Most owners believe that obedience training is best left to the professionals. This is entirely not true, because anybody can do it, given the commitment to success. It is definitely not an easy task, but if you have the confidence and focus to be a “pack leader,” all it takes is for you to dedicate your time and attention to the task.
At home, you must first instill the principles of good behavior as part of your puppy’s training. As you begin the serious task of teaching your puppy how to obey commands, you will find that it is difficult to teach obedience to an unruly puppy.
In fact, if you want to have your puppy certified as a good citizen, aside from the training that he receives from you at home, your puppy must also attend training classes. Beginner classes usually start when the puppy is around 14 to 16 weeks old. These classes also give your puppy the opportunity to socialize with other puppies of the same age or breed, making it easier for you to take your puppy out to dog parks and other public places where dogs are welcome.
Learning from Others
As a pet owner you also get to socialize with the other owners in the class, giving you the chance to exchange ideas with them about training your puppies. You can also exchange stories about your experiences in training and raising your puppies, which can be a big help to you. By observing the other puppies in the class, you will be able to compare your puppy’s behavior with the others in the class and know what is normal and what your puppy is either capable or incapable of at his age.
Puppy class is also a great venue for you to receive feedback on your progress in training your dog at home. The other owners, along with the trainers, can give you insights on what you are doing right, or wrong, in your training. An experienced trainer can easily point out mistakes that you may not be able to see for yourself. It can be very helpful to receive training advice from an expert in the field of dog training.
Training at Home
Some areas do not have classes for puppy training. If that is the case, then you can just begin training your puppy by following a consistent program at home. Training should be scheduled for two sessions each day at roughly the same time each day, with each session lasting about 10 to 15 minutes.
It is important to familiarize yourself thoroughly with the exercises beforehand. Read them more than once and visualize each step of the exercise in your mind. You cannot be an effective trainer if you do not know the exercises by heart. It will distract both you and your puppy if you have to keep stopping to refer to your books or notes during training.
Before the scheduled sessions, mentally go through the exercises that you will be doing with your puppy before you start each session. Remember all the guidelines on how to praise or correct your dog. In training your puppy, you must be confident and focused on what you are doing. If your puppy senses that you do not know what you are doing, or if you find yourself getting frustrated and impatient, then he will also become unfocused and it will be difficult for you to proceed with the training. Take a break until you feel that you can go on with the training in a focused frame of mind.
Exuding Confidence through Preparation
To be an effective trainer, you should be confident about yourself and in your knowledge. Your puppy needs a leader that does not waver in what is expected from him. Do not allow guilt to get in the way, and do not allow yourself to get angry if the puppy is not proceeding as expected. Proper training takes time, patience, and a strong but gentle hand. And don’t forget -- lots of verbal praise and affection when the puppy gets it right.
The proper preparation is important for training, but it is also important that you have the ability to anticipate what could go wrong during training so that you do not lose your patience. A puppy normally makes several mistakes during training, and how you react to this can greatly affect the success of his training. When you are prepared for what can go wrong, or what your puppy is capable of, you will be able to respond in a consistent way that is positive for your dog. And when your puppy knows that he can trust you, and that you are to be obeyed but not feared, he will learn for the pleasure of pleasing you. Your puppy will be able to look up to you as a leader that he can count on.
Image: Darren / via Flickr