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This is the most important part of your new dog’s life, what you do from the day you bring him or her home does matter! From house breaking to obedience training this will make or break your new dog. Now I know that sounds harsh, but if you went to any humane society and see all the older dogs there, you can appreciate what I am trying to tell you. Owning a dog can be a 15 year plus commitment, are you ready for this? If so, then let’s get started!
House breaking your new puppy:
I never was a believer in it, but I would highly recommend that you crate your new puppy. Crating your puppy, also gives the puppy a sense of security and safety. Now you’re probably wondering how a puppy can feel safety and security in a crate. Even though dogs have been domesticated for hundreds of years, they still have wolf like instincts. Dogs 90 to 95% of the time will not relieve themselves in the same area they sleep in. Now that does not mean they can stay there 8 to 10 hours a day by themselves.
You must establish a routine with your new puppy. Now it may seem a little over the edge, but try taking them out every four hours. Once they know they have to go outside to relive themselves, they will catch on quickly. One thing I would also recommend is that when you get your new puppy, try to take a weeks vacation, so you may work on the housebreaking more diligently. Towards the end of your week, try going out of the house a few hours at a time, so your new dog will realize, they will be alone, during the day while you are at work. Some dogs are easier to train than others. It may take several weeks or months for your puppy to be completely housebroken.
Be consistent in your routines, reward good behavior with verbal praise. Make accidents difficult, supervise your puppy at all times when you are at home, don't let your puppy run freely in the house alone. Never punish after the fact, this will only make your puppy afraid of you. If you catch your puppy in the middle of the act, don't yell, just say "let's go outside"! Take your puppy to the appropriate spot.
Always clean any soiled area with a good enzymatic cleaner. Dogs tend to be attracted back to the soiled area by the smell. So make sure which ever product you use says on the label "enzymatic cleaner". Vinegar and water can help dilute odors. Avoid cleaning agents that contain ammonia. They actually smell like waste and can attract your puppy back to the area to relieve him/herself.
You may also want to consider a dog walker to come in during the day, so that your puppy or older dog can go outside to relieve themselves and have some companionship. Another thing to consider is a doggy daycare. Your dog can interact with other dogs during the day, and by the time they get home at night they will be tuckered out and will look forward to a relaxing evening with you.
You want to start as soon as possible training your new puppy with basic commands. Sit – Stay – Come – Down – Heel.
Now everyone has there own way of training, I myself do not feel that you should give treats to your dog, while you are trying to train him or her. I feel praise works much better than treats. When you want your dog to do something, and they only will do it for food, I feel that it is wrong. I also feel you should teach your dog to the commands on and off a leash. You should be able to control your dog when they are off the leash; this is why training your new puppy is very important from when you get him or her home. Spend a half hour in the morning teaching the three basic commands; come - sit - stay. Do not scold your puppy if they do not do what you are asking them to do. They are probably going to want to play more than they want to learn commands. Be creative put some fun in the training.
Start by saying the word sit, then push gently on the rump in the down position, and repeat the word sit. Keep practicing this several times, when your puppy does sit, whether with or with out your help keep praising him or her. Another method of making your dog sit is from the standing position, place your hand firmly behind its rear legs at the knee and push down. You’ll find there’s a reflex action and your puppy will sit automatically.
With a long leash (6-foot), from the sitting position, call your puppy by name and say come while running backwards, gently snapping the leash and say come. Once your dog masters this command, try using a longer leash and keep practicing these commands. Once your dog masters this, try calling him or her off leash. I recommend doing this in a fenced in area, so if your puppy does take off, no harm will come to them (i.e. running out into a busy street).
Now my personal preference is to work with a (puppy or adult) on or off a leash. If any thing should happen you want to be able to know that your dog will listen to you either on or off the leash. This does require a lot of patients! Though I do feel when they are a puppy you have more control of them being on the leash during training sessions. There are exceptions to the rule. Also try making the training sessions fun, be creative, I know other people play games such as “Find the Treat”, “Hide and Seek”, “Follow the Leader”, "Round Robin Recalls", "Hallway Haven" & "Into Flight". What ever works to keep your dog stimulated? Make the training sessions at least twice a day only for a half hour, any longer your dog will get bored, and will want to do something else. If you train your dog with other family members, be consistent, don't train two or more different ways, you will totally confuse your dog. Remember Patience Patience Patience! Never call your puppy to you to punish him or her.
The object is to have your dog remain sitting or lying position, while you walk away. Facing your dog, say the command “stay”, place the palm of your hand in front of your dogs face, and walk backwards a few paces. If your dog should move toward you, gently tug on his/her leash and place your hand out again, and say the command “stay”. This will take some patients, teaching your dog this. Once you master this a few times on the 6 foot long leash, use a longer leash, and if you do end up working with your dog off leash, you should be able to go to one end of your yard, while your dog remains at the other end. Now if you get to this or any point, when your dog is in the stay positing, give the “come” command, once they have come to you, give them the “sit” command, and then “stay” command.
REMEMBER always praise your dog, when he or she does the command correctly. Praise goes a long way, never get angry or yell at the dog. Try not practice training commands, if you are in a bad mood, or had a really ruff day at work. Dogs are sensitive and may react differently towards your tone of voice. Never discipline your dog by calling it's name.
Now for more basic training tips:
It is important to teach you puppy/dog to "WAIT" especially going in and out of doors. The wait command is also great at the food bowl, going up or down a flight of stairs, when you come to a curb before you cross the street, going into and coming out of a car.
