When your puppy first arrives, they’re not in a position to receive any education at all. For the first couple of weeks, it’s all about settling them in and ensuring that they’re okay (and don’t feel stressed).
However, over the following months, you’ll need to teach them a variety of skills so that they can function adequately as your pet.
How do you do this? We’re going to show you.
It all revolves around two principles – something that dog trainers swear by.
- Link a signal with a behaviour
- Link a signal with a consequence
Once you understand these two signals, you’re ready to begin training your puppy and welcoming them as a bonafide member of the family.
A signal is essentially any action you take that indicates that you want your pooch to behave in a certain way. For instance, you might say a word and then expect your dog to follow a command. Or you might gesture in a certain way with your hands.
As explained by the professional course, Great Dogs by Brian, signals are imperative if you are trying to train a dog. Dogs don’t understand words directly, but they know what they should do if they hear certain sounds. Eventually, it becomes instinctual for them.
So what skills does your dog need to learn?
First, you’ll want to get your dog accustomed to the sound of their own name. At first, your pooch won’t respond at all. But if you say their name when you interact with them, they’ll eventually get the sense that it has something to do with them.
Don’t say their name at the same time as another command as this might confuse them.
Yes And No
You’ll also want to teach your pooch the difference between “yes” and “no.” Yes is an important signal because it tells the dog that they can proceed. No is equally important, since it tells the dog that they shouldn’t do something.
Shouting “no” is generally a bad idea. Instead, say “no” and then reinforce it with a treat.
Come allows you to tell a dog to return to you when playtime is over or when it is unsafe. Start by practicing this indoors in a quiet environment. Then say “come” and clap your hands a few times. When the puppy comes over to you, repeatedly give the “yes signal” to reinforce the action. You can also give them a treat.
Eventually, your dog will understand that “come” means “walk towards” you.
Sit is the quintessential dog command and something you’ll want to teach before your pooch is 12 months old.
Sit essentially means: lie on the ground until you get another signal. “Sit” is actually quite easy to teach. You simply hold a treat in your hand and then give it to the dog when they lower themselves down and lie on the floor. Keep your hand there. Then when the dog actually gets into the sit position, give them the treat. Repeat daily until you no longer need to offer treats each time.