When to Train a Puppy

It is never too early to begin training your puppy.

One of the most important things you can do when bringing home a pup is to establish yourself as the leader and create an orderly and structured environment. Dogs are pack animals by nature, they crave order and structure, and your pup will seek a leader to follow. Quickly establishing yourself as a strong, consistent leader and immediately creating order and structure will give your dog the “boundaries” it needs and prevent him from taking control, which could lead to negative behaviors such as excessive barking, having accidents in the house, nipping, chewing or jumping.

Behavioral training prevents and/or corrects bad habits. It is especially important for a pup because it is much easier to prevent a young dog from developing bad habits than it will be to break them of the unwanted behavior once it has begun.

One of the keys to success is consistency. For example, do not let your puppy on the couch unless you are planning to allow him access when fully grown. Letting him on the sofa “occasionally” sends a mixed message he won’t understand.

The same is true when it comes to chewing. Dogs by nature will choose almost anything. They can’t distinguish between an old ratty Converse and a $200 pair of leather pumps. So if you don’t want your dog treating your shoe collection like his personal toy box, don’t let him chew any kind of shoe.

Obedience training is about getting your puppy to learn certain skills such as sit, stay and come. It is a way to show that you are the leader. Here, encouragement and positive reinforcement is essential to success. When your pup exhibits the desired behavior reward him with praise.

Like dealing with toddlers, you’ll need plenty of patience when training a dog – especially a puppy whose attention span is fleeting. Whatever you’re working on, you’ll probably have to repeat the command many times. Short, frequent sessions usually work best.

Finally, when training a puppy be sure to keep any frustration out of the tone of your voice. Dog can sense your anxiety and may begin to associate training with your unhappiness. If you feel yourself – or your dog — becoming frustrated, take a break.

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