Training Starts Now
Whether an 8-week-old puppy or a 12-year-old senior, training should begin the moment you bring a dog home. He should learn from the outset what is expected of him, or it can cause confusion. For instance, when housetraining, show him from the very beginning where you would like him to eliminate so he doesn’t have to guess. Take your dog out frequently to the spot you’d like him to go and praise him when he does go in that spot. Even puppies catch on quickly with enthusiastic encouragement.
Positive reinforcement training uses a reward to lure your pet into doing certain behaviors. For instance, take a small treat and hold it in front of your dog’s nose. Bring your hand up and slightly over the dog’s head. Your dog will bring his head back to track the treat and instinctively set his rear end upon the ground. You’ve just taught your dog to sit. After practicing this a dozen times, add the verbal cue, “sit,” prior to luring with the treat. The next step would be to do the hand motion without a treat in the hand every time. Use treats less and less until your dog consistently sits without treats at all.
The positive reinforcement method of training teaches your dog the behaviors that you want, while ignoring the behaviors that you don’t. Through this training, he learns that good things happen, whether he gets treats, praise, or pet, when he exhibits the behaviors that you want, and that there is no reward when he exhibits undesirable behaviors.
Duration of Training
To have a well-trained pet takes both less and more time than you might think. It takes less time in the fact that you don’t need to have hours-long training sessions. A few 10-minute sessions a day are all that is required. Training in brief increments keeps your dog interested while giving him the repetitions he needs to reinforce behaviors.
Training also takes more time than you may think, because there is no end date. A dog needs consistent training throughout its lifetime in order to remain a well-behaved pup. This doesn’t mean you need formal training sessions throughout his life, but you should continue to consistently use the commands your pet knows throughout the years so he never forgets what is expected of him.
When you make the decision to adopt a canine companion, also make the decision to begin training right away. Puppies through seniors need to learn from day one the expectations you have for them. Dogs are eager to please companions, and they enjoy training and learning. Most importantly, training offers a chance for you to bond with your new furry friend.