Step 1: With your dog on a collar and leash, approach the door and stop. It does not matter if your dog sits or stands when told to Now slightly open the door. If your puppy/dog moves towards the door calmly close the door (without slamming it on your dogs nose) and begin again. Work on this step until your puppy/dog does not move towards the door when you open it.
Step 2: Once your puppy/dog is successful with Step 1, slowly prop the door wide open. Have your puppy/dog SIT, and take one step in front of your puppy/dog so you are facing him/her. Praise him/her as you step. He/she should not be able to walk forward since you are blocking his/her path. If your puppy/dog tries to dart around you, close the door, or step toward him/her so you can continue to block his/her path; he/she will have to back up and start again. Slowly step to the end of your leash. If, at any time, your puppy/dog moves forward, immediately step into you puppy/dog so you are blocking his/her way. Praise him/her every step of the way until you can get to the end of the leash and your puppy/dog is waiting. Do not use the leash as a correction tool. It is only there for your puppy/dog's safety. Once you are at the end of the leash, release your puppy/dog.
Step 3: Once your puppy/dog is successful with the above steps, you can now start to use the word "WAIT" . At a very brisk pace, walk with your puppy/dog towards the doorway. When you reach the doorway, say the word "WAIT" ! Continue going through the doorway yourself by stepping to the end of the leash as before. If your puppy/dog understands what you want, he/she will stop cold and not follow you through the door, but look up to you for permission. When he/she looks at you, praise him/her and release him/her so he/she may then join you. This can be done anywhere you want your puppy/dog to come to a sudden and complete halt.
"WAIT" at the Food Bowl
Step 1: Ask your puppy/dog to sit and "WAIT", place a treat on the floor. If your puppy/dog jumps for it, which he/she will probably do the first few times, quickly remove the treat and remind him/her to "WAIT" . Once your puppy/dog waits patiently for 1-2 seconds, praise and release him/her granting permission to take the treat.
Step 2: Once your puppy/dog successfully waits for 1-2 seconds, begin to increase the time. Have your puppy/dog wait 3, 4 and then 5 seconds before releasing him/her.
Step 3: Have your puppy/dog's food bowl in hand and ask him/her to "WAIT" . Begin to place it on the floor. If he/she dives into it, quickly take it away and repeat the step. Do not allow your puppy/dog to dive into the dish while it is in your hands.
Leave It and Take It
This is extremely useful when you want your puppy/dog to avoid going near something. Use LEAVE IT anytime you want your puppy/dog to avoid touching something, such as food on a cocktail table, dropping food on the floor, a dead carcass, feces. Wait puts your puppy/dog on hold, whereas LEAVE IT means don't go near it unless I tell you to TAKE IT.
To teach your puppy/dog LEAVE IT, place a treat on the floor a few inches from your puppy/dog. If he/she starts to go toward the treat to take it, cover the treat with your hand or foot. When your puppy/dog stops attempting to get the treat from under your foot or hand, reinforce him/her with another treat from your other hand. Once he/she gets the idea and doesn't approach the treat covered with your hand or foot, but looks up to you, you can begin to say LEAVE IT right after you toss the treat on the floor. You want your puppy/dog to learn that when he/she hears LEAVE IT, he/she comes to you for a reward rather than picking up what is on the ground. Once he/she shows avoidance, immediately praise him/her and reward with a treat from your hand. You can give permission to TAKE IT as you do so. When the response is reliable, your puppy/dog should immediately and consistently avoid anything when you say LEAVE IT. This pattern can benefit from being practiced for the lifetime of your dog.
A very common problem with puppy's/dog's is jumping up on people. If you have a puppy start breaking this habit early. If you have an older dog, work on this situation while doing daily training.
Most puppies and dogs jump on people out of excitement, friendliness and as a greeting or means to seek attention. Inadvertently, people pay attention to a jumping puppy/dog by making eye contact, by pushing him/her off and petting him/her. Most people are being polite by telling you they don't mind, when in fact, they really do. You must teach your puppy/dog that jumping is not a way to greet humans or get attention.
Start off by always asking you puppy to SIT before you pet him/her. Most puppies/dog's will always sit for a treat and sit before they are fed. WHY? They have been conditioned by you to do so in order to get an expected reward. Being touched by people is a reward for most dogs. Therefore, if you teach him/her the he/she will never get attention from people unless he is sitting, he/she will begin to automatically offer to SIT for the reward of being touched.
This is NO easy task. Begin with family members first. Do not allow anyone in your family to pet your puppy/dog unless he/she is sitting. If you and your family can teach him/her this task, it will be easier when dealing with guests. If your puppy/dog jumps for attention, turn your back on him/her and walk away. Wait until all his/her feet are on the floor and then pet him/her. If he/she begins to jump while you are petting him/her, stop your petting, turn your back on him/her and wait for him/her to SIT. Keep working on this. You must be consistent. Do not allow him/her jump some times and not others. Do not push him/her off with your hands. This is interpreted as attention or an incitation to play and only makes the situation worse by reinforcing the jumping behavior. Do not allow friends/guest to pet your puppy/dog unless he/she is sitting. Your puppy/dog will learn if he/she wants attention from humans then he/she must SIT!
REMEMBER always praise your dog, when he or she does the command correctly. Praise goes a long way, never get angry or yell at the dog. If you use treats to teach your puppy/dog the commands, make sure once they have done the command correctly you praise them and give them a treat as a reward. If you do not use treats as a reward for commands done correctly, then after your training session, make sure you do reward your puppy/dog with treats for a job well done. Good luck and Happy Training!
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