So you’ve brought home a new puppy…there’s so much to teach them but where do you start? Crate training and housebreaking are of course top of the list but that doesn’t mean you have to hold off on teaching them other things. In fact, the sooner you work on some of these behaviors the better your bond (and your puppy) will eventually be. Although formal training sessions are good, I like to Incorporate training into daily activities as well as during play (really this isn’t as boring as it sounds).
Every book under the sun talks about training your dog to sit, stay, etc. and yes these are very important behaviors. What is less commonly discussed is the importance of teaching your dog to respond to their name (even if you don’t…eventually they will get it but this will help speed up that process), making eye contact/checking in, drop it and leave it.
Often referred to the “name game” this basically involves saying your dog’s name and rewarding them when they glance at you. I know not complicated so why bother? It helps not only with the obvious (understanding their name) but lays the foundation for “watch me”.
This one isn’t hard in principle either…basically, it teaches them that good things happen when they pay attention to you. This one is very useful when teaching them to heel (much later), interrupting a behavior you don’t want them to do (this also takes time) and eventually that you are more interesting and rewarding than the environment (really important when out and about).
I doubt I need to explain why this is important but it does take a bit more effort to train. Start with a treat in your hand once they stop smelling/nuzzling/etc say “good dog” or click and reward. Once the pup gets that down…start with an open hand and repeat the routine. Next, work by placing the treat on the floor and cover it…same routine…once they stop showing interest reward them. Once they reliably get that you can work on forbidden items (small ones at first so you can block access) placed on the floor and so on.
We should have worked on this one a lot sooner. Take a toy that they like and once they pick it up tell them to drop it (have a reallllly good treat in your hand when you do this…they should smell it and want that instead) when they drop it say “good dog” or whatever your marker is and reward.
All these commands will take time to learn but you can incorporate many of them throughout your day…formal training sessions should be short (prevents the puppy from getting too tired or bored).