How to train a dog - Introduction
Learn about dog training
Hi, I’m going to do this first bit about how to train a dog, but the others will have something more to say later, Jerry Shep, especially who thinks he knows it all just because he enters dog training competitions.
We at the Pawsome team talked about the best way to help you humans get started in training your fur buddies because all of us at dogspeaking know that if we are a good, well-trained dog we will also be a happy and contented dog. Of course, doing as we are told makes life a lot safer for us to in a world full of cars and other dangers.
Where to start - at the beginning!
So where do we start? You might think it’s best to start with the basics like “sit”, “stay”, “down”, “leave” and “come” and you could be right but there are some other things you’ve got to know at the same time while teaching these basics.
We dogs have more love than most humans can understand. I’d just die for my human mom and I know she loves me, so I like to make her happy by doing what I am asked (most of the time). I think it must be difficult, even for humans, not to love a little puppy but we need a little bit more than love. You might like to read what Bull Staffy said in “Dog Care – How to take care of a puppy”
Lots of good experiences to make us feel safe and secure
Even when I was tiny (well I’m still small but you know what I mean), I was taken lots of places in the car and on my walks, even although I wasn’t very good at walking with a leash.
I was taken to: -
- The dog park where I met lots of other dogs
- Puppy classes
- To morning coffee in other human homes where I met lots of little human pups
- Lots of different places in the car
- The local outdoor café
- Down to the store
Most of this was good fun but I remember the first time I was taken to the café. It was quite scary because strange people would come to the table and I got quite frightened with a lot of big trucks making loud noises in the street. My first visit wasn’t very long but I was taken back, and I got to know the friendly waitress and I began to get used to some of the sudden street noises.
Patience and understanding
The café is now one of my favorite places and the waitress is now one of my favorite humans. Taking me to the cafe would’ve been easy for my human mom just to stop after my first short outing, but she was patient. She understood that it took me a while to get used to new things and new places and made sure I had happy time and enjoyed these new experiences.
Often she’d give me a nice treat because I was not as frightened of something as I used to be. She kept me away from busy places like street markets and loud human parties, but she made sure I got to know a lot more about the world. This was important in making me feel safe and secure in many different places and with new people and new dogs.
Puppies don’t like being left on their own
Since the first dogs roamed the earth, they have moved around in big families or packs because they have always enjoyed company. When we are sent to a new first home, we are taken away from our mom and usually brothers and sisters for the first time and we feel frightened and alone.
Don’t EVER LEAVE A BRAND-NEW PUPPY ON ITS OWN for 8 hours or more, be prepared to take some time off work if necessary until we ‘settle in”. If you do this properly when we are small puppies, it can save lots of anxiety problems later. As we grow older, anxiety problems caused by being left alone as puppies, will cause you and maybe your neighbors some problems so fix it early!
How to avoid anxiety problems
A dog gate or dog pen can be useful here to give us a space that feels secure and safe. Before you place a pup in its place, it’s good to play, give it attention, take it for a short walk and make sure the pup is tired. A Quizel or a Kong filled with treats can keep a pup happy and amused for a while but a human should remain close. It’s good to stay within sight but do your own thing, watch TV or play with the computer. Each day move a bit further away and leave us for a bit longer and soon we can feel quite secure, calm and relaxed all on our own.
House training your puppy
It’s quite simple to house train a puppy but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! You’ve got to keep your eye on the puppy all the time, just don’t give the puppy a chance to mess anywhere except the place you want it to. There’s not much point in expecting a tiny baby not to make a mess because they have no bladder control and puppies are the same so wait until a puppy is around 12-16 weeks old before you seriously start. Its always good to have some pet dog and puppy training pads around to begin with, you can get some on this link, they do save a lot of mopping up!
Do it with love and understanding
House training is about building a good loving relationship with your puppy so punishment for little mistakes doesn’t work.
Punishment just teaches a pup to be frightened of you. You must be patient and every time you think your pup is about to go, (see a puppy sniffing, circling, and pacing are good signs it’s probably time to go) that’s when the pup must be immediately taken to the chosen spot. As soon as puppy does the business, tell him what a good puppy he is and maybe give him a small treat, make a fuss of getting it right!
Teach your puppy a command word
Command words are also a good idea to use when puppy gets it right like, “Good boy “Busy”, or Good boy “Wee”, use your word every time and it won’t be long before he knows what to do on command!
Remember, this is all about giving puppy good habits so be positive and reward. Expect the house training to take 4-6 months, but this can be longer. Smaller dogs with smaller bladders need to go more often than big dogs and the smaller dogs can take longer to become fully house trained and, in some cases, might take as much as a full year. Accidents will happen now and again but stick to it, be positive and it will work out.
