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It is essential for every dog, no matter how big, or small, or whether you want to show, or work, or just play with, to have basic obedience training.
If you want to go beyond the basics, that’s great. But at least do the basics.
One way to think of it is that without basic obedience, you and the dog don’t speak the same language — so how can you communicate? But with basic obedience, you can tell the dog what you want them to do, and they will understand you and do it.
Another way to think of it is getting your dog to be a good citizen: They don’t jump on people or run off or indulge in other obnoxious behaviors — because they know what you expect of them.
Find a good class and attend it. Many places have puppy kindergarten classes; this also helps socialize your puppy. Do 10-minute training sessions every day.
And if you like it, keep going. You’d be amazed at all the activities you can do with your dog once you and the dog learn the basics. Training is fun and simple if approached that way. Enjoy it!
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Puppies can be started on training far earlier than many people believe. In fact, waiting until your pup is 6 months old to start training is very late and will be the cause of a lot of problems.
Start right away with basic behavior: Use a simple, sharp “No” to discourage chewing hands or fingers, jumping on people, and many other behaviors that are cute in puppies but annoying when they are full grown. Don’t be severe about it, and praise the puppy immediately when they stop.
- Tie the puppy down in sight of people eating dinner to prevent begging and nosing for food (if you put your pup in another room, they’ll feel ostracized and begin to cry).
- If your puppy bites and scratches you when playing, give them a toy instead.
- Give a good, loud yelp or “Ouch!” when the puppy bites you. This is how the other puppies in the litter let one another know when they have crossed the line, and it is a good way to get your puppy’s attention and let them know that biting is not acceptable.
The other side of the coin is immediate praise when your puppy stops after a “No.” You may feel like this is engaging in wild mood swings (and you may well get odd looks from other people), but that’s all right. You’re making your wishes crystal clear to the puppy.
Your puppy also needs positive as well as negative reinforcement: How would you respond if people only ever yelled at you when you did something wrong?
Introduce things in a fun way without “corrections” just to lay a foundation for formal training later. Formal training, demanding or exact, is not appropriate at this stage. Instead, concentrate on general behavior, getting your dog’s attention, introducing things that will be important later in a fun way, and some other preliminary things, such as discouraging them from lagging or forging on the leash (but not making them heel).
In summary, lay a good foundation for your puppy’s future development and behavior.