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Training Your New Puppy Basic Commands
Puppies, like children, don’t come into this world with good manners and knowing proper behavior. We as their parents or masters have to teach them.
Some people see baby dogs, can’t resist that face and without really thinking it through, decide that they want one.
Before you buy a pet you need to think about the commitment involved.
Do you have time?
Like I said in sentence number two, puppies are baby dogs. You wouldn’t bring home an infant, turn it loose in your home while you are gone expecting it to take care of itself and stay out of trouble. Your fur baby won’t be able to either, at least until you distinguish the boundaries and train them properly.
Even after he's trained you need to spend time with him. If you don't have much time, then you need to rethink whether or not a dog is the pet for you.
Let your dog pick you.
If you want the best pet in the litter, the one you will get along with the best, let them choose you, not the other way around.
It’s our instincts as humans to want the cutest or prettiest one in the group but I guarantee you will have much better success with your dog if you let them pick you.
It only matters if their markings are perfect if you are going to put them in shows or become a breeder and most of us never do.
Sit in the floor or at least in a chair and let the puppies come to you. There is usually one that will seem to like you more than the rest. If not try another litter.
Teach boundaries early on.
Don’t start behavior you will regret later. Dogs are creatures of habit and like a routine. Once you start something they expect things to always be that way.
When puppies are young they are cute and owners tend to overlook bad habits or behavior. In the beginning you need to teach your puppy what you will expect from him the rest of his life.
If your puppy is a large breed you need to think of him as a big dog even though he is presently only a half pint. That German shepherd may fit in your arms now but when he’s 70 pounds you don’t want him trying to crawl in your lap or jumping up on people.
Sleeping on your bed is not a good habit to start but if you do, be aware that they will expect to always spend the night there if they are allowed to while young. He won’t understand that you have a “friend” over and he is now supposed to sleep on the floor in the hall. Expect to here crying or scratching all night. If you ever foresee a time it won’t be appropriate for him to share your bed you might reconsider getting it started.
You are the alpha.
Dogs are pack animals and are used to having a leader. If you give them mixed signals they will assume the alpha role and that’s not good. At all times remain in control and let them know you are boss.
Don’t use treats or choke chains.
Treats are great but if you use them while training then your dog will expect them and when you start wanting him to heel, sit or stay, he’ll want to know where his cookie is. Too many cookies make’s an overweight pet.
You can train a dog without a choke chain. I do not like them and feel they are a cruel way to train. If you can get them to walk on a leash without it, why use one? Instead of pulling harshly on a leash making your pet gag, just go in another direction letting them know they are not in charge, you are. Do this several times and they learn they need to pay attention to the direction you are leading because you might change your mind.
Use positive reinforcment
Instead of a treat pet them, tell they they are a good boy or girl and repeat the command until you feel they understand.
Don't over tire your dog
Short training sessions are best. If you notice your dog losing interest or getting agitated take a break and come back to it later.
Do not give old shoes as chew toys.
Puppies or even full size dogs can’t tell the difference between an old shoe and a good one you are planning to wear tomorrow. A shoe is a shoe. They all look the same to him.
Early on puppies are teething and want to chew on everything but don’t let them use your fingers. Like all bad habits it’s best to not get this one started in the beginning. Dogs play by biting each other but they have the benefit of thick fur protecting their skin from being damaged.
While they are puppies move your hand and replace it with a chew toy. If they still put their mouth on your hand hold their muzzle and say, “No bite.” They don’t realize they are hurting us and we have to teach them.
Licking in the face.
You may not mind and find it cute but the rest of us can only think of the other things he’s used his tongue for and would prefer he didn’t clean our face with it. This is a bad habit to get into and best nipped in the bud before it gets started. Your friends and family will thank you for it.
Grab their muzzle and firmly say, “No, lick.”
Keep irresistible items out of reach.
All dogs have that certain something they can’t resist, whether it’s tissues, wastebaskets, underwear, socks or food left on the table.
You might get lucky and find a dog that has no addictions but most have something they just can’t seem to control. It’s your job as their master to keep these things out of reach or behind closed doors when you are away from home. Most of them can behave themselves when mom or dad are home but the minute you leave, that tissue paper starts calling their name and they just can’t seem to help it.
All dogs can be house broken.
