You must be very excited now that you have brought your puppy home. Just like young children are taught how to behave properly, the same applies to dogs. The end result is to instil good habits and building a lasting and loving relationship with your hound. Training your puppy when you first bring him home is not only crucial, it’s also a very interactive and rewarding experience for you and your new family member.
The most appropriate age to begin training your puppy is when he is between 12 and 16 weeks old. This is because, at this age, he can control and hold his bladder and bowel movements. Most puppies become fully trained by the time they are 6 months although some may take up to a year depending on their breed. So don’t panic when he doesn’t attain the milestones as fast as you expect.
You have a choice of training the dog yourself or getting a professional dog trainer. In case you have a busy schedule, get assistance from a qualified modern dog trainer. Be wary, old-fashioned dog trainers can do more harm than good to your dog. If you choose to do it yourself, you might need to visit a professional dog trainer or attend dog training classes. You can also visit websites offering information and tips on the same.
The key to successful training is a lot of patience and consistency. With that in mind, here are some of the training items you may require before starting off:
- Food and water bowls
- Collar and leash
- Puppy Chow
- An exercise pen which your puppy cannot jump out of. It should be placed where you spend most of your time.
- A sleeping crate or bed which can accommodate your puppy up to when he is an adult
How to go about it
Choose an appropriate training method
There are many different dog training methods. They can be categorised into archaic and modern methods. Settling on the best training method before you start is very critical and will give you a very big advantage. The traditional methods can cause a lot of problems including aggression.
The modern training method is very different and efficient and uses creative techniques as opposed to those that were used twenty years ago. In modern training, positive reinforcement is used to modify the dog’s behavior. It focuses on reinforcing the behaviors that we approve of and correcting what we don’t like. This method does not use force or physical contact and enables the dog to learn faster.
Start with the basics: Obedience commands
You ought to understand that easy tasks should be learned before the hard ones. Start by teaching your dog the basic commands of obedience. Some of these are:
Responding when being called is the most important skills your dog should have. In order for your dog to respond to “come”, back away while enthusiastically calling him. Give the command only once and do it while relaxed. To encourage him, you may show him a treat which you later reward him with while increasing the distance.
This teaches your dog to remain calm and still in one place. It’s also a command that can keep your dog away from danger. You can train him by having him in a sit or stay position then hold out your hand towards him and say “stay”. Repeat until your dog gets the idea.
This command is useful in many occasions as it helps in keeping your dog in control. Since most dogs sit on their own, all you have to do is associate the command with the behavior. If your dog is standing, you may signal him to sit using a treat and when he does it, reward him.
Toilet training is absolutely necessary if your hound spends his time indoors. This is the time when you need to exercise a lot of patience if you want a happy ending. How many times your hound needs to eliminate depends on how often they eat or drink. In this case, you need to have a regular meal schedule during the training.
In order for it to be successful, choose a designated area which is easily accessible. In case you live in an apartment with limited access to the outdoors, use a pen for house training. If you live in a house with easy outdoors access, have a designated toilet area, close to the house where your dog can do his business. Look out for signs that your puppy needs a break. These could be barking, whining or circling.
For effective potty training;
- Allow your puppy plenty of potty breaks
- Take your puppy to the same area for the potty break and keep him company.
- Don’t punish your puppy if they accidentally eliminate outside their designated toilet area, as this may breed fear, something I believe you wouldn’t want.
- When he is done with his business, praise him or offer a treat.
Just like humans, your puppy’s emotional and mental health is very important. To ascertain this, you need to schedule a visit to the veterinary. You may also decide to take him to a dog park dog playground in order for him to get an opportunity to learn how to interact with other people and also with his kind in a controlled situation. He also gets to play and jump around without restrictions.
The training process may be a little frustrating and it may not progress as fast as you may want it to be. Make it enjoyable for the both of you because if it isn’t, try other methods or apply different skills. If that doesn’t work, get some professional dog training assistance.
Words by Steven Thomas.