Whether you train your new puppy or dog yourself, take classes, or hire a private trainer, some basic training tips should be tackled right out of the gate. These top 10 tips from professional dog trainers at the top of their game will help get you going.
Top 10 training tips
- Choose your dog’s name wisely and be respectful of it. Of course you’ll want to pick a name for your new puppy or dog that you love, but for the purposes of training it also helps to consider a short name ending with a strong consonant. This allows you to say his name so that he can always hear it clearly. A strong ending (i.e. Jasper, Jack, Ginger) perks up puppy ears—especially when you place a strong emphasize at the end.
If he’s an older dog, he’s probably used to his name; however, changing it isn’t out of the question. If he’s from a shelter, they may neglect to tell you that he has a temporary name assigned to him by staff. If he’s from a breeder, he’ll come to you with a long name, which you may want to shorten, or change. And if he’s coming out of an abusive situation, a new name may represent a fresh start. But we’re lucky: dogs are extremely adaptable. And soon enough, if you use it consistently, he will respond to his new name.
New name or old, as much as possible, associate it with pleasant, fun things, rather than negative. The goal is for him to think of his name the same way he thinks of other great stuff in his life, like “walk,” “cookie,” or “dinner!”
- Decide on the “house rules.” Before he comes home, decide what he can and can’t do. Is he allowed on the bed or the furniture? Are parts of the house off limits? Will he have his own chair at your dining table? If the rules are settled on early, you can avoid confusion for both of you.
- Set up his private den. He needs “a room of his own.” From the earliest possible moment give your pup or dog his own, private sleeping place that’s not used by anyone else in the family, or another pet. He’ll benefit from short periods left alone in the comfort and safety of his den. Reward him if he remains relaxed and quiet. His den, which is often a crate, will also be a valuable tool for housetraining.
- Help him relax when he comes home. When your puppy gets home, give him a warm hot water bottle and put a ticking clock near his sleeping area. This imitates the heat and heartbeat of his litter mates and will soothe him in his new environment. This may be even more important for a new dog from a busy, loud shelter who’s had a rough time early on. Whatever you can do to help him get comfortable in his new home will be good for both of you.
- Teach him to come when called. Come Jasper! Good boy! Teaching him to come is the command to be mastered first and foremost. And since he’ll be coming to you, your alpha status will be reinforced. Get on his level and tell him to come using his name. When he does, make a big deal using positive reinforcement. Then try it when he’s busy with something interesting. You’ll really see the benefits of perfecting this command early as he gets older.
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