Baby Steps: The Principles of Puppy Training
There’s no doubt about it, adopting a puppy into your home is a joyous and hectic time. There are plenty of puppy eyes and oopsies as your little one learns the ropes of his or her new home and family, but without proper puppy training and socialization, he or she may not become the furry family member you’ve been dreaming of.
When a puppy occupies his or her time and energy chewing on all the wrong things, soiling the rugs, and nipping at your ankles, it can be a challenge. However, like us, our four-legged friends do grow out of this “awkward” phase… with a little help. Enter puppy training; the answer to most age-related puppy problems, both now and in the years to come.
A Promising Beginning
Your adorably sweet puppy was born with a number of instincts, and tuning into the canine pack mentality is a true asset when training begins. Remember, you are in charge of your puppy’s behavior and, as his or her pack leader, you have an opportunity to teach the correct behavior. Puppy training and socialization is your first step toward the loving, respectful friendship you aim to nurture.
Dog owners should not underestimate the importance of learning opportunities for young puppies. The foundation established in your first foray into the world of canine training is bolstered by puppy socialization, typically scheduled around 2-6 months old. By teaching your puppy how you want him or her to behave around other people and dogs, your efforts will be seen in other endeavors, such as housebreaking and learning commands.
We recommend that your approach to training be light-hearted and fun-filled. Like a human baby, your young puppy is learning about the world at an alarmingly fast rate. If he or she doesn’t acquire new skills immediately, try not to react harshly and avoid punishment at all costs. Practice a couple of times every day, in short spurts of 15-30 minutes each.
Puppies commonly pick up new skills and desired behaviors quickly, so don’t lose heart. Consistent positive reinforcement (and high-value treats that are decidedly scrumptious!) will go a long way toward a well-behaved pup. Part of a good puppy training experience will also allow for teaching you the numerous ways to support your puppy’s development.
Next Steps In Puppy Training
In group classes of no more than 8 puppies, your puppy will learn basic obedience commands, such as “sit”, “stay”, “down”, and “come”. Setting the stage for acquiring new leash skills is similarly critical. The goal at this next stage, around 4-6 months, is to build confidence in your puppy, which can be done swiftly after your pup figures out your expectations. This self-confidence can lead to the trust you are trying so hard to build and protect.
Puppies over 6 months of age can move into higher levels of obedience training, or, after required vaccinations are complete, apply newly acquired manners at a local dog park.
Invest In Your Puppy’s Future
Your participation in group puppy training and socialization demands your effort and commitment. On nights that you’d rather just hang out at home, remember how much your puppy benefits from this endeavor. After all, puppy training isn’t a chore; it’s an investment in your puppy’s future.