DESIGNER PUPPYS: Everything you wanted to know about raising designer or mixed breed dogs,
featuring The BOYZ: Prince Alvin His Cuteness (on left) and Sir Simon The Sad, Cockapoo pups.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Most Important Dog Training Secret for New Puppy Owners

Recently, I wrote an answer to a puppy training question on yahoo answers. People say that some of those questions are really dumb. And they may be right, but really dumb questions can raise excellent issues that impact all of us dog lovers.

For example, the questioner wrote: "But we went to puppy training class so he remembers SOME commands." My response: Why doesn't he respond to ALL the commands taught in the puppy training class?
Puppy Learning (your dog) and Puppy Training (you)
Clearly, the commands learned in the class were not reinforced in the case of the yahoo answers questioner.

Let's take a look at this issue from the standpoint of the way a dog learns. Do you show a puppy how to sit 10 times and then expected him to know the verbal command and the hand signal? And then you stop training him?

Puppy learning (your dog) and puppy training (you) are ongoing processes. For example, I was gone for a week when we brought Simon home from PA. When I came back, Alvin (6 months at the time) wasn't responding to simple obedience commands. No one had bothered to reinforce "Sit," "Down," "Stay," and "Come" while I was gone. He hadn't forgotten them; he just wasn't used to doing them.

The Puppy Training Secret
Okay, it's not really a secret, but I needed to get your attention. It's more like common sense. I had to jog Alvin's memory - every day. I remembered the dog trainer mantra from the It's PAWSible! Dog Training and Puppy Training DVD - incorporate the commands into daily living and make the dog work for his rewards.

Of course you need to reinforce basic obedience training with short fun sessions on a daily basis, especially when you're teaching a new command. But the real secret to teaching dog obedience is to make it part of everyday activities.

But how to you make basic obedience part of your daily routine? Think about the times you interact with your dog(s) during the day and see what commands you can incorporate into your interactions.


  1. You're bringing your dog in from outdoors. Ask him to Sit and Stay, and once you've walked through the door into your home, ask him to Come. Same activity going out the door, unless the dog really has to go!
  2. Before you put his full food disk on the floor, ask for a Sit or a Down.
  3. Your new puppy is shadowing you all over the house. As he's following you, stop, say Come, and lavish a lot of praise.
  4. Alvin gets an occasional ice cube to supplement his drinking water. I get him to lie down, put the ice cube a foot in front of him, and say "Leave It." Once he looks at me, I say "Okay," and he gets the ice cube.
  5. Simon (14 weeks) is leased in the house sometimes because he's not fully housetrained. So we practice the Stay and Come commands a lot.
I'm sure you can think of other situations where you can use the obedience commands. Once you've done these reinforcing activities for a few weeks, they become part of the routine. You will find that it'll make life easier for you and you will have a well-trained dog in no time. As a new puppy owner myself, anything that makes life easier is a gift!

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