Puppy training plays an important factor in your puppy’s life. When you train your puppy, you teach them the rules of the world—and your home!
For many new puppy parents, training seems like more work than needed. And to an extent, you’re right. Most puppies are highly energetic and mischievous, making them harder to train. If your puppy has a stubborn personality, you’ll need to be more persistent than usual.
We promise it’s worth all the hassle!
When you get a puppy from Petland, we offer a variety of helpful resources to get you started on their training, such as in-store training sessions and training kits as part of our Petland Perks.
Here are some important tips about dog training that you should keep in mind.
Why is it important to train your dog?
Training is the best activity you can introduce to your puppy. It benefits the two of you since you’ll both communicate and bond with each other throughout each session.
Communication is key with training.
We can’t understand canine communication (and they, in turn, can’t understand us!). Training provides a middle ground between human and dog communication.
Through training, you and your dog learn how to understand each other. As the famed Norwegian dog trainer, Turid Rugaas once said, “we need to learn to understand the language of dogs so that we can understand what our dogs are telling us, that is the secret of living a good life together.”
Training can prevent problematic behavior from developing even further into adulthood. It also helps puppies with sassy or bold personalities from disobeying you. More than anything, a good training session gives you and your fur-baby a chance to have quality time together!
What’s the difference between positive and negative reinforcement?
Dog training consists of two methods:
- Positive reinforcement. A positive consequence for completing a task or a desired behavior. This includes providing a treat or praise for following a command.
- Negative reinforcement. A negative consequence is encouraging acceptable behavior. Removing stimuli, scolding, or hitting fall under this category.
Of these two methods, we suggest using positive reinforcement during training. Positive reinforcement motivates your pooch to do the commands you want.
Some examples of positive reinforcement include a yummy treat or toy. You can also provide your puppy with affection through kisses and praises. Your puppy will respond faster to training that rewards their good behavior.
With negative reinforcement, you typically eliminate aversive and positive stimuli from your puppy’s environment. When you get rid of aversive stimuli, you remove an unpleasant activity like time inside of their crate if your puppy accomplishes the command or activity you want.
You remove positive stimuli when you take away your puppy’s favorite toy or avoid providing treats during training.
Negative reinforcement can be effective if you’re only removing stimuli from your puppy’s environment. Another form of negative reinforcement is using physical force on your puppy to receive the behavior you want from them.
However, we do not recommend using this tactic on your puppy. You should never resort to hitting or scolding your puppy for training reasons. Using physical punishment to train your puppy will only teach them to fear and resent you, which isn’t the goal of dog training.
What are some essential dog training tips?
While there aren’t a complete set of “rules” to dog training, it does come with a list of dos and don’ts. Learning the following tips helps you to prepare your furry friend for the world while strengthening your bond at the same time.
When training your dog, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
Your puppy has natural instincts.
All dogs, regardless of age, have natural canine instincts that make them the lovable goofballs we cherish every day. Sometimes, our fur-babies get bored (and for some dog breeds, boredom sets in quickly).
A bored puppy can become disobedient and bold. They may even try to train you instead. Change the setup and sessions every time you train with your puppy so that they’re always up for the challenge.
Puppies do not understand your sense of humor.
You may try to tease your puppy during training by playing pranks on them. This may seem like good, harmless fun, but your puppy may just react with confusion. Leave the jokes for your friends and take training seriously with your puppy.
Be consistent all the time.
Remember: reward your puppy only when they’ve completed its task. Do not allow bad behavior one day, and then try to train away the behavior the next. Your puppy will be confused and will take even longer to learn a command.
Dog training requires patience and timing.
How fast your puppy catches onto training depends on its breed, age, size, and other factors. It may take days, weeks, or even months before they fully master commands. Be patient and consistent.
Take your puppy outside once they’ve learned the commands.
Train with your puppy in different locations like a dog park. Make sure these areas are fenced and secured. Bring a leash with you too.
Teach your puppy one command at a time.
Mixing up commands can confuse your puppy. If you’re teaching them too many commands at once, your puppy may take a long time to learn. Make sure they’ve learned one command before starting a challenging training session.
Never hit or scold your dog.
We cannot emphasize this enough: never use physical forms of negative reinforcement to train your puppy. Your puppy will respond better to rewards than physical punishment.
What commands or tricks should you teach your dog?
No matter how old your puppy is, be sure they understand the 5 basic commands before you try to teach them other fun tricks. These commands are important to use, whether you’re inside or outside your house:
- Sit: Hold a treat in front of your puppy’s face. Then, bring it over their head and wait until they sit. Give the treat once they perform the action. Have them stand up by walking backward. When they sit down again, give them a treat while saying “sit.” Repeat this lesson a few times.
- Stay: Give your puppy a treat while saying the word “ok” or “free.” Repeat this command so that they learn the release word. Once your puppy has mastered it, have them sit and give them a treat. Release them with the cue word. Increase the distance with each lesson while saying “stay.”
- Lay down: Wait for your puppy to lie down and give them a treat while saying “down.” Have them stand up again. Then, wait for them to lie down again before giving them a treat and the cue word. Repeat this command several times.
- Come: Bring your cuddly friend to a quiet area. Call out their name with the cue word “come” and give your pup a treat. Give them another treat. As soon as they finish eating, call their name again. Give them a treat if they respond. Every moment you repeat this command, toss the treats farther away. You should give them a treat every time they come back to you when you call their name or “come”.
- Heel: Pick a cue word to use. For heeling, some owners use “heel” or “let’s go.” Also, decide whether you want your dog to walk on your left or right side. When you and your dog are walking together, give them a treat when they stand or sit next to you. Give your pup treats as they walk beside you, saying the cue word. Your dog may try to walk ahead or walk in a zig-zag—if they do, turn the opposite way and reward them when they walk by your side.
Dog training should always be short, sweet, and fun! If training your puppy becomes boring, stop the lesson and come back to it another time. Some dog breeds are exceptional learners and may excel in obedience classes. You can try private lessons with a dog trainer if it best fits your puppy’s needs. What matters is taking the time to teach your furry friend what it means to be a good boy or girl!
Read our blog, How to Train Your Puppy to Accept Handling to learn more about how you can train your puppy to be by others.