If you´re new to owning a dog, you may be feeling overwhelmed at all there is to do just to make sure your new pet is happy and healthy – making sure he´s well-behaved is another ballgame!
This article will give you the tips you need to start training your dog successfully, right from the beginning.
The first few days after you bring your new puppy home are the most important. You´re going to want to stock up on your patience and understand that consistency and persistence are important keys to training your new dog. Right from the start, it´s a good idea to make sure your puppy doesn´t get away with any behavior you deem unacceptable. Know what your expectations are going to be ahead of time so you can discourage bad behavior while rewarding the good.
A word of caution about kids and dogs – most of the time puppies and children do wonderfully together. Still, children tend to mimic and repeat what they hear their parents say. Avoid letting your child continually give commands to your pet. When your dog hears commands given repeatedly with little authority, he will tend to ignore the command altogether. After all, your dog is a smart cookie and it doesn´t take long for him to recognize when there won´t be any repercussions for doing so.
Maybe you´ve heard this one already…Consistency is key. If you don´t want your dog on the sofa or taking up most of your bed, don´t let him get up there, to begin with. As your dog matures and learns what is expected of him, you can occasionally make an exception. Just make sure he understands, YOU decide when that occasion will be and that he´s only allowed to do it when you say so.
It´s always a good idea to spend some extra time with your puppy outside. After all, dog´s love to dig and if you want to keep your garden from harm, you will need to teach him not to dig in it. Instead of just letting your puppy outside and returning to what you were doing in the house, spend a bit of time together playing fetch or rough-housing. After a bit let your puppy wander off, sniff and check things out. Just be ready to nip any unacceptable behavior – like digging in your flower beds – in the bud. By supervising your puppy early on, you´ll help him learn what he can – and cannot – do when he´s outside on his own.
Each time you´re finished with your training session, take a few minutes to play fetch or another fun game with your dog. It won´t take long for your dog to understand what´s coming at the end of each training session and he will begin looking forward to your daily training. And the more excited he is, the more focused he will be!
After your puppy has mastered the commands you´ve been practicing, move your training location. If you´ve been training him in the yard, try training him in the house or on your driveway. You might interrupt a walk to practice a few training maneuvers or carry out a training session at your local park. Doing this will help your puppy learn to focus because each new location presents him with a new set of distractions. Though he might find it challenging at first, you will be amazed at how quickly he learns to ignore the distractions and focus on listening more carefully to your commands.
A Word About Behavior Problems
If your puppy starts acting up, becoming destructive or doing things you do not want him to do, he may not be getting enough exercise. Try walking your dog several times a day (at least 3!) If your dog is what´s deemed a “working dog” like a Labrador Retriever, then you should take him for a run at least once a day. A dog that is given the chance to use up his extra energy is often a much better-behaved pet.
Since some behavior problems can be traced back to a poor diet, it´s important to feed your dog high-quality food. High-quality dog food is made with nutrient-rich ingredients and has an expiration date. Make sure your dog gets the protein he needs and definitely avoid feeding him from the table. Table scraps won´t give your dog the proper vitamins and minerals (and can also make him fat!) Truth is, a well-fed dog is much happier and healthier than a dog that isn´t getting the nutrients his body needs.
Bonus Tip: Do you have trouble with your puppy making a mad dash for an open door? If so, you need to take steps to prevent it. Try using a baby gate to block the open door in the beginning. Start out by training him to sit and stay by the closed front door. Once he can do this, teach him to sit and stay with the door slightly ajar. Move on to training him to sit and stay at the open door with a leash – gradually moving on to teaching him to sit and stay at the open door without his leash.
There´s no question, as a new dog owner you´re going to be faced with many different challenges. Follow the tips outlined above and you will be much closer to having a well-trained dog. They´ll also help you have a better understanding of what it takes to be a consequent yet loving dog owner.