When training a puppy or a dog to do pretty much anything, there are always aspects that are common to pretty much everything. Rather than write that down 100 times in every article, I’ve decided it is best to outline all of that here on one page.
From my experience in training puppies, these are the most important aspects of training my puppy that I carry with me in everything I do with her.
Replace Treats Over Time
As much as doggos love treats, and we love to deliver those treats, it isn’t always in everyone’s best interest. Yes it is a fact that we use treats to motivate or even maniuplate our dog’s actions to receive the desired effect, but as training goes on, you eventually want to slow down on the calories.
Giving too much treats to your puppy can result in a phenomena I call “SAUSAGE BODY” which is basically where your dog is starting to get a little chubby.
How do we make it so we aren’t constantly force feeding entire meals of treats into our dog’s mouth every training session?
For the first while, while puppy is learning the full trick or command you are trying to teach, you will be giving a lot of treats. The best way to combat this is to break your treats into significantly smaller pieces. A dog isn’t able to tell the difference between a large treat or a tiny one.
Doing this will make it way easier to make your treats last, and will seriously cut back on the intake of your puppy.
Another thing you are going to want to do is eventually stop giving treats for every successful trick. This is done by using an increasing interval technique, and then using variable intervals of treats.
Doing this will teach the dog it is just as motivating to do the trick for the possibility of a treat rather than the guarantee of a treat.
Another thing people use to cut treats out of the training routine is using the clicker. If used properly, clicking the clicker every time you give a treat and major praise teaches the dog the click indicates they’ve done a good job, and their owner (you) is happy.
Eventually, you will only need to use a click to reward the dog. You won’t even need to give treats, although I still like to give my puppy-girl lots of treats anyway… just cuz!
Consistency is Your Next Best Friend
Dogs are “Man’s Best Friend” indeed, but when it comes to training our best friends, consistency is extremely important.
Making sure the training is done the same way every time, in the same environment, with the same rewards will help teach your puppy until they are comfortable enough to try something new or advance to another step.
I always did our training in the dining room, where there was plenty of space and no distractions. I found it even helped to close the blinds so my girl wouldn’t catch her eye on someone walking by or a squirrel across the street.
A daily training routine is important. Much as our children come home with homework after school, our puppies need their education as well. Daily training, around the same time each day is healthy for both your dog and yourself, as there is a lot of bonding that takes place in addition to learning.
Patience is a Virtue
I am not a person who would call themselves patient. I in no way will ever declare that. Having said that, when it comes to training, you will accomplish nothing without a great deal of patience.
This is where I struggled the most. However, through all my efforts I was able to LEARN a great deal of patience from my puppy. She is a very frustrating dog to work with, and although at times my patience has failed me and I just gave up for the day, I kept going until we both understood each other well enough to accomplish what we wanted.
And that is the important part is that mutual understanding between yourself and your puppy.
Another important key is POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT. You never want to punish or get mad and yell at your dog. That will only cause them to fear you, and will send you BACKWARDS by weeks or even months.
If I am struggling to get her to complete the task at hand, I will simply not reward my puppy. I will continue to work with her until she finally does it right, and then she may have her reward. I will never tell her no, or get mad at her, or force her into position.
What is Love? Baby Don’t Hurt Me, No More!
Honestly, I only put that title because I love A Night at the Roxbury. I think it goes without saying, however, that LOVE and TRUST are the two most important aspects of training your dog. Without BOTH of those, you will gain nothing. Neither of you will.
There is no real method to this other than just old fashioned TIME. Spend tons of time together. Cuddle, argue, play, and really start to learn everything there is to now about each other.
I know what I can and can not trust my dog with. She knows what she can and can not trust me with. We understand each other. Not a day goes by that we aren’t happy to see each other first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and all throughout the day.
She annoys me, she loves me, she snoots me, and that is a bond I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. It took a lot of time, and patience and energy into building this bond, and I use the same methods as I do with my kids, and that is how it is done.
I feel like I’m rambling but there is no other way I can say it. This is an intangible factor that is important in any canine/owner relationship. You truly must embrace the concept of “man’s best friend”.
If you feel you are ready, take a look at some of our training articles here:
If you have any insights, please share your experiences in the comments below. If you enjoyed our article or have ideas for other articles, never hesitate to let us know. We love feedback!!