Puppies are cute, enthusiastic little sponges just waiting to soak up whatever social cues they can from anyone around them. Whether you are doing it consciously or not, you are training your puppy through all your actions and postures. The earlier you get started, and the more focus you put on developing positive habits, the better off you and your puppy will be.
The Very Beginning
The most important things to remember when you start training your new puppy are simplicity and consistency. Keep the focus on learning one command at a time and start with the basics, such as “come” and “stay.” Once you have decided on a command to work on, be consistent, clear, and, most of all, patient. Remember, puppies are learning an entirely new language, and it will take some time to get them to figure out what those commands mean.
Starting out, a good idea is to work on the commands in an environment that doesn’t have lots of distractions. The attention span of your pup is short so having a calm area in which to begin developing skills will help keep them focused.
Rewarding every time they correctly follow a command will reinforce good behavior as they begin to connect obeying the command with a reward. Rewards come in all forms – praise, high-value food, a toy, affection etc. We love praise because you always have that in your pocket 😉
Now that your new friend has started getting better with the command, it is time to start introducing some distractions. This is a great way to test their focus, and it will start to prepare them for good listening behavior in the real world.
If you’re working on the “come” command, for example, putting an obstacle between you and them before you call is a perfect next step. As they get better, the obstacle should become more pronounced, to the point of even putting you out of sight. As their ability grows even further, you can have that distraction be more animated and tricky such as another person trying to stop them from getting to you (although maybe not trying too hard!).
Consistency is Key
No matter what command you are teaching or how advanced your puppy, keeping a consistent training schedule and reward system is the best way to get the most out of the hard work. The more comfortable your puppy is with the routine, the more effective the training will be. While you don’t necessarily have to set an alarm clock for the exact same time every day, setting aside a certain amount of time for training every day will give your puppy a sense of comfort. This familiarity with the idea of training, makes it more effective.
Along with having a fairly regular training schedule, consistency with rewards is also crucial for their continued improvement. They should be rewarded immediately upon command fulfillment every time.
Training With the Pros
Basic puppy training can feel like a daunting task, especially if you are new to the idea. The good news is that the professionals at Breakthrough K9 Training are just a click away! Lenny and Stephanie have been training puppies in the Richmond VA area for over 10 years and have had hundreds of pups become well-trained and happy dogs through their tutelage. If you have any worries about training your new furry friend, give us a call at (804) 301-2836 today and see what the incredible benefits of professional training can look like for you!