Many of us have seen the meme: Happiness is a warm puppy. While that is true, it is also true that happiness is a well-trained puppy. It is happiness for you and happiness for the pup.
Just like with a new human child, puppies need to learn, want to learn and are happy when they learn. Help them be happy.
Here are a few early training tips for helping create a happy environment for your dog … and you.
Start Training Early
The American Kennel Club advises you to show your pup what you expect from them from the very beginning. They need to know what is expected from them. Like human children, pups need to feel secure in their environment and in their quest to meet the goals laid out for them. AKC advises a simple training program beginning at about 8 weeks old, and they suggest that you keep your training sessions short and to the point, maybe 5 to 10 minutes long, always ending with positive reinforcement and praise. Keep it fun and keep the pup involved, as a bored or frustrated puppy is not apt to learn.
And don’t be afraid to cuddle with your pup. They need that love and contact for security and nurturing, it helps them realize that you are their parent and it is good for your well-being as well. Also, get the pup used to hearing their name. Use it often and they will soon recognize who they are and who you are calling when you mention their name.
Positive Reinforcement and Gentle Discipline
There is room and time for positive reinforcement, however, setting guidelines and using loving, gentle and consistent discipline and creating a structure is a sound strategy. According to littlepuppytraining.com, the proper methods and tactics of puppy training make all the difference. Get puppy raising wrong, and you and the dog will regret it. For example, the current trend of 100% positive reinforcement dog training leaves the owner reluctant to discipline and puts the pup in the position of becoming pack alpha. Canine experts agree that your puppy doesn’t really want to be alpha in your family. So treat your dogs lovingly, but firmly.
Establish a Routine
Also from the beginning, experts advise to establish a routine with your pup. Both you and the dog need to adjust to pack life. Consistent schedules for the pup is part of their training and helps them feel happy and safe. The owner has agendas and timetables to meet and so does the pup. Needs have to be addressed for your lifestyle, and also for the pup’s, from feeding time, to potty time to play and sleep time. Early on, it is advisable to set a schedule that works, and keep to it.
You don’t want your dog peeing in the house, and the dog will not enjoy being scolded for doing so, so it is wise to touch on this training early. As mentioned above, regular scheduling is a priority here, and a good strategy is to feed the pup at the same times each day and take your pup outside to relieve himself after every water drink, every meal or every nap.
Crate training is controversial, but is a recent trend in pup management to help in housebreaking and to deal with puppy hyper-activity. Many dogs actually feel secure and comfortable in a crate and enjoy their time there. However, it is paramount that you identify with your pup and know that crating is only for a few hours at a time. It isn’t good for your pup to be confined all day while you are working, or all night while you are sleeping. If you crate train, use it in moderation as a technique, not as a long-term solution.
Find a comfortable leash and get your pup used to it … not too tight. Remember not to yank or pull hard. Make leash wearing fun for the pup and let him get used to the collar and leash during play time, at first.
It doesn’t matter if the dog is on your right or left. There are no rules … whatever is comfortable for you, but be consistent, ideally with them walking at your side. Treat-bribery is often used to help them follow directions.
If you want them to walk out in front of you, and smell all the wonderful smells a dog enjoys, go for it, but be consistent. If you want them to stay at your side, be consistent there as well and reward them in the beginning for coming back to you.
Perhaps the most crucial and important first command to teach your pup is “Come.” You need to know that your pup will stop what they are doing and come to you when you need them to. If your pup is secure in knowing coming to you will be a good thing and a loving arrangement, they will come happily. One technique is to get down on their level, call them by name, and praise and pet them when they return to you.
Then, try distractions including other people, toys or noises and call them again. Soon, they will be happy and secure returning to you, and you can be secure in knowing that your pup can be safe in your arms regardless of the situation.
Socializing your puppy
A happy puppy and a happy owner are well-adjusted together in crowds as well as during alone time. A puppy that is comfortable around people and other dogs will become an adult dog that is well-socialized.
Introduce your puppy to other dogs, other people, children (a tough one at times because children tend to be unpredictable and peripatetic, which can be unnerving for a puppy), and places other than their home comfort zone.
Socialization also includes avoidance of jumping on people, excessive barking and aggression. It will take time, but getting them used to other situations early, in a happy and controlled experience will pay off for you and the pup.
Spend time training and raising your pup. A puppy is like a child and it takes love, devotion, gentle discipline, attention, effort and a plan to raise them as happy, well-adjusted family member.