You & Your 12-16 Week Old Puppy
Issuing Good Behavior In Your Puppy
Your goal at this point is to really issue and ingrain the good behaviors you've been practicing through play time and games, and in short minute training sessions more strongly into your puppy.
Now that he/she is more adapted to their overall senses and better capable of understanding and following through with commands given, now is the time to bring training up another step, with keeping in mind, though they can comprehend more, and have a better attention span, they are still babies, and not full grown quite yet.
Learning To Come
The first thing you want is to have your puppy come to you when called or asked. A good place to train is in the back yard, or in a wide open room, where there are limited distractions and it is "fenced" and your puppy can't run off. Make sure you have a standard leash or 6 feet, even though you can go anywhere in between 4 and 8 feet and still be in the standard leash bracket.
Once you attach this to him, because you should have already been doing this, between 9-12 weeks, let him wonder. If you have not done this with your puppy yet, give it a few days before you try calling him. Let him get accustomed to the leash being attached. If you have, good job, you can now let your puppy wonder just a few steps away from you, and then try calling him/ her to you by the name only.
If they do this correctly the first time, as recently stated in my articles, praise the puppy with a "good boy" or a treat to encourage the behaviors further. But, don't get stuck on giving treats to your puppy every time he/she does something good, then they will expect a treat and that will defeat the purpose, as with out one they may stop doing the behavior. Make sure you give other forms of encouragement and praise as well. You don't want your puppy to become dependent on the treats as the only way of being rewarded. So, instead try giving maybe a special toy to them to play with for a few seconds, or praise vs. a treat.
Tip: Also, when you give a "treat" to your puppy, because dog treats are so high in calories and often can make our beloved four legged family members overweight, make sure you break off small pieces to give to your puppy when feeding him/or her a treat as a reward for good behaviors. You will be doing yourself and your pet a favor.
Once he comes to you, let me wonder away from you again, and repeat the cycle, call him back and praise (maybe change your ways of praise every so often). Continue doing this a few times a day to get him use to his name, and coming when asked.
Getting your puppy to come when asked, is a good tool all the way around, it helps in dangerous situations, it builds obedience and gives you a sense of control and safety over your dog in potentially unsafe situations. This is the first thing I always try to teach a puppy, or adult dog without any training.
However, if your puppy does NOT come to you when asked, give a light tug on the lead to gain his attention and call him again while backing up, once you stop, your puppy should meet you in that spot, if so, reward him. Make it a game, make it fun, remember a game to a puppy will make sure his attention is held longer, and will provide that you can stay in the training session with him, a few seconds longer.
Do not reach for your puppy for any reason, this will cause your puppy to thrash or pull, or even become scared of the lead since they are still getting use to it. If your puppy isn't coming all the way then kneel down or pat your leg to encourage your puppy to come all the way to you. And then give him the praise or reward.
Another good thing to practice under the "come" command, is, once your puppy gains the understanding of this rule and concept, you can start practicing with distractions, like another dog, such as you would see maybe walking down the street, or at a park. To keep your puppy from running up to every dog they see, and becoming wild, teaching them to sit still and stay by you is a safe thing to teach.
To teach this, as I always say, keep it simple. Continue the session as when you first taught him how to come. With a standard lead and a wide room that is blocked off from the rest of the house, or a fenced in back yard with limited distractions. Ask your puppy to come to you. Do this a few times to get the session rolling. Once you have, before your puppy gets to the end of the rope ask him to come to you, if the puppy is attentive, they will snap back to you quickly. If inattentive, your puppy will continue towards the end of the lead and therefore need to be corrected with a gentle tug and call, say their name naturally, don't raise your voice or lower it. Keep it level. Once you do this successfully for a few days, you can add a toy as a distraction if you don't have another dog, dog park, or friend with a dog or without a dog willing to participate. If you do, use these tools as well, to help train your puppy. However, with another live dog or person in the room, the training just got harder naturally and may take a few days longer to master. However, stay patient, in the end it will all be well worth the strain and struggle. Keep the end goal in mind, and remember, your puppy is still a baby, he is learning so many new things, everything looks interesting to him. Take it in stride, and be persistent.
Once you get this idea through to your puppy, he will begin to stay close to you as he realizes that running off may have the negative consequences of a tug. This is the first step toward gaining off-leash control, if this is something you desire. A puppy that starts to choose to stay close to you, even though he does not feel pressure from a leash, can eventually learn to stay close to you when not on leash and be the type of dog that follows you around in the yard and stays out of trouble or in eye length. You are still a good deal away from that goal, but in starting this lesson and concept to your puppy you are now headed in the right direction.
Standing On A Loose Lead
Another important aspect of leash training, is to not only have your puppy come when called, or listen to you when you give a command, but also walking nicely on the lead as you enjoy a beautiful troll around your neighborhood. To introduce this idea to your puppy, it all starts back at the beginning when you first clipped the lead to your puppies collar or harness.
Make sure you are in a closed off wide room, or fenced in yard, until your puppy has grasp this idea. Clip the lead unto your puppy, and sit him down next to you (it's ok if he is standing, as long as he is next to you and still). Keep the lead loose, but tight enough that your puppy will not get tangled the lead and the lead is not touching the ground.
You want your puppy to be next to you about an inch or so and no further. Every time your puppy goes to get out of this reach give a quick tug on the leash, gentle but firm, not harsh or violent. Your puppy should look at you, either attentively or surprised, either is good, if he does not, bend down and touch him lightly with the tips of your fingers. When you have the attention of your puppy praise him (and if desired, give him a treat).
Walking On A Lead
If your puppy can stand on a loose leash, it’s time to teach him to walk with you on a loose leash. Pick a command you want to use to give your puppy the command to "start walking" and use this command as you take your first step, and start walking. If he runs to the end of the leash, stop and give the leash a quick but gentle tug back. If your puppy is startled enough to look at you, praise him for giving you his attention (and if desired offer him a treat you can give him a treat- but again don't give him a treat every time, you don't want him to become dependent on the treats).
Once you do this a few times, stop here and there as you walk and just let your puppy be a dog and sniff the surroundings and investigate the area. Or, maybe walk very slowly so he gets the idea of walking with you while sniffing around. When you are ready to begin regular walking, at a regular speed, give him the same command as you did in the beginning to let him know "it's time to go", and maybe give a little gentle tug to further give the idea of this command and encourage him to follow you.
Note About Retractable Leashes
Many dog trainers are against retractable leashes because they say your puppy will always have the sensation that the leash is tight. And that you may be inadvertently teaching him that it is OK to pull you. However, I have always used a retractable lead on my puppies and dogs and never had this problem. I do "lock" the lead at the right length while training and take the prior training and precautions before letting my dog loose on the lead, however, after they have been trained under the training I have written in my 9-12 week article of "you and your 9-12 week old puppy" this article of training, I then introduce lightly the idea and training them in the "rules" of being on a retractable lead, I practice the "leadership mentality" of keeping the dog behind me as we walk, and close, I don't let my dog get too far away or too close as to trip me. I practice "safe walking" rules and I stay consist in this. However, if you do this, it is more work, and you need to be through with your training, and careful when walking your dog more than with a standard leash. Therefore, for first time dog owners, I personally would urge that you use a standard rope lead and not a retractable lead to begin with. Just until you have been a bit more experienced with your puppy/dog and they understand the basic walking "rules" and concepts. Just to be safe.