Training Your Puppy

Puppies can be started in training as early as 8 -9 weeks of age. At this age they
are little sponges, just waiting to soak up some knowledge. Being dogs, they are
also pack animals and willing to follow their pack leader - YOU! Training them at a young age will not only make them easier to live with but will help to ingrain you as the pack leader to help you through their "teenage months". Whenever any training is done, only one person should do the training so as not to confuse the puppy....then, after puppy has thoroughly learned a command, the "trainer" can teach the rest of the family the proper commands. All puppies should learn the basic commands of sit, stay, down, come and heel. When the puppy is older, I highly recommend going to an obedience class. There you can build on what you have taught the puppy and the puppy will be able to socialize with other dogs and learn that it must be well-behaved in public and not just at home! A well-behaved dog is a good canine citizen and a welcomed companion and family member. A well-behaved dog is a positive reflection of a responsible dog owner.

When training a puppy, or any dog for that matter, you should remember the 4 P's of Puppy Training - Patience, Practice, Praise and Persistence!

Being patience builds a good trusting bond between the puppy and the trainer, making your efforts more rewarding for both of you....another P - pleasant! Have patience and show the puppy what you want....then lavish the Praise. Since puppies are "walking stomachs" up to about 4 mos., treats used with praise can be a mighty motivator!

Being Persistence while the puppy is learning is essential so that the puppy doesn't get mixed signals from you. Never give a command unless you are prepared to enforce it. If you ask the puppy to sit for a treat and he doesn't, show him, then praise him. Later, when you are watching the TV or cooking and you tell the puppy to sit or down, remember that you must stop what you are doing and make sure he does it. The puppy has no way of knowing that this is or is not a training session.....he hears you give a command, so it is up to you to see that it is carried out - or don't give it in the first place!

Practice often and the best time to do that is before feeding......that way puppy will be very interested in the treats and you will have his full attention! Always reward the puppy immediately after he does what you've told him.....use either the treats and/or praise. ( I prefer to use both, eventually giving treats only occasionally.) Puppies have short attention spans, so it's best to have several very short sessions. That way neither you nor the puppy will get tired and bored and training will be fun for the both of you.

DO NOT PUNISH! Puppies cannot read your mind and they are not spiteful. It actually takes about 7 weeks of practice for the puppy to truly understand the lesson. If he's doing well for about 4-5 weeks, then suddenly seems to draw a blank at one of your commands, don't get angry. Dogs sometimes reach a "learning plateau" about the 5 or 6 week, more or less depending on the dog, where they seem to have forgotten every thing they've learn. It's simply a phenomena of dog training and not some evil plot by your dog. Just go back to the the puppy what you want and praise, praise, praise. This lasts about a week and then they snap out of it.

Links to the basics of teaching a puppy to:






Authored and contributed by Sandra Fikes-Kalahari Ridgebacks.