Routine is a big part of getting housetraining right
You humans can help small puppies’ control when they go by keeping them to a strict routine: –
- Always feed puppy at the same times each day
- Make sure puppy gets out to do his business first thing in the morning, after each meal, when he wakes from a sleep and of course, last thing at night or anytime before he’s going to be left alone for a few hours
- Use the same same spot every time, puppy will get used to the smell of that spot as a sign to do his business there.
- Don’t let your puppy out on his own when you are housetraining, go with him and stay and praise when it happens – every time.
- Remember your command word, plenty of praise and maybe a treat like a quick walk or a fun play.
A second housetraining method - using a crate for housetraining
I’m glad that none of the humans we know in the dogspeaking gang locked us up in crates when we were little because I don’t really like this idea much. We dogs are clean animals and we won’t poo or wee close to the place we sleep. The idea is that you keep us in a crate making sure its big enough for us to stand up, lie down and turn around and sleep. If the crate is too big, a puppy might decide it’s OK for two rooms, a bedroom and a restroom so this won’t work in a crate that’s too big.
Dogs won't mess their sleeping area
So, we’re in this quite small crate, we want to relieve ourselves, but we won’t go beside our sleeping place. We have no choice but to whine or bark until you pay attention and let us out. You humans MUST be around for this to let us out quickly because if you’re not about and we mess the crate, we’ll start to think it’s OK to mess the crate and won’t bother letting you know next time.
This method does work but it still takes a lot of time and patience and we dogs really don’t like to be put in a small prison; we prefer to be out with the rest of the pack.
Plenty of love and rewards make an obedient dog
Hitting naughty puppies used to be popular just as hitting naughty human pups was once thought to be OK and maybe reward them when they were good. Today you humans seem to have worked out that it’s never a good thing to hit or beat-up kids.
You were also cruel to us dogs when we were being trained; smacking us on the head, rubbing our noses in poo, slapping us with leashes. I’m so glad you have learned that violence doesn’t work! Just like human studies there are lots of dog studies that show lots of rewards and love works better and faster than any punishments for getting it wrong.
She always has treats in her pocket!
My human mom always has treats in her pockets and I’m smart enough to know what to do to get one! All I have to do is be good and please her.
I just do simple things she asks me to do and out comes a treat and often a big hug and a kiss! All dogs will do something again if they know they are going to get a treat and some affection. We’re not stupid but we will spend a bit of time figuring out what to do to get that lovely little reward, the more reward we get, the more we do the thing that you humans seem to want.
How to get a puppy to “Sit”
I found learning to sit easy and fun. I remember it was when I first went to my new home, so I was only 8 weeks old. My human mom gave me a couple of yummy treats then soon after she pulled out another one!
I was a bit disappointed because she wouldn’t give it to me but instead just held it in front of my nose. Then she moved her arm and hand up further in the air and I just followed her hand up with my eyes. Before I knew it my head was up and my bottom hit the floor! She got all excited, told me I was a good girl and gave me a treat but really I didn’t understand her excitement. I enjoyed the treat, then she did it again and again.
Repeat, repeat and repeat
I soon worked out that every time I put my bottom on the ground, she got please and said “sit” and gave me a treat. It seemed to me that she wanted me to put my bottom on the floor every time she said “sit”.
I loved this game and I soon realized that if I put my bottom on the floor every time, she said “sit” I got a treat! What a great, easy, fun game, even for a little puppy. Now of course, she asks me to “sit’ before she gives me my meals, before we go for a walk and lots of other times and its such an easy game to play and always seems to end in a nice fun surprise!
Stop puppy chewing your stuff
All dogs and puppies love to chew things and we soon find the feel of some things is good to chew while we might not like the feel of other things in our mouths. It’s up to you humans to make sure we don’t chew the wrong things by keeping us in our own area with maybe a dog gate or a large pen, making sure there is nothing there that we shouldn’t chew!
Different dogs like to chew different kinds of things and it’s important to supply a puppy with different things you are happy for it to chew.
Find out what the favorite things are? Once we have a few favorite things to chew we’ll be happy to chew them for a long time, even when we grow to be dogs. Having good chew things around will stop us chewing things we shouldn’t touch. Of course, if we’re kept in our own space away from other things we shouldn’t chew then we’ll have learned what is good and what is bad when you give us the run of the whole house.
Dog Training is Fun!
Now I’m back to that love, security and trust bit again but only because it is so important with everything you do with a new puppy.
It’s important to make all dog training a play exercise which is fun and full of treats and rewards but not just food rewards. Lots of happy praise, using dog toys and lots of nice petting. Little dogs can also find this ‘play’ tiring because we concentrate a lot, so not too much at one time but always fun and joy so we always look forward to training time.
Pups need to learn that human Touch means Love
I am so cute that everyone always wants to pet me and touch me, and I don’t really mind much now but that is because I’ve learned that humans touching me is OK and nice.
