Training Your Dog

Lets talk about the most effective methods of training. We’ll caution trainers about pitfalls and bad habits, and mention things that should specifically be avoided.

Puppy Training

Formal dog obedience training usually starts between 9 to 12 weeks of age. However, the training of your puppy starts the day you bring your puppy home. Dogs start learning the moment they are born, so its helpful if you start with the right lessons.

Every puppy should learn some core lessons and skills:

  • Not to go to the toilet inside – preferably outside and on command
  • To come when called
  • Not to jump on furniture (or on people)
  • Not to bite or nip at hands and skin
  • To “leave it” when commanded

Potty Training

People often limit their potty draining to yelling when the dog makes a mess, or rubbing the dogs nose in it. This is not as effective as you might think. Timing is everything – you must catch your puppy in the act – if punishment comes even moments after the act, the puppy won’t know why he’s being punished.

If you do catch your puppy in the act, make an sudden noise (like clapping your hands), and say “Bad dog” in a low voice. Take him outside, to where he’s supposed to do his business, and let him finish there.

Early in the training, you can use confinement to educate. This means you place your puppy in an empty cage or crate. Most dogs instinctively don’t want to mess where they live, so they will try to hold it. The space should be big enough for the puppy to turn around and lay down, but that’s all. If it is bigger, you’ll encourage your puppy to make a mess at one end, and sleep at the other end.

Learning Words

You’ll want to teach your puppy to associate certain words with specific actions or behaviors. For example, when you take your dog outside, talk constantly saying “Let’s go outside, do you want to go outside, yay outside, let’s see what’s outside”. Put your emphasis on the word “outside”, and eventually your dog will learn to associate the word with going outside.

Puppy Nips (biting)

Puppies use their mouths to handle things and to explore. A litter of puppies tumble and play, biting at each other. If one puppy bites another one with too much force, the bitten puppy will let out a yelp. This lets the biting dog know to bite softer next time. It’s how puppies learn, by testing their limits.

Dogs will push to find their limits with you too, and that includes mouthing and biting you. The best way to respond to this is with a high-pitched “Ouch” – even if it didn’t hurt. This encourages your dog not to bite or nip. You should start doing this right away – its never too early to teach your dog not to bite.

Loud Barking

Barking is natural for a dog. It’s part of how they communicate, and it’s not something you should get angry about. You can train your dog not to bark.