Your role in raising a puppy is not only as an owner, you also have to be a trainer. And to raise your puppy the right way, you must be able to train him well. This will make life easier for both you and your puppy, and will help you to create a loving and fun relationship in which you both thrive.
Should Punishment Be a Part of Training?
Training your puppy is not an easy task, especially if this is your first time doing it. To begin, you cannot make a puppy obey commands by beating or hitting him. The training of a puppy should be done in a gentle, patient, consistent and well thought out way. You must also be mindful of your puppy’s age and ability to retain what is being taught to him. His memory will grow as he grows, but only if his training is consistent and repetitive. You will be gradually adjusting his training to meet his level of maturity, so forcing him to do something that he is not emotionally or physically capable of is futile and will be frustrating for the both of you.
It is not effective to punish a puppy every time he fails to follow a command. The only thing he will learn from punishment is to fear you, and this will greatly affect your relationship, his ability to form a trusting bond with you, and his ability to retain the training when he is out of your sight.
What's the Right Time for Training?
Training a puppy is approached differently than conventional obedience training. Seven to ten week old puppies are at the perfect age to begin training, because at this age they have not yet acquired the bad habits that can get in the way of training. In fact, most puppies will easily absorb whatever you teach them at this age. Furthermore, your goal is to teach the puppy to develop some traits that will make it easier for him to adapt to obedience training later on. He should also learn to value your relationship and respect you as a leader, and yet it should be fun for both you and your pet.
Choose a time of day when your puppy is most likely to be attentive, curious and playful. Since it is easier to train him when he is having fun, incorporate training into his playtime schedule. He will learn to have a positive attitude towards training and it will give him a positive disposition in life. Formal training, as well as obedience training, becomes easier if your puppy already has a positive attitude towards training -- the attitude he is forming now with your help. Any owner can achieve this attitude through puppy training, as long as you follow the guidelines for effective training methods.
For example, say you have a puppy that is fearful and is growling at people who approach, whether they are strangers or not. This is not something you want your puppy -- soon to be dog -- to do. Some owners will try to calm their growling puppy by speaking in a soothing voice while petting it softly, a response one might find success with for a human child. However this does not work with dogs.
The puppy will respond to the soft voice and petting as encouragement and will continue or even increase in this type of aggressive behavior. It may be unintentional encouragement, but it is, nonetheless. The message the puppy receives is "this is the way to behave." This is a good example of how some people view their pets as animals that are capable of learning and socializing as humans do. One of the first and most important steps is to learn how dogs socialize and communicate, so that you can train him within the boundaries of his species specific behavior.
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