Posted on March 15 2018
People that have recently adopted a doggy tend to think that dog training is some sort of rocket science, which is not necessarily true. A professional dog trainer has extensive knowledge and experience regarding canine psychology and behaviors. Even though it’s not the easiest thing to master, a person with no qualifications can still do a great job training a new four-legged family member. Results will come if the dog owner is constantly involved in all the steps of canine education. Constant daily attention is needed in order to teach him to avoid bad habits and form good ones.
A puppy must start being educated when he’s two months old. The first thing that the dog must learn is his name. His name should be a short word that elicits a quick and cheerful response.
Dogs learn best through association and positive reinforcement, so the name must be associated with something that he enjoys, like tasty food, toys or the patron’s affection. When rewarding a dog with food, it’s important that the owner picks something that is both tasty and safe to eat. Another important factor is to choose something small to treat him with so that he doesn’t shift his attention to chewing the bits that have fallen on the ground. He must swallow his treat and his focus should shift on you and the next reward.
There’s also a faster training method called “marker training”, which is based on Pavlov’s experiment. A clicker will be used to mark the moment, reaction and desired behavior. First, you hold the clicker in one hand, the food in the other and you say his name. When you see that he’s reacted, you use the clicker and give him the treat. Fast enough, your puppy will understand that the quick reaction to his name will trigger a positive reaction. Having correctly associated his name with being given a treat, he will quickly learn to respond to his given name. Repeat this step many times, not only when teaching him to respond to his given name, but also when you want to teach him commands. Don’t overdo it, though, because your puppy might develop the habit of waiting for a reward every time he does what you say.
It’s important to wait for him to execute the command three times to five times before rewarding him. Thus, not knowing when the treat will come will motivate him to act accordingly, hoping to be rewarded for his good behavior.
Next, you should introduce your dog to the leash. Taking into account that medium or large breed puppies grow quite fast, the best choice would be to get him a leash and an adjustable collar. If you see that your dog gets anxious after being leashed, it’s very important that you ignore him because, as mentioned above, dogs learn by associating an action to a reaction. If your four-legged friend sees that getting anxious will determine you to take off his leash and collar, he will also get anxious the next time you put on his leash. On the other hand, if you’re oblivious to his anxiety, he will start to feel oblivious regarding the collar and leash. In a few days, he will regard the collar and the leash as a normal part of his life. Every pup reacts differently, so don’t worry if it will take a bit more time for him to become accustomed to the new accessories.
If you want to make him feel less anxious in the beginning, you can help him get used to being leashed by tying a 10-inch shoelace to his collar. Once he is completely alright with the shoelace attached to his collar, you can then proceed to attach an actual leash. He might be scared during the first days, but have no worry, this is completely normal. Ideally, you should take your pup for his first walk after he’s totally comfortable with his leash.
Patience and repetition will bring you the satisfaction of seeing your puppy behave and listen to your commands. There are no methods that will yield immediate and lasting results. Pay attention to his progress, constantly use positive reinforcement and watch your puppy become your loyal and loving friend.
Troy works for PremierPups, a dog adoption service that specializes in small-breed puppies. He is passionate about dog psychology and exotic dog breeds.