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Puppy Training Basics
A new puppy will soak up training like a sponge, and the earlier that training begins the better. Reinforcing positive behaviors through consistent training is the best way to raise a happy puppy.
Start with Housebreaking
Before getting the puppy to perform commands, she needs to learn not to relieve herself in the house. Establishing a routine for elimination is key – designate a safe and familiar place for the puppy to go immediately in the morning and give light praise when she is finished. Crate training is also an effective way to housebreak a puppy, since puppies do not like to soil their sleeping quarters. Upon release from the crate, immediately lure your puppy outside with small bits of easily digestible treats. This strict routine of containment and release will help develop strong bowel and bladder control quickly.
Move on to Lure Training
A puppy can quickly learn to follow basic commands, such as “sit” and “down,” through training with soft, bite sized treats and repetitive hand movements. Hold a treat over your puppy’s nose and move it backwards; this should get her to sit. Positively reward the behavior with praise and allow her to eat the treat. Hold a small dog treat close to the floor while she is standing. As she bends her neck to eat it, move the treat between her front paws, further underneath her. She should naturally bend her hind legs into a “down” position to reach it.
Be sure to use the word “sit” or “down” so she associates the verbal command with the physical action. But avoid repeating the command multiple times. It is important to dispense a treat immediately upon successful demonstration of a desired behavior.
Introduce the Leash
Since puppies need plenty of exercise, leash training is a great way to incorporate training, bonding, and exercise into one activity. Begin by introducing the leash in a comfortable environment. A puppy may resist the leash at first, simply because the feeling is foreign. Once comfortable, have her wear the collar and leash around the house for short periods. This will help with anxiety when walking is introduced. Start by getting the puppy to sit on your left side and walk a few paces while giving small, healthy dog treats continuously. Once the puppy is able to walk a few yards while giving dog treats, begin to reduce the amount of treats in between steps. Continue this process and slowly add more distance with fewer dog treats. It is best to start leash training in an area with no distractions (such as the backyard) before venturing out into the neighborhood or a park.
Remember that consistent practice provides both mental stimulation and bonding for your puppy. With a little love and a lot of patience, training can be fun for everyone. So get your dog treats ready, block aside some time, and enjoy the process!