By Loretta Cleveland, CPDT
I like to tell my clients when they first get a new puppy they should really pay attention to the habits you are creating from the very beginning. The habits and behaviors, whether they are good or bad, will most likely be what you can expect for the rest of your dog’s life. For instance, if you begin by allowing them to jump on the furniture, or people, it will be very hard to change this bad habit as it grows into adulthood. It is confusing to the dog to allow them at times to jump on people, or things, and other times not to. Puppies and dogs learn from the boundaries that we set for them so being consistent early it will make the training for this much easier. The best thing you can do for your new puppy is be clear with the rules and to also be concise. You don’t want to ask your dog to do something more than once because repetition of commands teaches your dog to eventually ignore them. You never want them to think that you don’t care if they obey the commands or not. Good habits, such as coming on command, should be rewarded using positive reinforcement such as a small treat or a happy praise. This will help you get your dog to listen the first time so that you are not repeating commands over and over. Keep in mind that dogs are sensitive to body language and your tone of voice, good or bad. During the initial training of your puppy, you want to be very generous with the treats and praises. Remember you are building a lifetime relationship with your puppy and the generosity will make them want to work with you even more. Your positive and happy attitude will translate to a positive and happy experience with your puppy. Short and successful training sessions are the most rewarding and you should ALWAYS end a training session on a good note.
My training Philosophy is based on very simple common sense. Every dog deserves a well-balanced life, which includes daily exercise, a good training program, socialization, and a lot of love. If you follow that advice you will have a wonderful well behaved companion. And it all begins the day you bring your puppy home and create good habits.