground and the unwanted behavior will eventually self-correct.
It is ideal to start socializing a puppy as soon as possible, when they are separated from mom and have all of their shots so anywhere from 7 to 16 weeks of age. This time gives an opportunity for many introductions that will leave positive memories. Puppies are eager, uninhibited, and exploratory during this time so it is vital to take advantage of this.
Training classes are for more than just owners that are not capable of training—they provide techniques for owners to use in training, and they can also help out with any problems that are happening. The puppy will benefit from learning in a group setting with real distractions. It also provides a way to be held accountable for practicing consistently at home to keep up with the class.
Rewards Should Happen Immediately
Know that whatever the behavior is right before the reward is given is the behavior that will be repeated. An example of this is dogs pushing their way through to get out of a door—if they are successful they will learn that pushing is what gets them the reward. What to do here is to wait for an alternative behavior—the behavior that should be repeated. Once they do the behavior that is intended, they should receive the reward.
Marina Alteza is a yogi, writer, and mother to a Cockapoo named Kara. During the day, she can often be found in front of her laptop crafting stories for her readers at IHeartPup. But by night she is devising a plan for her next adventure, which typically involves travel, a vintage camera, a pencil and a notebook.