When To Start Puppy Training
Puppy training will begin as soon as you bring your puppy home. Puppies as young as 7 or 8 weeks can be taught simple basics such as sit and stay, but they do have a very short concentration span. It is best not to be too intense too soon and keep training sessions short, but daily.
Positive reward based training should be introduced to help the pup understand your command. Food treat rewards can be used to lure the pup into position. To teach the ‘sit’ command, pass a tasty treat in your hand over the pup’s nose towards his back and say sit. This action will force him to sit down when you should repeat the command and give him the treat with lots of praise. The same principle can be used for ‘down’, by passing the treat close to his nose and to the floor giving the ‘down’ command. Repeat the command and give the pup the treat when he has got down on the floor. Always give lots of praise when the pup gets it right.
When to use treats?
Using food treats in this way can be used for other basic commands such as to get your pup to come to you when called. For ‘come’ hold the treat out at a distance and give the command ‘here’ or ‘come’. It often works better if you are crouched down or kneeling to be at a lower level. To help with lead training, keep a treat at your side to encourage your pup to walk alongside you.
The command can be ‘heel’. Command names can basically be whatever you want them to be. The pup will learn any name or language as long as it is consistent. Most pups will respond to food based treats, but it is really best to watch and learn from your pup to find out what is the best reinforcer to use as a training aid. Not all dogs are food led and some may prefer to have a ball as a reward or another favourite toy or even just a lot of fuss and praise. Eventually everything will become second nature and the reward can be dropped.
How to recall your dog?
Recall training cannot be started too soon and is the most important to master. A young pup has a dependent need to be close to you and will follow you around wherever you are. It is a good idea to use this time to create good recall and a close bond with your pup. Don’t worry about losing him, you can walk, increase pace and change direction. He will be concentrating so hard to keep with you and that contact with you is not broken.
Call the pup over to you often with the command ‘here’ or ‘come’. Always praise and make a fuss when he comes to you. Many new owners are so worried about losing their pup that they keep them on the lead. By doing so they miss out on this special time where the pup should be learning to follow you about. If this opportunity is missed it could be disastrous when he is eventually allowed off lead! Getting the chance of freedom at the emerging independence stage will mean your pup will not want to give it up and is unlikely to come back to you when you want him to! He will hover around just far enough away but will not allow you to catch him! Very frustrating! He may have little sense of danger or of getting lost which could end in tears.
Clicker training can be started with a pup as young as 12 weeks. Getting your pup used to the clicker sound early on is a good idea. Pups usually find this fun and consider it a game. Clicker training help can be found in Clicker Training
How much exercise?
Your new pup will be very active in between naps. Giving the right amount of exercise is important. Once puppy has had his vaccinations and can be taken out into the big wide world, exercise should be kept to short walks. Puppies bones are still very soft and growing and inappropriate exercise may damage the growth plates. Too much exercise too early could cause health problems later in life. Experts consider that 5 mins for every month of age starting at four months is the rule to go by. However, there are no official studies to support this, but even so, it is a sensible precaution. Working line breeds will have an abundance of energy, so it may be difficult keeping strictly to this!
Keeping these breeds mentally stimulated is therefore important. One study suggests that it is the type of exercise rather than the quantity e.g. allowing your pup to go up steps and jump in the early months. It is always wise to pick your pup up when going up and down steep steps and into vehicles.
Your pup will also need a good puppy bed to relax in after all this stimulation. The puppy first bed is a soft, supportive bed that will grow with your pup and help him settle down for a good nights sleep.
Have fun with your puppy!