By Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best, a dog insurance and cat insurance agency.
It’s never too early to learn— especially for your puppy.
Learning should always be fun and engaging. After all, puppies aren’t born with perfect manners. They need to be taught appropriate behaviors by you and a professional dog trainer.
Get your training off on the right paw by heeding this message: Out with the word, “No” and in with the word, “Yes.” Accentuate the positive in puppy training. The “yes” can be verbal or conveyed by using a clicker to reinforce a desired behavior. Break down a new trick or behavior into baby steps and focus on teaching one step at a time. Be patient and you will see positive results.
Here are five key tricks every puppy should learn:
Hold a treat in front of your puppy’s nose and motion up and back at a 45-degree angle. Your puppy will follow the treat, bending her head back until she sits. Say yes or click and then treat. Repeat this a few times. Next, show her the treat, but don’t lure her with it. Wait until she sits on her own, then click and treat. Repeat this until she immediately sits every time you show her a treat.
Hold an object in front of you, in the palm of your hand. When your puppy reaches for the object, close your hand and pull away and say, “Leave it.” Repeat this step until your puppy stops reaching for the object. Now, place the object on the floor. If your puppy reaches for it, cover it with your foot or hand. When your puppy consistently leaves the object alone, add the cue, “Leave it” just before you present the object. As soon as she backs off, click and say, “Leave it.”
Start with your puppy sitting. Hold a treat in front of her nose, and motion with it straight down to the floor between her paws. She most likely will follow the treat to the floor, lying down as she does. As soon as she is lying down, click and treat.
Use this in conjunction with the “sit” command. As your puppy sits, hold your open palm in front of her face and say, “Jazzy, stay” while you hold the leash your other hand. When she stays for a few seconds, say, “Good stay” and treat. Repeat a few times. Gradually, extend the time your puppy stays.
Turn training into play time by using the classic children’s game of hide and seek to reinforce the “come” command. Practice this game inside your house. Have someone hold your puppy while you hide in the house. Then call your puppy by saying, “Jazzy, come!” You may need to repeat her name a few times until she reaches you. Click and treat. This is a fun way to teach the “Come” command, and it also teaches persistence in your puppy’s search for you—definitely a good command to know in case you and your puppy get separated outdoors.
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