Puppy training: The important task you might have forgot about when you looked into that sweet, fuzzy face. Training isn't only important to your sanity, it's important to your pooch's well-being and quality of life. Training helps you set boundaries and also helps your pup gain the respect of other people. It's not always simple, however, and you might find you're training yourself as you're training your little Fido.
Patience goes a long way when trying to train a puppy, whether it's housebreaking, crate training or the everyday commands he'll use throughout his life. Along with patience comes consistency; these two go hand-in-hand. When training, be consistent with your command words, whether you say "Go potty!", "outside" or whatever little phrase you say for the command you're training. The words should be the same every time. Along with the phrase words, be consistent with the routine you're setting. Feed him every day at the same times and practice training every day at the same times. Work on one skill at a time instead of confusing him with several, and keep training sessions limited to 10 to 15 minutes a couple of times per day.
Don't give up when it seems like he's not getting it. Puppies are young, with little on their agendas besides exploring the world and playing. There will be days when it seems like he gets it, only to have him seemingly forget every lesson the day after. Consistency will pay off, giving up won't. It's important to keep your eye on the long-term goal and don't expect overnight results.
Praise your pup lavishly for all good things during training. Praise him when he comes to you; praise him when he performs the correct command; praise him when he tells you he needs to go outside. Lay on the praise thickly, too, to really let him know he was good. Talk in a goofy, high-pitched, but all-around happy voice. Do a little dance if it comes naturally. Offering a special treat during training can help too. Small chunks of boiled chicken or tiny training treats are ideal for training.
Along with praise, however, discipline -- not punishment -- may be called for. If your pooch is doing something bad, he needs to know. Typically a puppy will be startled away from bad behavior by a loud, stern "No!" or a loud clap. Redirect his attention to the right thing or, if he's doing something like starting to pee on your carpet, follow the loud noise by quickly scooping him up and taking him outside. Never take a puppy to a soiled area or something that he chewed up that didn't just happen, either. Puppies won't realize why you're angry with them after the fact, only at the immediate time of the offense.
- Cesar's Way: Housebreaking Your Puppy: Do's and Don'ts
- Delaware Humane Association: The DOs and DON'Ts of Crate Training Your Dog and Puppy
- University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine: Humane Education and Responsible Ownership: Educational Information: Tips on House Training Puppies: The DOs AND DONTs
- Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images