Puppy training can start from day one and there are a few simple tricks that most dogs can start to master just as quickly. Getting the basics down early on will not only make learning more advanced things easier, it gives you a great chance to bond with your puppy!
[If you are stuck doing this on your own - you can always contact our favourite dog trainer in Qatar - Jasmine The Pawkeeper - she's great).
Before we get started- a little word on an old saying. You may have heard “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but you certainly can. It may take a little more time and patience but dogs are wonderfully intelligent creatures that can learn throughout their lives.
Finding the right motivation.
Most dogs are very food orientated. Some are more motivated by praise and others prefer play, but almost all of them love a treat.
Finding out what gets the best response from your puppy is a matter of trial and error. Some may love specially designed training treats, others might prefer human food like small bits of chicken and cheese. Whatever you use, make sure you’re not over doing it.
Having a range of tasty snacks and toys is always a good idea. Try and work out which ones your pooch sees as the most valuable and keep these for the trickiest training sessions. Lower value treats are great for reinforcing behaviours that are almost there.
(Shameless plug!) Whether it’s food or play that most motivates your canine companion, Barkers and Mittens carry a range of all the best options.
Learn, Repeat, Master
When we’re trying to train a puppy, what we’re basically doing is teaching them that the desired behaviour means they get a reward. As your puppy starts to get the hang of things, you can gradually reduce the frequencies of the rewards until eventually you don’t need them anymore.
Don’t forget to praise your pup when they do what you ask as well as giving them a treat. Every time they perform the behaviour you ask them to go crazy with the pats and the praise- not only does it reinforce the training, it strengthens the bond between you.
Some people like to use a verbal cue to let the dog know they’ve done well; something like “good boy!” or “Yes!” said in an excited voice. Other people use a clicker to let the dog know it’s done well. As long as your puppy knows that you’re pleased with it, it doesn’t really matter which you choose.
If they don’t do something when you ask, stay calm and try again. If they still don’t do it, move on without making a fuss- you don’t always want to do what you’re told either! Getting upset at your dog will just make them think you’re crazy. We’re aiming for positive reinforcement of the good rather than punishing the bad.
The first thing that you want to teach is the sit command. This is a really useful one- any time your dog is doing something they shouldn’t a quick “sit” can get them to stop without causing a scene. It’s also a great way of helping them stay safe when you’re out and about- getting them to sit before crossing the road makes it a lot less likely that they’ll dash off.
To start teaching your dog to sit, begin by holding a treat in front of their nose. Then move it upwards. They’ll follow it and naturally come to a sitting position. As soon as their back-end touches the floor, praise them and give them the treat. This is called luring.
Repeat the process a few times until it becomes quicker then introduce the verbal command before repeating. Once they’ve mastered this stage, it’s time to try without the lure.
Tell your dog to sit without using the treat to guide them. Simply hold the treat in your hand. If they do as you ask, they get the treat and lavished with praise. If they don’t seem to be getting it yet, go back to using the treat as a lure for a while and try again later.
Once your dog is reliably sitting on command, you can start giving them a treat every two or three times rather than every time. As time goes on, you’ll be able to phase out the treats (though it’s a good idea to give them one every so often, just to reinforce the behaviour).
You can start working on this one at the same time as “sit!” and it works in much the same way.
Once your dog is in a sitting position, take the treat and move it in towards their chest then down to the floor and away from them. As your dog’s nose follows the tasty treat they’ll automatically move into the desired pose.
Again, introduce the verbal command and start to ween them off the treats as they start doing each stage reliably until they’re doing it whenever you ask.Finally, don’t forget to come in and see us at Barkers and Mittens and let us see how you are getting on!