Puppy Training Basics

Puppy Training Basics

Photo by Photo Lab Pet Photography | www.photolabpets.com

A puppy needs a good learning foundation in order to be a confident adult. But learning is more than just teaching your puppy basic cues such as sit and stay. The most important aspect of the learning process is to introduce your puppy to the environments and situations she is likely to experience throughout her life. Socializing her with people, dogs and other animals will encourage her to be socially confident as she grows. Habituating her slowly to human touch will prevent touch aversions in adulthood.

The brain of a puppy is like a sponge and every experience is stored away in her memory, building her personality. While a puppy might be born with a certain temperament, it is the way she is raised that will truly determine her personality. The more positive and enriching experiences she has, the more confident she will be as an adult. Puppies are learning all the time, not just when they are being trained, so your behavior and the way you handle your puppy will influence her development. Punitive handling and harsh corrections will damage your pup as she grows so stay away from punitive trainers or any equipment that can harm her, including shock, choke or prong collars.

Puppies need to be gently guided into making good decisions, allowed to investigate their environments and given reinforcement for the good behaviors they do, as well as being redirected from indulging in behaviors that you don’t want. All puppies need boundaries, but these must be given in a humane way so as not to instill fear. A puppy that experiences fear or rough handling as she grows is more likely to be reactive and show aggressive behavior as an adolescent and into adulthood.

The investment you make giving your puppy a good learning foundation will pay off throughout her life. Puppies are certainly cute but raising one can be challenging. Seeing a pup develop into a confident adult, however, is worth the hard work.

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  • Great advice. So often people wait to contact trainers when the dog is not longer a puppy and has had lots of practice doing bothersome behaviors. We can still help, but it's harder on everyone involved because now we are modifying heavily reinforced existing behavior. Your new puppy's brain is primed and ready for learning as soon as s/he arrives in your home. Don't wait. Get started immediately! Lisa Matthews Ed.S., VSPDT, CPDT-KA owner of Pawsitive Practice Training in Johns Creek, GA 30002

  • sheila

    I brought home a new puppy and my other dogs don't want to accept it. What can i do to help them all get along?

  • Lin

    Is there a difference between a vibration collar and a shock collar. I am against using shock collar and I know you are also.

  • Kaylee Pasuy

    Vibration collars only vibrate and do not necessarily cause pain, but when used in the wrong way can be an aversive, scary stimulus for the dog. That being said when a dog is conditioned to enjoy the vibration stimulus it can be a useful tool for distance training or when training deaf dogs. Example: If I condition my deaf dog to come to me and get a piece of hot dog as a reward when he feels a vibration, this would be using the collar in an enjoyable way. Shock collars (or e-collars as some call them) can have one setting being the "shock setting" which causes pain and feels like pin pricks/ static shock at a low level and a very painful zap at a high level, or multiple settings including beeps, vibrations, and shocks. On E-collars the beeps and vibrations are used as a precursor to shock and are therefore considered aversive.

  • Ann

    We brought in a trainer for our 10 week old puppy at home, and she used very harsh methods holding his nose and also twisting the skin on his scruff of the neck so he cried yelped and then went on his back. After that one training session (1hr) we were so upset we have cancelled this trainer. But now am worried our puppy is traumatized or even hurt by this trainer. He is playing still but do you think he will be okay and has not been scarred by this?

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