Clicker Training 101: Clicking to Succeed
10 Smart Tips for Training Your New Puppy
There's something so special about seeing your furry bundle of joy bouncing around the place - learning, exploring, being that extra cute pups seem to do so well.
As a puppy parent you're no stranger to adorable moments that leave you smiling from ear to ear.
But ... Through their exploratory nature and somewhat strange fascination for those Jimmy Choo sandals you bought just last month, soon you realize that the quicker you get a jump-start on training, the better.
For the love of Choos, and the fact that a trained dog is a happy dog (not to mention a happier owner), below we've put together our top 10 tips for a well rounded and effective approach to training your dog.
So here we go ...
1. Start right away.
Our first tip for training is simply to get started as soon as you get your furry friend home. Your dog will be watching and learning from the get-go.
The habits your pup will start to develop from his initial observations can lead to either household harmony, or chaos.
It’s much easier to teach a habit right the first time than to have to fix it in the future. For example, as adorable as it may be, resist the urge to let your puppy jump up on you.
It’s endearing now, but when he’s older you’ll be wishing you had corrected this sooner.
2. Always praise good behavior.
When it comes to training any animal, it’s always more pleasant and effective to praise the good behavior than to scold the bad. This is true for both the person and the pet.
Your puppy will prefer the path of least resistance, so making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard is a powerful way to promote positivity-based training.
Don’t save your praise for when your dog is learning something new and tricky. Even if your pup has mastered “sit” and no longer needs any reinforcement, show appreciation when it happens.
Recognize every opportunity you have to encourage appropriate behavior.
3. Set your dog up for success.
Would you like your dog to ignore every distraction and respond instantly to every request you make? Of course, right?
But the way to accomplish that is not by throwing your pal into a stimulating environment and hoping he’ll listen to you.
When you’re first teaching your puppy the basics, choose a controlled environment. For example, don’t go to a crowded dog park when teaching the recall command.
Start off in a quiet area where you get to decide the factors at play.
Once your dog feels self-assured in a skill, start adding in other distractions slowly. If you try to do everything at once, you’re setting your puppy up for failure.
4. Have a plan, but be flexible.
Even if you’re the type of person who loves to plan ahead, keep in mind that your dog will have his own schedule.
It’s great to get organized and decide what kind of program you want to follow, but don’t consider it a failure if you have to deviate from it.
If your puppy is progressing slower than you’d like, don’t stress about it. He may just need a different approach or a more moderate pace.
Different dogs have their own quirks and learning styles.
Once you get to know your dog and his personality better, you’ll have a better idea of how to move forward.
5. Figure out what motivates your particular pup.
Many dogs are highly “food-motivated,” meaning that they’ll do just about anything for their favorite treat. It’s easier to obtain a dog’s focus when you know what drives them.
If your dog knows a desired reward is coming, he’ll be alert for any opportunity to please you.
If your pup is not steered by his stomach, try using a beloved toy. Experiment with different types, sizes, and materials of toys.
It could be that your pooch ends up just preferring quiet praise.
Whatever it is that makes your dog tick, use it during training sessions—especially ones in distracting environments.
6. Keep training sessions short.
Puppies do not have long attention spans. It can be tempting to stretch out training sessions, especially in the beginning when you’re excited about your new dog.
The danger with this is that you could end up overwhelming your puppy. Once that happens, it’ll be an uphill battle to motivate him for training sessions again.
To avoid this problem, keep the sessions brief and positive. Make them something that you both can look forward to. As your puppy grows older, you’ll be able to increase the length and intensity of the sessions.
7. Choose your words wisely.
Our pets are such a wonderful, intimate part of our lives that it can be easy to forget that they don’t speak our language.
At times it seems like if we use the right tone of voice, our dogs will naturally understand our intent.
Instead of risking confusion, decide right from the beginning what words you will use as commands. Tell your friends and family what your chosen words are.
It’s unsettling for a dog to be given the same instruction in different ways.
8. Stay positive.
Sometimes it seems like puppies take one step forward and then three huge leaps back. What they seemed to know perfectly one day can be forgotten by the next.
This is just growing pains and not a reflection of your ability.
When you’re having a tough training session, don’t beat yourself up. We all have those moments. When you feel that frustration rising in you, take a step back.
If you keep forcing it, both of you are bound to walk away feeling bad about the situation.
Do something fun with your dog and tackle the problem again later, when both of you are fresh.
9. You’re going to make mistakes (and that’s okay).
Many new pet owners end up discouraged when training doesn’t go exactly the way they had planned. Maybe you accidentally reinforced a negative behavior or tried to force a technique your dog couldn’t grasp.
Even with endless preparation, sometimes things just don't click and mistakes get made, but that's perfectly fine. In truth every mistake, every bad session is but an opportunity to learn and grow, the right mindset and persistence goes a long way.
10. Consistency is key.
This may be the most valuable lesson to remember.
Consistency is everything!
You could have the greatest training session in the world, but if you don’t follow it up with repetition, it will have been for nothing. Dogs need dependable actions and structure in order to feel confident.
You can also apply this tip to other aspects of your puppy’s life. Make sure that you feed at approximately the same times every day.
Don’t change any of the house rules. When your pup knows what to expect, he’ll feel reassured in his home.
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