Here are a few obedience training basics which, if implemented daily, can make your dog more manageable and an absolute joy to be with. To begin with, the puppy will see everything as a game and enjoy the training sessions. To keep him stimulated and make these sessions enjoyable for him, keep them short. Work on each command for a maximum of five minutes and then change, coming back to the previous ones later.
To make sure that your pet responds to your call and obeys you in all situations and places (like the living area, bedroom, garden or even when you take him out for the evening walk), keep changing the area where you carry out these training sessions. To help with other aspects off puppy training like getting him used to travelling by car or encouraging him to stand still as you brush his hair, try using the click technique.
If carried out in the right manner, obedience training can help build a lasting bond between the pet owner and the animal, besides rewarding the owner with a happy, well-behaved dog at the end of it. As any dog owner can tell you, a well behaved puppy who responds to your love and affection can be a delight to live with and a wonderful companion.
Understanding the puppy’s body language
Dogs communicate with each other using body language. They make use of body postures, sounds produced by them, facial expressions and scents for expressing themselves. They express their emotions through their eyes, ears, tail and mouth. Learn to understand your puppy’s intentions by learning to interpret his body language.
Half closed puppy eyes indicate submission or pleasure. Wide open eyes could be indicative of fear and possible aggression.
In the wild, dogs stare at each other till one of them looks away or throws up a challenge. So, never try to outstare your puppy, especially when he is showing signs of nervousness or aggression.
We all know that a puppy wags its tail to indicate happiness, joy and friendliness. You can know a lot more about your pup’s mood and intentions merely by watching his tail carefully.
A puppy waving his tail slowly and stiffly is indicative of anger. Tail clamped low between his hind legs means the dog is scared. A drooping tail being wagged stiffly means the dog is nervous.
Most submissive dogs and some others like Labradors open their mouths to look like a lop-sided grin. This ‘smile’ is indeed a sign of friendliness. However, tightly drawn back lips with bared teeth are a sign of aggression. Learn to know the difference.
How the puppy sees you
As you work hard on training your pup, he will begin to watch you and read your body language too, just as you read his. He will pay more attention to your gestures than to your words and begin to understand how you are feeling and what you want of him soon, without you having to utter a word.
It is therefore important to work on your body language in order to improve your communication with your puppy. You need to understand that your crouching down with open arm will be seen as a welcoming sign and staring down at him will be taken as a threat.
How the puppy learns
Puppies are fast learners. So it is important that you start teaching them how to behave as soon as you get them home.
Since these smart puppies are quick to associate treats and rewards with positive/ desirable behavior, use such treats, a few bites of puppy food and words of appreciation generously to reinforce such behavior. But make sure you do so very soon, preferable within a few seconds so that he knows WHY he got that goodie.
You also need to tell your puppy as to what he can and cannot do. While it is alright to ignore certain harmless actions which that little creature seems to derive pleasure from, potentially dangerous actions must be nipped in the bud immediately. How you do that could make all the difference- begin with a sharp “NO” to get his attention and reward him when he stops what he is doing. Yelling at him or hitting will not help the puppy learn.
Wanting to play
When your puppy wants you to play with him, he will bow down or raise a paw to attract your attention. He might even offer you a toy or bound up to another dog.
Puppy’s signs of aggression and submission
When your puppy feels brave or aggressive, he will begin by making himself look bigger than he is. He will stand tall as he pushes his chest out, in the process raising the hair on his neck and back. His ears will be pointed upwards and tail, in most cases, sticking upright. He might however wave his tail slowly while growling.
A submissive dog, on the other hand, will try to make itself look smaller. Even a fully grown dog will begin to act like a puppy to show his submissive mood. He may do so by licking the face of the human close to him, rolling on his back, crouching sideways near the ground or holding the tail low while wagging it.
Teaching table manners
As the pup grows older, so does its need to assert himself and establish himself as the boss around the household. It is important to make sure you don’t yield in to all his demands and know when and where to put your foot down. Most puppies choose mealtimes for throwing tantrums. Be firm.
Let the puppy learn that some people around him can be a little unpredictable, especially children. And let him learn that all unpredictable behavior is not always threatening. Help him learn this by behaving in a child like manner occasionally- by stepping towards his bowl quickly, bumping into him when he doesn’t expect you to, rolling out his toys, etc. while he is enjoying his meal. Every time he behaves himself and doesn’t retort back, bark or bite, reward him. Do this from time to time to reinforce the positive behavior, but not at each of his feeding sessions. If, however, he begins to growl or glares back at you, stop immediately and try this out some other time. If the resentment with such freakish incidents continues, talk to your vet, behaviorist or a certified trainer.
Understanding barking and whining
Dogs bark to express themselves. It is therefore a totally natural aspect of his behavior but most dog owners, their families and neighbors are happier if they can control this barking to some extent.
Since dogs do not understand whether their barking is good or bad or the fact that it could cause annoyance to others around them, it is important to tell them how much and when to bark. Your reaction to the dog’s barking will help him learn that gradually.
To teach the dog about acceptable barking, you only need to teach him that he may bark till he is told to stop. A simple command like “Stop barking” or “Quiet!” could be used for the purpose.
All this while, your reaction to your puppy’ barking might seem confusing to the little fellow. He might be perplexed. “There are times when my human wants me to bark. Like when a stranger comes over. At times, he ignores my barking. And at times, he is really vicious- he shouts at me and wants me to stop! Strange people…”
If you are worried about your dog barking excessively and cannot seem to control his doing so, seek special tips from your vet. If the problem persists, you might need to take him for special training or therapy.
Comforting the puppy whenever he whines will give him the signal that he is being praised for doing so. The puppy, smart as he is, will start whining whenever he wants you to pet him or have your attention.
The best reaction, initially, would be to ignore him as he whines. When it sees that you don’t go to him as he does so, he will gradually learn that whimpering and whining are not the easiest of tricks to have your attention.
Come when called
Here is a great video showing the progress of a new puppy being trained from the Online Dog Trainer
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