The main secret to training puppy tricks is to make the training sessions short and fun for him. Just like most young children, a puppy’s attention span is short and fleeting. You will have to find ways to make it interesting for a puppy as you keep repeating a command that you are asking him to do. Puppy training is not easy. But it is definitely a rewarding experience when he starts to perform well when asked.
Puppy Training Schedule
Set up a specific training schedule. You can train your puppy three times a day for about 10 – 15 minutes at a time. It may be less if she is very young or easily bored. You can also have longer training schedules when you see that the doggy is an eager learner. Once he or she starts showing boredom or disinterest, it is better to cut the training short. Training can be scheduled after breakfast, early in the afternoon and sometime after dinner.
Giving the pup a reward for performing a trick or command will hasten his grasp of that command. Rewards can be in the form of edible treats, lavish praise, tummy rubs, pats on the head, extended play time with him or getting his favorite toy.
Puppies, much like humans, learn by association. A doggy will work harder at learning something when he knows that there is a prize at the end. At the beginning, you can give a reward each time your pup does a command. As he progresses, only give a reward when he does a command well. Make sure the reward is given immediately after the action. Prolonging the reward would break the association between doing the command and receiving a prize.
Never reward bad behavior. If he jumps up on you to greet you at the door, ignore him totally. When your puppy is dragging your shoe across the hall, don’t say anything to encourage him like ‘awww, how cute.’ This will only reinforce the bad behavior. He will misconstrue the attention you give him as your approval of his action.
One action, one command word
Consistency is important in training puppy tricks. If you are training your doggy at home, make an agreement with other family members on which command words to use. Your pup may become confused when another family member tells him to ‘wait’ while you use the word ‘stay’ whenever your puppy is expected not to move from a spot. In teaching him to sit, use the word ‘sit.’ Tell your other home companions not to use ‘sit down.’ Just be consistent. Keep a list of command words on the refrigerator for everyone to see.
Tricks and Commands
On top of teaching your puppy how to wear a collar, walk on a leash, and go potty, you can teach him fun tricks and commands. Shake hands, sit, stay, and come here should be some of the first commands he should learn. As he grows older, add more tricks like roll over, jump up or speak.
For commands that require more than one action like roll over, it is best to start by breaking up the command in parts. Start with asking him to go down on all fours. When he has mastered this, teach him to turn over on his back. Finish off with teaching him how to roll on his tummy. When he has mastered all three parts, then you can start teaching him to do the whole command in one go. This increases his level of confidence in doing the command and lessening yours and his level of frustration. Complex tricks take a long time to master so do not expect too much at the start.
Remember never to punish the puppy verbally or physically when he doesn’t do well. Apart from this being a cruel act, punishing a puppy has negative effects on his little psyche. You want your puppy to trust and love you and not be afraid of you.
By making training time fun for your puppy, he will learn faster and your bond will grow stronger. There are different levels of commands and tricks that your puppy can master. But this can be done through consistent training and proper application of rewards. As the puppy’s new parent, it is you job to ensure that he receives the proper training so he can be a well-adjusted, well-mannered and highly skilled member of the family.