After discussing it with your veterinarian to ensure your dog has all the necessary vaccines, you may wish to take your dog to group training classes or the dog park. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language to be sure he’s having a good time — and is not fearful or a dog park bully. If you’re unsure of what signs to watch for, check out this video on safety at the dog park.
Sit is one of the most basic commands and it helps you to maintain control over your dog under all situations. This should be the first command that you teach. Start by telling your dog “sit.” Gently push downwards on the haunches until he is in the sitting position. When he is there, praise him and possible give him a doggie treat as a reward. It’s always a good idea to use hand gestures when teaching commands. A finger pointing downward will help him to learn the word and the gesture together. When fully trained he will respond to either. Repeat this process until your pet has learned to sit on command. Space the treats further and further apart until they are no longer needed.
Teaching your dog the difference between what is his and what is yours takes a long time to accomplish, but hang in there, he’ll eventually come to know what he can have and what he can’t. It’s important to supply your pet with plenty of toys and chew bones that are his. Giving him his own bed is also a good idea. If he has these things, he’ll be easier to train. Play with him and reinforce the fact that the toys are his by asking him, “is this yours?” Then tell him, this is yours or this is Fido’s (using his name). Having his own toys and chew bones will lessen the odds of him becoming bored and going after your possessions to chew and slobber on.
To train your dog to come when called, start on leash in a quiet area. Back away from your dog while enthusiastically telling her to “come!” Only give the command once, but be enthusiastic, and keep your body language relaxed and open. You can show your dog a treat to encourage her to head your way. Once she starts towards you, say “yes!” (or click) and reward her with a treat.
It’s recommended that you purchase an adjustable collar that remains solidly in place when fastened. Make sure that the collar fits your pet snugly so they can’t get out of it, but it must be loose enough for comfort. You should be able to fit two fingers between the material and your pet. Be certain to check the fit regularly if your pet is still growing.
Punishment is operationally defined as an event that lowers the probability of the behavior that it follows. It is not "punishment" in the common sense of the word,[40] and does not mean physical or psychological harm and most certainly does not mean abuse. Punishment simply involves the presentation of an undesired consequence (positive punishment) when the wrong behavior is performed, such as a snap of the leash, or the removal of a desired consequence (negative punishment) when the wrong behavior is performed, such as the trainer eating the cheese that would have been the reward.[41] A behavior that has previously been developed may cease if reinforcement stops; this is called extinction. A dog that paws its owner for attention will eventually stop if it no longer receives attention.[42]
Training classes for young puppies are also an excellent way to socialize your new puppy to a variety of people, dogs, and other stimuli in a controlled environment. In addition, you will learn how to prevent problems before they can begin, or deal with them as they emerge, rather than having to find a way to correct problems that have already developed. Your puppy might also make some new friends of the same age. You could then visit these friends (or vice versa) with your puppy for social play and exercise sessions. Since the primary socialization period for dogs ends by 3 months of age, puppy socialization classes are most valuable for puppies 8 weeks of age and older. If all puppies in the class have had initial vaccinations, are healthy and parasite free, the health risks are low and the potential benefits are enormous. Discuss the location of classes in your area and when to start them with your veterinarian.

Laying a solid training foundation will make life with your dog easier and more fun. If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for an in-person obedience class; there’s no better way to train your dog than to practice with an expert IRL. You can also follow any of the helpful links above, and check out our blog archives for additional tips and tricks.
When your puppy comes to you, don’t reach out and grab him. This can be confusing or frightening for some dogs. If your puppy is timid, kneel and face them sideways and offer him treats as you reach for the collar. Never call your dog to punish! This will only teach him that you are unpredictable, and it is a good idea to avoid you. Always reward your dog heavily for responding to his or her name, even if they have been up to mischief!
Many 4-H Dog obedience leaders have struggled with how much information to put into each week’s training session for youth. I have found that a leader can teach the basics in an eoght-week course. In eight weeks, youth are able to keep up without feeling too much pressure and the dogs can perfect a move before moving on to the next, but not get bored. Moving at a pace that is right for the dog and the handler is very important so that patience is always present for both, and so no one becomes discouraged.
In considering the natural behaviours of specific breeds of dogs, it is possible to train them to perform specialised, highly useful, tasks. For example, Labrador retrievers are the favoured breed for the detection of explosives. This is because of a combination of factors including their food drive which enables them to keep focused on a task despite noise and other distractions. Most working breeds of dogs are able to be trained to find people with their sense of smell (as opposed to their sense of sight). Cocker Spaniels are able to be trained as part of a termite detection team. Their relatively small size enables them to fit into small spaces, and their light weight allows them to walk on areas of ceiling which would be dangerous to anything heavier. In fact, although unusual, termite detection dogs are much more reliable at detecting termites than humans who rely on a basic system of tapping and listening. Because of their ability to learn signals by sight and for their energetic and athletic natures, German Shepherds are able to be trained for work alongside search and rescue teams and human apprehension teams.[79]
Laying a solid training foundation will make life with your dog easier and more fun. If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for an in-person obedience class; there’s no better way to train your dog than to practice with an expert IRL. You can also follow any of the helpful links above, and check out our blog archives for additional tips and tricks.
Once your puppy can turn around to face you, begin adding movement and making the game more fun! Toss a treat on the ground and take a few quick steps away while calling your puppy’s name. They should run after you because chase is fun! When they catch you, give them a lot of praise, treats or play with a tug toy. Coming to you should be fun! Continue building on these games with longer distances and in other locations. When training outside (always in a safe, enclosed area), it may be helpful to keep your puppy on a long leash at first.
Whenever you’re training your dog, it’s important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone’s on the same page. If you are telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out up there, how on earth is he ever going to learn what you want? Consistency will be the key to your success.
One excellent first step you can take is to join the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. The APDT is the largest professional association of dog trainers in the world. The APDT offers many benefits, including the largest and most informative seminars on dog training/behavior available, an outstanding bimonthly newsletter, Internet e-mail lists where trainers share training tips and information, and numerous opportunities to network with other training professionals.
How animals learn is one of the most studied phenomena in the history of cognitive science, and yet how to apply these learnings is not always clear cut. Much like humans, dogs carry embedded instincts and rich memories—from their evolution and the inherent drive for survival, to getting scolded for something they did but didn’t understand a mere week ago.
Remember that training is an ongoing process. You will never be completely finished. It is important to keep working on obedience training throughout the life of your dog. People who learn a language at a young age but stop speaking that language may forget much of it as they grow older. The same goes for your dog: use it or lose it. Running through even the most basic tricks and commands will help them stay fresh in your dog's mind. Plus, it's a great way to spend time with your dog.
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