Basic Obedience Training

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It's important to teach your dog basic obedience skills for his overall well-being and safety, and for your peace of mind. But obedience – whether you train your puppy alone or go to a class (some classes won't accept a puppy under 6 months of age) – doesn't have to be hard work. Just remember the three principles of training:

·  Communication

·  Praise

·  Repetition

The first step in training is to make sure that your puppy understands what is expected of him. Next, remember that praise and positive reinforcement are more powerful and safer tools than punishment. Finally, repeating each exercise helps your puppy gain confidence and makes it easier for you to teach him more complex behaviors.
Walking with a collar and leash
Get your puppy accustomed to a collar and leash right away. These are essential to protect your dog throughout his life. When you are outside, try to walk along with your puppy, keeping the leash loose, so that he doesn't get used to pulling. If he lags behind or runs ahead, a few short, gentle jerks on the leash are usually all that is needed to correct him.

Paying attention and making eye contact
Puppies that pay attention learn faster. To make eye contact with your puppy, say his name and hold a food treat close to your face. Don't let your pup jump towards your face. If he jumps towards you, give him a stern "no". Stop the training for a few minutes and then try again. Your pup will learn that if he jumps towards you he gets no attention because you stop the training, and his jumping behavior will stop. When your pup looks at you without jumping, praise him. When he learns to look at you as soon as he hears his name then he's ready to listen and learn.

Following are 4 of the basic commands you will need to teach your puppy, and an overview of how to do this. Each command will be expanded upon in future articles.

Sit
Take a food treat and hold it in front of your puppy's nose in a closed fist. Pass your fist toward the back of your puppy's head as you say "Sit". As his head goes up and back to follow the treat, he should sit automatically. Repeat this exercise until he learns to sit at the command.

Stay
"Stay" is actually a long sit. Start with the "Sit" command and when your puppy obeys, praise him but don't give him a treat. Instead, say "Stay" as you step back and give him an open hand signal. Then immediately give him the treat. Repeat the process, increasing the distance you step back from your puppy. Go only one step at a time.

Down
After "Stay" your puppy is ready to learn "Down". Start with your puppy in a sitting position. Then as you say "Down", take a food treat in your hand, place it at his nose, and pass it down to the floor. Your puppy will follow the treat and lie down. You can soon teach your puppy to "Stay" in this position, just as he learned in the sitting position.

Come
After ten successful "Sit", "Down", and "Stay" attempts, your puppy can learn "Come".

Give your puppy the "Sit" (or "Down") and "Stay" command. Take five steps back, whistle, say your dog's name and "Come" in an excited tone of voice. You can also open your arms to encourage him. When he obeys, praise and reward him. Follow with "Sit". Repeat the command (taking only five steps) ten times, then, once he has this mastered, increase the distance to ten steps. Never call your puppy to scold him or to do anything that he won't like. Responding to "Come" should always be positive for your puppy.

Reprimanding your puppy
Despite your best training methods, even the most obedient puppies will get into trouble and disobey every once in a while. To work on problem behavior, first make sure your puppy understands what you want him to do. If he understands and still misbehaves, a mild reprimand is all that is needed. Follow it by showing the puppy correct behavior and praising him. Ignoring or isolating the puppy for a short period of time after he misbehaves can also be useful. Improperly applied or excessive punishment often backfires. Many puppies become afraid of their owners or sometimes try to fight back aggressively because they don't understand why they are being punished.

 

 

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