Puppy Training Requires Preparation, Patience, And Positive Reinforcement
Very often, the cute and playful nature of a newborn puppy can be the primary factor in the decision to bring a dog into the home as the newest member of the family. Another factor may be an anticipation of the enjoyment and companionship that lies ahead when the dog matures and, for want of a better description, settles down with age.
However, there is a critically important stage that lies between the cute newborn and the adult dog – puppy training and its adaptation to the home, family, and neighbourhood. And it is this stage that can be particularly challenging to dog owners, to the point that it may lead to feelings of frustration and second-guessing about the decision to get a dog.
Some of the most common challenges that new puppy owners will face, in no particular order, include:
- Housebreaking or potty training
- Crate training
- Establishing a routine (meals, exercise)
- Learning to speak puppy language
- Nipping, biting, chewing, and/or gnawing
- Sleep disruption/deprivation
- Separation anxiety
- Property damage (often due to inquisitiveness)
With a combination of preparation, patience, and positive reinforcement, the challenges noted above can all be addressed and resolved, either through individual efforts on the part of the owner family or in tandem with formal puppy training classes, such as the programs offered by the professionals from Alpha Paws.
There are several ways that new puppy owners can implement the training needed to acclimatize the puppy to its new surroundings and establish the behaviours that will lead to a comfortable and compatible dog-owner relationship. Such processes will consist of:
- Puppy obedience training – learning basic commands/language
- An important aspect for socialization with other dogs as well
- Regular exercise – for general health plus socialization benefits
- Also leaves the puppy with less energy for unwanted behaviours
- Crate training – provides a place of comfort and security for a puppy
- Helps in appeasing separation anxiety
- Establishing a structured environment
- Permitting access to certain rooms only
- Toys specifically intended for the puppy only
- Designated sleeping area (an aspect of crate training for a puppy)
- Regular reward – for the reinforcement of positive behaviour
- A combination of praise and treats or often just lots of praise
- Make puppy training a family affair – full participation by all members
- Plus consistency with all puppy routines, training commands, etc.
While bringing home a new puppy will require a strong commitment to its training and orientation during the first few weeks and months in its new environment, the rewards will be well worth the time and effort invested. A well-trained and well-behaved puppy will become a well-trained and well-behaved adult dog, resulting in a strong relationship built upon mutual respect and companionship.
A critical aspect to establishing such a long-term relationship will be enrolling the puppy in obedience training classes, such as our Puppy Preschool Program at Alpha Paws.
How to Use Positive Reinforcement for Puppy Training
Make it a Family Affair
You can make positive reinforcement training for dogs a family affair. As it involves simple training methods that are easy to understand, anybody can participate. You can even give your children dog treats and teach them the commands they can use to train the pet. They can watch how you train your dog and apply the same technique under your supervision.
Positive reinforcement for puppy training is the best way to communicate to your pet what you want them to do. When you reward your dog after a task, they are more likely to repeat the good behaviour because they love the praise from their owner, and they also like to please.
However, punishment-based training can confuse your pet. If you catch your dog urinating inside the house and scold them, they learn that it is not safe to eliminate when you are around. This is the main reason you may find your pet having accidents when left alone. On the contrary, rewarding your dog every time they urinate outdoors sends a signal that good things happen when they eliminate outside. And this encourages them to repeat the good behaviour.
Use Puppy Training for Different Problems
Training methods such as leash corrections or other punishment-based techniques are ineffective for every puppy or dog. Many times, it worsens the behaviour problem. If you punish an aggressive dog for bad behaviour, they become more aggressive. Fearful dogs become more fearful of even a small punishment. A professional puppy training service can help achieve great results with positive reinforcement training for such dogs.
Make Every Day Interesting
A puppy may begin excessive digging or chewing due to boredom. Training is an excellent way to treat boredom and make their day interesting. Daily positive training sessions help them burn off excess energy and offer mental stimulation. You may be surprised to watch how your pet is eager to perform as soon as you start your daily session.
Make Puppy Training Fun
Keep your training sessions short and fun-filled to be enjoyable for you and your dog. When your dog understands that training results in many good things, they will begin to view the sessions as playtime. Your dog will repeat the good behaviours to get rewards from you, bringing a smile to your face.
Establish a Strong Bond
Most dog owners treat their pets as companions and a part of the family. Positive reinforcement training for dogs is an excellent way to establish and strengthen the bond with your pup while also maintaining their trust. If you put yourself in your pet’s place, you may understand that you will enjoy working harder for a boss who offers perks and praises you for a job done. And you may never feel comfortable in an environment where you are forced to complete a task. Although puppy training requires patience and consistency, it will give you results you will be proud of.
Tips For Housebreaking And Crate Training A Puppy
Training a new puppy in your home involves a good amount of discipline; not in the traditional negative sense, but more from the perspectives of repetitiveness and routine for both the puppy and the owner family.
The key aspects to housebreaking and crate training a puppy include:
- A consistent routine – take the puppy outside after meals, waking, playing
- Establish bladder control – puppy will avoid ‘going’ where it sleeps (its crate)
- Set priorities – take the puppy out on a leash to reinforce that it is potty time
- Establish boundaries – block off certain rooms or entire floors in the home
- Recognize the signs – active sniffing, circling, may mean that it is time to ‘go’
- Positive reinforcement training – praise (vocal/physical); reward with treats
- Avoid negative reaction to accidents – just take puppy outside immediately
- Be mindful of the crate time – a puppy can only hold its bladder so long
- Avoid training ‘shortcuts’ – potty pads can teach a puppy to just ‘go’ inside
One way to establish a base for the greatest success with your puppy training might be to compliment your housebreaking efforts with professional obedience training from Alpha Paws. Our training sessions will help in establishing the basic commands, body language, and dog-owner relationship which can be reinforced at home and guide a puppy’s overall development and behaviour as it matures into an adult dog.
Bringing a new puppy into your home can present a number of challenges. If you feel that professional puppy training services would benefit both you and your puppy, look no further than our dog training team located in Newmarket. Call Alpha Paws today at 905-830-9500 or 1-877-868-PAWS (7297) to discuss how our programs can best support your needs.