Whether it’s a pug or a pitbull, that cute little bundle of fluff you’ve just brought home will be a part of your family for years. If you want a dog that’s going to fit in well and be a cherished part of your family, you need to put the time and effort into training it. Dogs have to live in a human’s world, and they don’t understand the rules – it’s your job to make sure they behave how you want them to. As a new dog owner this responsibility can be bewildering, but this quick guide will help you get started training your puppy.
Consistency is everything
Dogs, just like children, develop rules to interact with the world around them. They can only learn these rules if they are consistently reinforced. If you reward certain behaviour sometimes but not others, they won’t understand that there’s a link. In the same way, if they’re allowed on the furniture sometimes but not others, how can they know what you want them to do? Make sure everyone in your house follows the same rules, so your dog knows what they should and shouldn’t do.
Only use positive reinforcement
All dog trainers offer the same advice; never punish your dog. Reward them when they do the right thing, but do not be tempted to hit them, rub their nose in the dirt, or anything else because this is a quick way to end up with an aggressive or nervous dog. If the dog does something wrong, let them know by modulating your voice; loud and low-pitched means they’ve done something wrong, and if you consistently use your “bad dog” voice your puppy will know when you’re not happy with them.
What does your dog see?
Humans cannot understand how their dog sees the world. For instance, if your dog runs away this might well annoy you – it’s unsafe, and your dog should know not to do it. You might be tempted to hit it when it comes back, to let it know that it did something wrong. However, dogs only associate things moment by moment; it won’t know that it was hit for running away. It will think it got hit for coming back to you. This shift of perspective is key, and you should always bear it in mind as a dog owner.
Train your puppy well
These points are essential for any new dog owner, but they’re just the beginning. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of good training for your pup. Take them to puppy classes, agility school, and use every opportunity you can get to reinforce their good behaviour. If you do this, you’ll undoubtedly end up with a wonderful canine friend.