Starting to Train Your New Puppy, Part 4
This is the last part in the new puppy series. You have brought your new puppy home and should be working on housetraining and day to day household rules. The very next thing to do is to start luring your puppy into a sit, down and practice the come command, getting to your puppy to know it’s name and also the beginning of leash walking. Positive trainers and breeders in the U.S. are starting to introduce clicker training to puppies as young as 3 weeks! As long as you make your training fun and keep your sessions short (2 minutes twice a day) you should be able to start training your pup right away. If you have brought home a giant breed puppy or a breed known for a willful, independent temperament it’s very important to start early!
The whole family can play the come game. Each family member, staff and even houseguests or visitors can participate. Each person should have a few soft yummy treats (pea sized bits of sausage, cheese or hot dog) the people take turns calling the puppy’s name and the command come. When the puppy gets to the person that called, the pup is given the bite of treat. You are working on the puppy learning its name and also come. Later the sit and the down can be added to this game. You call the pup and give verbal praise for the come, then give the treat for the sit or later on the down.
The sit is usually very easy to teach. With the treat in your fist, raise it above the puppies nose, when the nose comes up usually the bottom goes down. As the puppy sits, say sit.
You want to name the behavior as the puppy is doing it, don’t keep saying sit while the puppy is standing. If your pup jumps or puts his paws on your fist just say calmly uh uhn and move your fist just enough to get the pup to sit. Once your pup has done the sit a couple of times, do not repeat the command, especially if you are holding a treat in your fist. Wait it out and let the pup figure out what to do to earn the treat. When they figure it out, don’t be stingy with the praise or treats.
Next is the down command. Have your puppy sit; give verbal praise for the sit. Gently lower your fist palm side up with the treat inside from under your pup’s nose to the ground slowly. Puppies are generally so rubbery and flexible that they will fold or slide themselves into the down position. Quickly open your fist and give the treat and verbal praise. While your pup is down give them a quick belly rub to encourage them to down, as this is a submissive position and some dogs don’t like to down. If your pup gets up and walks forward, then likely you are holding the treat in front of the pup’s nose and moving it out and away from the pup. You must hold the treat well under the nose close to the pup’s chest even so the nose comes back towards the body.
You should have already purchased a soft collar and leash for your pup. It’s a matter of personal preference if you keep a collar on your pup all the time or just while training. A puppy wearing a collar gives you a handle while working on good manners. I do advise that if you have a puppy or dog that looks like the local street dogs to keep a collar on it in case it gets out of your compound. People will take notice of the collar, and you have a better chance of getting your dog back. Put the collar on your pup tight enough that it can’t back out of the collar. Your pup may sit and scratch at the collar, don’t worry as this is normal for the pup to fuss a bit. Attach the leash and crouch down to coax your pup towards you. When he moves to you offer verbal praise and a bit of treat. Try to take a few steps and use the treat to coax him to come along with you. Your pup should be on your left side. If your pup tries to bite at the leash, try to ignore it. Mostly the pup will give up trying to play with the leash, but if you start pulling it away and shouting it just becomes a big game that is hard to stop. If you have bought one of the soft nylon leashes, then they will fold right up in your hand to prevent the pup from having a dangling end to distract him. Try to take a few more steps each time with your pup coming along before you give the treat. Always use your voice like a turn signal or indicator, you may make a clucking or kissy noise or pat your thigh to get your pup to understand he should moving along with you. .You may choose to say walk on or let’s go or even twende as you step off on your left foot. It’s fine to just smooch or cluck to communicate in the beginning of leash training. Never drag your puppy! That is a great way to teach him to hate being on a leash and takes time to untrain a bad start!
In the beginning I use lots of treats to help my pup understand what I want (luring.) You may be wondering if you have to carry bits of cheese or sausage in your pocket the rest of your dogs life, the answer is no. One day your pup will skid up to you and offer a sit with a look on his face that says he knows he has done the right thing. That’s when you back off the treats for a sit. You always use a happy voice for verbal praise, but start to lessen the times you give the treat, start to make it random instead of every time.