How To Begin Puppy Training
The best time to begin training your puppy is at the very beginning. It is easier to learn the right way to do things the first time than to have to unlearn bad habits first. The best time to begin training your puppy is at the very beginning. It is easier to learn the right way to do things the first time than to have to unlearn bad habits first. The first thing you will need to do after buying your puppy is to take it home. The safest way to carry your puppy is by using either a harness that attaches to the seatbelt or to use a dog carrier. A puppy who is unused to those devices might feel uncomfortable at first, and cry, or express a desire to sit on your lap. This is a dangerous practice and should not be encouraged. Use the doggy seatbelt or car seat in the beginning and your pup will soon get used to it. When you reach home, the all-important puppy house training should begin.
Fortunately, in most breeds there is an inborn instinct to eliminate away from where they live. Even the youngest of pups will often take some steps away from its mother before doing its business. Dogs are creatures of habit so as soon as you get home, begin taking the puppy to a spot where you want it to eliminate. Give it some time to walk around and explore its new environment. When it does its business, praise it for doing the right thing. Eliminating outside can be frightening at first, because that is when a dog is at his most vulnerable. To a puppy who is used to being inside, the great outdoors can be overwhelming at first, so don’t be surprised if it runs for cover. Gently take your puppy back to the right place, and reassure it that you are there for it. Take it back to the same place frequently, and give it time to sniff around.
When it smells the odor of its last elimination, it will feel inspired to repeat its earlier performance. Again, supply plenty of praise. Do not punish you pup for making mistakes. That will only make it afraid of you. Pushing the dog’s face into its feces is a dangerous practice. It can make it impossible for the animal to breath or cause an infection. When it has an accident, clean up the urine, or pick up the feces and take it outside, showing the dog where to put it. (After your demonstration, of course, you will want to throw the waste away). The use of dog repellants is not recommended because they can cause nausea and vomiting. When walking your dog you will want to use a leash to keep it safe.
This puppy training should begin with a six feet long leash attached to a collar or harness. The use of a choke collar is discouraged, because it causes discomfort. You should be able to get two fingers between your puppy’s neck and the collar. The width of the leash depends upon the size of the dog. A small breed such as a shih-tzu or Chihuahua can probably use the narrowest leash your neighborhood pet supply store has to offer. A German shepherd or a Great Dane would obviously need a much thicker one. First attach the leash to the puppy’s collar (choke collars are not necessary) and have the puppy stand to your left. Say "Sit,” and gently push down the puppy’s rear end until it is sitting. Reward the puppy with praise or a treat when it is sitting. The next command to teach is "down”, and it is taught in the same way. Say the command and pull the puppy’s front paws until it is in a "Sphinx” position.
Reward with a treat or praise. This is puppy training is especially good for large breeds, since it can be used when smaller dogs are around to reassure them that your large dog will not harm them. To teach the pup to walk with a leash, say "Come on.” Then gently pull the dog along, on your left side. Reward the puppy with praise or a treat when he does walks along beside you without pulling. This kind of leash walking can be used where there is a good amount of room around. When you are walking your dog in a crowded place, such as an outdoor fair, you will want your pet to know "heel.” Say the command and gently pull the puppy next to your heel. Reward the dog when it obeys.
The last command on our agenda is "stay,” which is useful when you have guests over who are afraid of dogs, or if you want to open the door to bring in the groceries and don’t want your dog to run off. Give the command and then walk off a few feet. If the dog tries to follow you, put the puppy back to the same place, give the command again, and walk off a few feet. Start by staying away only a few seconds, return, and give the dog a reward. Gradually increase the time as the dog learns. Remember, puppy training should be a good experience for both of you, because you will be this puppy’s caregiver for the rest of its life and it will be your companion and friend. When you are both comfortable with the basics, you might want to teach your new friend some tricks. That puppy training will be the subject of future articles. Have fun. Lea Mullins tells us about how to begin puppy training.