I was taught to enjoy human touch
Again, it was my human mom who showed me that her touching me makes good things happen. She began touching me from my first meeting; she began touching my neck and then giving me a treat when I smiled at her, then she’d touch the top of my head and same again.
I’d give her a smile and I’d get a treat, then my back and same thing! She did this for the first few weeks and I got to know that her touch was the easiest way for me to get a treat, so it became very enjoyable! I don’t get treats every time she touches me now, but I know touching is nice and it still makes me feel good and I still smile! So many humans think that touching dogs is just natural, and maybe it is, but I still had to learn that it was nice and made me feel comfortable and secure.
Puppies learning to “Come” when called
Coming to your human is one of the most important things to learn because it can keep us safe in dangerous situations and it always makes you humans feel good to see us walking back to you!
The better we dogs are at returning when called, the happier we usually are because you will give us a lot more freedom to run around places like dog parks because you know we will come back to you when called. We get more tired and enjoy ourselves more to be off-leash so all-round we are generally much better buddies to have.
ALWAYS make sure that “come” or “here” or whatever word you choose to use all the time ends up in us getting something good. We don’t want to think we are being good by coming to our human just to be put in a crate or have you stick something in our ears! “Come” should always mean a lovely toy to play with or a nice treat and never a reason to come back to you to be scolded. We dogs will soon learn that “come” means the same as “Fun” and we’ll be there as quick as we can.
Best way to start learning the command “Come” - How I learned when I was little
My human mom and her sister would lie on the floor and I’d be with one of them. The other would call “come” and hold out a treat and she’d go a bit crazy and give me a treat just for walking up to her. She’d then hold me, and the other human would do the same.
You know, these were some of the easiest treats I ever got, it was simple. Soon there would be no treat and they would be further apart, but I soon worked out that once I arrived at the caller, a treat would come from somewhere and she’d go crazy with excitement again. It wasn’t long before we were outside and the distance between then was getting bigger and bigger, but I still knew there was a treat just waiting for me as soon as I got to the caller.
If we get a treat, we soon work out how to get another
It didn’t take me long to work out that even if my human mom was in the garden all by herself and I was wandering around that if she called ‘come” and I went to her, a magic treat just appeared! She was just so happy to see me and even now I am a fully-grown dog, I know how happy I can make her just by turning up at her side, even if I don’t always get a treat.
Happy car dogs learned first to be happy car puppies.
I just love going places in the car. It’s just always so exciting when I get out at another human friend’s house or at the store or best of all at the dog park! You know, if you have a really bad time the first time you do something then you don’t want to do it again and if you do it again you can be very frightened.
So often, the first car ride for a puppy is a very bad experience. The first car trip is often being taken away from your mom and brothers and sisters for the first time. You are put in a big metal box with wheels and it makes a noise and shakes. Before long, it makes you vomit. If this is what happens the first time in a car, then you don’t want to do it again and the memory of that first trip will make you feel sick again.
Try and make the first car trip enjoyable - before the puppy is seperated from mom
I was lucky because my first short trip was just a short trip round the block with my mon and one of my sisters.
I remember, they didn’t allow me to eat that morning so I was feeling quite hungry. Even although I was feeling quite hungry, I had a good time with my family, and I wasn’t sick. It makes a big difference if a first car ride is not all on your own and you don’t have a full tummy.
Arranging a short first trip before you pick up a new puppy is a good idea. A short first trip that is fun with our first family before we are taken away is more fun!
If this is not possible, make sure we don’t have a full tummy before going into a car for the first time. Its best if someone is there by our side to keep us feeling calm and secure. Get it right the first few times and we’ll love going in the car for the rest of our lives!
What to do with a puppy that has learned to hate the car
I know Bull Staffy hated the car when he was very young because his first trip was the one that took him away from his mom and brothers and sisters.
His humans started to use their car as a dog play area for Bull. They’d take him out to the car and just play and give him treats, they didn’t even switch on the engine the first few times. Bull soon looked forward to going out to the car and sometimes, they’d even switch the engine on. After a week or so, they started to take Bull short journeys round the block, but it was always fun before they started. They always had games and treats at the end of the trip too.
Some dogs, like humans will get car sick
Bull soon loved the idea of the car and now he can’t wait for his next car ride. He still gets a bit sick on longer journeys, but a couple of ginger snaps seem to help on the shorter trips and the vet gave him some travel-sick medicine for longer trip
How to train a dog introduction - Summary
This “How to train a dog” information is maybe not the information you expected first up but it is so important that you start training a puppy with the right attitude and start the training the right way.
More than anything else, I’ve talked about: –
- The importance of building that love, security and comfort
- Having good experiences with your puppy – always
- