Dog Training - Start Training Your Puppy by Winning His Respect
The basis of training your puppy is winning his trust, respect, and confidence. Real training can't begin until your puppy has accepted you as his leader, respects you, and has confidence in you.
A mistake many puppy owners make is confusing love and affection for respect and confidence. It is important to love your puppy. It is equally important for your puppy to respect you, have confidence in you, and see you as the pack leader. Dogs are naturally pack animals and every pack member looks to the pack leader for direction. Making yourself the pack leader is vital to the success of training any dog. If you don't, your dog will assume the role. If that happens, neither of you will be happy.
Failure to gain the c
nfidence and respect of your puppy can create a dog who is out of control, disobedient, and even dangerous. It is important to train your puppy correctly from the start since retraining a problem dog is possible but more difficult than training a puppy correctly the first time. It is critical for any new dog owner, whether working with a 12 week old puppy or a 12 year old dog, to get his respect. That does not mean using rough or dangerous handling methods, but it does mean letting him know that you are in control of the situation. Dogs need structure in their lives and they will not resent you for taking control. As a matter of fact, your dog will appreciate your taking the role of trainer and coach as you begin your training sessions.
When you start working with your dog it is important to keep the training sessions short at first. This is particularly important when working with a young puppy. Puppies tend to have much shorter attention spans than older dogs so keeping the sessions short is fun and essential for proper training.
Beginning training sessions should focus on the most basic commands. The heel command is one of the most basic as well as one of the easiest to teach. Start by putting the puppy in a properly fitted training collar. Be sure to follow the instructions for fitting and sizing the collar to insure that it works as intended. There are other articles in this series about proper training collars. You can also check with your pet store or breeder.
Begin to walk and allow your dog to walk beside you. If he begins to pull, gently pull on the leash. This, in turn, will tighten the training collar and give your dog a gentle correction. If the gentle pressure is ineffective, it may be necessary to slowly increase the pressure. Always be careful not to over-correct your dog. Using too much pressure could frighten him and cause him to strain more. If the opposite problem occurs and the dog lags behind, you should gently encourage him until he is walking beside you.
Most dogs figure out the heeling concept fairly rapidly and they soon realize that they should walk beside you, neither lagging behind nor pulling ahead. You should also pick up the pace and allow him to speed up as well. Finally, walking along, changing pace, and changing direction often will reinforce the lesson the he should always walk at your heel.
From heeling, the next step is for him to halt when you stop walking. The halt works well as an adjunct to heel. As you are walking, stop and watch your dog. Many dogs immediately understand that they are expected to stop when their human does. Others may need the reminder of the leash and the training collar.
After the halt has been mastered, encourage your dog to sit on halt. Once your dog has stopped, gently push on his hindquarters to encourage the sit. Usually after this walk, halt and sit procedure has been done a few times, he will begin to sit on his own each time he stops. Of course, it is important to provide lots of praise and maybe even a treat every time he does as he is expected.
These three commands should be taught without voice. Get your dog used to your body language. We will cover halt and sit off leash in later articles. For now, get your dog to walk beside you, halt when you stop and sit immediately. You will be so proud of him and he will be proud of himself.
Cathy Perkins is a dog lover who is allowed to live with her two dogs, Tillie and Pierrot, in the beautiful foothills of North Carolina. http://dogsrule.hickorypublishing.com
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