Like human adolescents, puppies learn best when they are having fun and fully engaged in an activity. Puppy school games are designed to help you bond with your pet while at the same time ensuring that he is having such a good time he doesn’t even realize he’s learning. Remember to keep the games brief, since your puppy’s attention span is short. Come prepared with lots of treats and ready to have a good time.
Teach your puppy to come when called by name with the help of a friend, two squeaky toys and a few treats. You and your friend should sit on the floor across from each other, a few feet apart. Have your friend hold the puppy, then let go when you call the puppy by name in a happy voice. For example, "Rover, Come!" Use the squeaky toy as added incentive to get your pet's attention, and reward him with a treat when he comes to you. Now you hold the puppy while your friend calls him by name.
Dogs have terrific noses and can seek out food at a very early age. Show your puppy a treat, then drop it at his feet and tell him, “Rover, find the treat!" Reward him with positive praise when he eats the treat. As he gets the hang of the game, hide the treats farther and farther away from him. Eventually, you can replace the treat with people or items, and your puppy will still want to play hide and seek. Think how useful this training will be the next time you can only find one shoe.
Puppies love to run around, but they also need to know when to be still. Play with your puppy, then say, "Rover, freeze!" and sit very still. The second your puppy calms down and stands still or sits, reward him with a treat. Like small children, in the beginning he’ll stop about as long as it takes you to blink, but with time, you can extend how long he has to freeze before he is rewarded. If your puppy is still learning to sit or stay, you may need to help him equate "freeze" with sit or stay with hand motions or the use of a leash.
Before you can train a puppy, you need to get his attention. Some trainers prefer you use vocal commands, while others prefer hand signals or a squeaky toy. Sit with your puppy on a leash in front of you. Call your puppy or squeak a toy near your face. When your puppy looks at you, reward him with a treat or positive reinforcement, such as petting or words of encouragement. When he returns to whatever else has his attention, repeat the action, rewarding him for turning his attention to you.
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