Toddlers and puppies have a lot in common. For one thing, they’re impressionable. This is a crucial advantage when you’re trying to train either one of them to mind you. You don’t want your toddler playing with plugged-in electric cords, and you don’t want your puppy chewing them.
Why Put a Puppy Through Obedience Training?
Teaching a puppy to obey you won’t solve 100 percent of behavioral problems. However, it’s the cornerstone for establishing communication between the two of you, according to Perfect Paws.
A well-trained dog can be trusted with a far greater amount of freedom than one who gets no obedience training. Once you’re communicating well with your puppy, you can teach the pooch to do anything from not bolting out the front door, to staying off your new bedspread.
Establishing a Social Hierarchy
The first step in teaching a puppy to do want you want is to establish a social hierarchy. You’re teaching the dog to respect you and be submissive to you. It’s not necessary to use elaborate methods to set yourself up as the leader of the pack in the dog’s eyes.
You can make sure the dog understands that you’re at the top of the ladder by teaching him or her a subordinate role. An easy way to do this is showing the pup how to be submissive by raising a paw as in shaking hands, by rolling over or by licking your hand. To puppies, this is fun. Each activity is a trick they can perform for praise while acknowledging that you’re in charge by minding you.
Using One Important Tool
You only need one tool in order to train a puppy to obey you, and it’s free. That tool is your voice.
How many times can you recall hearing an owner over-reprimand a puppy during training? All the dog remembers is one “NO!” or “Bad dog!” after another.
The essential aspect of training a puppy is rewarding the animal for good behavior. The more times you reward the dog, the faster your pet will learn the desired behavior. Misbehaving tends to get your attention so quickly that it’s easy to forget to praise good behavior.
When you want the puppy to learn a behavior, you need to essentially set up the same situation over and over until the dog understands what you want. If, for example, you want the dog to lie quietly in the back seat of the car while you’re driving, practice this over and over on a quiet street. At the end of the ride, verbally praise the dog. It’s a cycle of repetition and reward for a job well done. Don’t, however, try to teach this behavior by positioning and repositioning the dog while zipping along on a six-lane freeway.
Your voice is also your most important tool when it comes to necessary reprimands during obedience training. The first step is deflecting the incorrect behavior with a one-word command. For example, to get a puppy off a bed, firmly say, “Off!” Then immediately show the dog what you want him or her to do instead, such as leading the pooch to his toys and praising him when he starts to play with them.
If you find you have trouble teaching your puppy to mind you, by all means consider enrolling both of you in a local class to master the basics. Either way, most of the training will occur at home.