Some take more work than others or a different strategy but they can all be taught to go in the appropriate area. There are many books on this subject, read up on it and stick to the schedule.
When you first get them, limit the area they are allowed freedom unsupervised. Hard floors are best until they are trust worthy. Carpet and grass look very similar to a dog until he is trained.
When I got my Boston terrier puppy I kept him in a square playpen with his crate on one side, newspapers all around and a bowl of water.
I fed him in the morning and immediately took him outside when he was finished eating. After he relieved himself he was allowed on the carpet for a while to play and exercise, then back to the playpen. I did this about four times a day.
Keep their home clean! If you don't take care of accidents right away this sends him the message that it's okay to make more.
Puppy’s tummies are small and they eat little portions but more frequent.
After a few weeks you can cut back on the amount of times you feed them with larger portions less often. Eventually you can leave food and water out all the time so they can eat on their own schedule but many will not eat until after you eat because you are the alpha.
Crates are not cruel.
BUT keeping them in one all the time is. Dogs sleep a lot when their masters are away and even when you are home they take naps throughout the day.
In the wild, dogs are burrowing animals; they dig a tunnel in the ground to have their young and sleep safe from predators.
Puppies sleep a lot just like babies.
Don’t get a crate that is too large or they may have an accident in it. If left too long they might anyway. Until your dog is house trained don’t put a blanket in their crate, some will use it to relieve themselves.
House breaking a puppy when you work.
It’s best if you are able to go home at lunchtime or have someone who can do it for you. Eight hours or longer is too long to expect your puppy to wait to relieve himself.
For this reason some dog owners will decide to paper train their pet but be careful using this method. Some puppies like to shred paper, also they can’t tell the difference between today’s paper you haven’t read yet and the one he’s allowed to tinkle on.
If you have a yard and a good fence, a doggy door is a good option. Fido can go in and out whenever he needs to without waiting for you to come home. You will still need to keep irresistible items out of reach and make sure he has plenty of food and water. Just because your dog has a way out doesn’t mean he’s self-sufficient.
Dogs need exercise.
If you have a good size fenced yard in the suburbs it’s not a problem but if you live in the city and have a large dog in an apartment they will need regular exercise at a park or walking around the neighborhood. Small breeds don’t need as much room and running around the apartment might be an adequate work out but they still need fresh air from time to time.
This is a bad habit best not to let get started. Dogs penned up or left for extended periods of time bark out of boredom.
Hold your dogs muzzle and say with a stern voice, “No, bark!”
Short sentences are best because dogs usually have a limited vocabulary. You do not need to yell.
Some breeds are more verbal than others but all can be trained not to bark.
Jumping up on people.
When they are puppies, people sometimes think this is cute but when your dog gets older, even if it’s a Chihuahua not everyone will agree that it’s adorable, especially if they snag someone’s pantyhose with their claws.
Put your hand or knee out and say, “No, jump.” You can use whatever word you like just make it simple and consistent. Dogs are easily confused so use the same terms so he can learn. Some people will say, “Down.” I like to incorporate the word “no” with my commands because it lets your dog know it was a bad behavior. Once they learn the word, “no,” if they hear it, they stop what they are doing.
Again, not letting this become learned behavior is the best thing. It’s much easier to deter actions than it is to retrain bad habits.
At some point in time you will have to take your dog to the vet or out in public and it’s best if they are used to being on a leash then to have him pulling and straining the whole while trying to lead the way.
If your dog pulls or tries to run ahead turn and go in another direction. Your dog will turn and follow you. Eventually he will stop tugging on the leash because he doesn't know where you are going. You should always be in charge and not let your dog take the lead.
I did this without thinking from day one when training my dog and now that he’s practically deaf (from old age) I’m so glad I did otherwise we’d have a hard time communicating with each other.
When you train him to stay, put your hand flat in front of his face.
“Sit” is a flat hand motion going down in front of him.
“Go lay down” is basically pointing out of the room. I use this one quite a bit when I’m cooking and don’t want him under foot in the kitchen.
Pat your leg when you want them to, “Come here.” Most of us do this one automatically without thinking.
You can use whatever works for you just make sure they are different and consistent for each command.
Basically, don’t make all of your commands only verbal. You never know when your dog may become hearing impaired and you'll be glad you did.