PEOPLE embarking on their first puppy rearing experience must realise patience is vital to successful dog training.
Babies and puppies have a lot in common. You can’t expect an infant child to learn everything overnight. Thus, you have to realise that puppy rearing can also be a time-consuming challenge. However, the time you put into training a puppy will pay off in the end.
There are different methods and not all puppies learn at the same rate. There are many helpful guides available. Breeders and vets are good sources of training information.
Remember puppies will best respond to positive reinforcement. There are some things you just shouldn’t do and the following should be avoided:
1. Inconsistency with Commands: This will set you and your puppy up for failure. Choose command words and use them. For example, if you use ‘off’ to keep your puppy off of the furniture, don’t confuse the dog by sometimes telling him to ‘get down.’ Using the same words consistently will make training a lot easier.
2. Don’t shout or yell at the puppy: Keep your cool and address the dog in a calm manner. You will get its attention without making it afraid of you.
3. Avoid long training sessions: Puppies have short attention spans, so a short lesson is better. Start with five-minute intervals and slowly increase the minutes you spend in a training session. Try to aim for a maximum of 15 minute training sessions at any given time.
4. Avoid rubbing the puppy’s nose in messes: When potty training or housebreaking, forget the old advice of rubbing the puppy’s nose in the puddle of urine. This is a form of negative reinforcement and will only confuse the puppy.
5. Avoid training when in a bad mood: Be aware that puppies can pick up on your mood. Avoid training when in a bad mood. Whether or not you realise it, your foul temper is catching and the puppy can easily become afraid of you.
6. Don’t overuse the crate: Crate training can work well for housebreaking because dogs do not like to soil the area they play and live in. However, don’t use the crate because you feel like forgetting about them for a period of time. The crate is a tool, not a canine prison. Overuse can cause anxieties. The crate is a place your puppy should feel comfortable. Make sure to avoid using the crate for punishment purposes or you will end up confusing him!
7. Don’t forget to praise the puppy for doing things right: Praise and positive reinforcement are very effective. Never underestimate the power of a rub on the belly or a nice treat.
8. Never hit the puppy: Physical abuse will only make the puppy neurotic. Gently correct them and repeat the correction until the puppy learns a specific action is undesirable.
9. Don’t punish a dog that doesn’t come when called: Punishment only makes the dog fear you and continue to avoid you. Instead, reward with praise or a treat when they do come. For safety reasons don’t remove the leash until you know your puppy responds consistently to the ‘come’ command.
10. Don’t correct puppies for something in the past: Even after just 5 minutes don’t correct puppies after they have done something bad like chew a shoe or have a bathroom accident in the house. Puppies have a very short memory. It is best to only reprimand them when you catch them in the act.
The best thing you can do is to spend a lot of time with your puppy. Include them in as many of your activities as you can and you will end up with an amazing dog.