In some ways training a puppy is easier than training an adult or adolescent dog. One reason is that the puppy is essentially a “blank slate” untroubled by past training techniques and other issues. In other ways, however, the puppy can be more difficult to train than an older dog.
One challenge to training a new puppy is that puppies are more easily distractible than adolescent and adult dogs. Everything is new to a puppy and every new experience provides a new chance for distraction. For this reason it is best to keep training sessions short when working with a puppy and to end each training session on a positive note.
It is also important to allow the puppy plenty of time to play and to interact with other puppies and dogs. Socialization training is vital to making your new puppy a good canine citizen as dog aggression is a growing problem in many areas. A properly socialized dog learns how to play properly with other dogs and overly aggressive play is punished by the other dogs in the play group.
This type of play learning is something that happens among siblings in litters of puppies. As the puppies play with each other they learn what is appropriate and what is not. Inappropriate behavior, such as hard biting or scratching, is punished by the other puppies, by the mother dog or both.
Unfortunately many puppies are removed from their mothers and sold or adopted before this socialization has fully occurred. Therefore, puppy play sessions are a very important part of any puppy training session. Most good puppy preschool training programs provide time in each session for this type of dog interaction.
Introducing your puppy to new experiences and new locations is also an important part of puppy training. Teaching your dog to be obedient and responsive, even in the face of many distractions, is very important when training dogs and puppies.
One great way to socialize your puppy, both to new people and new dogs, is to take it on a trip to your local pet store. Many major pet store chains and some independent ones as well allow pet parents to bring their furry children and these stores can be great places for puppies to get used to new sights, sounds and smells. Of course you will want to make sure the store allows pets before heading over.
It is important for puppy owners to structure their pet’s environment so that the puppy is rewarded for good behaviors and not rewarded for others. One good example of this is jumping on people. Many people inadvertently reward this behavior because it can be cute. While it is true that jumping can be cute for a 10 pound puppy it will not be so cute when that puppy has grown into a 100 pound dog.
Instead of rewarding the puppy for jumping try rewarding it for sitting instead. This type of positive reinforcement will result in a well behaved adult dog that is a valued member of both the family and the community at large.
This type of reinforcement can also be used in potty training the new puppy. For instance, teaching a puppy to use a unique surface such as gravel or asphalt is a good technique. The theory is that the puppy will associate this surface with going potty and therefore be reluctant to use other surfaces (like your kitchen carpet for instance) as a potty.