What to Expect When Starting Your Puppy's Training

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How your puppy learnsPuppy

Everyone wants a puppy that's well behaved, happy and sociable, but you'll only get from him what you give. That's why it's very important to start training early. Indeed, training will have probably started before you've collected him; your puppy may have been taught some basic obedience as well as toilet training. But now it's over to you.

Your puppy will learn very quickly, so it's important that he learns how to behave right away. It might be stating the obvious, but your puppy cannot learn without being taught, so from day one, you'll need to teach him how to behave.

There are hundreds of books on the subject and you'll find puppy-training courses available in most areas. Your vet will be able to advise you on what's best for your pet and may even run courses themselves. There are many different ways to approach training, but there are some golden rules everyone should follow:

Good boy: Dogs learn by association, so if your puppy does something good, reward him. Then the action is much more likely to be repeated. But the reward must be linked to the action, so he must be rewarded quickly, within a second or two. The reward itself can be food or praise, or both; it can even be a game.

Keep your teaching session short, say two minutes, but have five or six sessions a day. And train your puppy in different environments; in and out of the house and on walks, but make sure there are no distractions, to give your puppy his best chance of understanding your requests. See article on Clicker training.

Not so good boy: Your puppy needs to be taught what he can and can't do. Chewing, for example is part of his exploratory behavior and he won't know what he can or cannot chew. You need to ignore such unwanted behavior, but that doesn't mean you should shout at him or smack him or glare angrily at him. You should just pretend he's not there.

However, some types of behavior may be too dangerous to ignore, such as chewing an electric cord. Again, shouting or smacking isn't the answer; you must interrupt with the word "No", get his attention and reward him when he stops and pays attention to you.

Just say NO

If there's one word you want your puppy to learn it's 'no'. If your puppy does something potentially dangerous or extremely destructive, you should interrupt the behavior with a firm 'no'. There's no need to shout, just use a low, assertive tone. Once he stops the behavior, reward him with lots of praise.

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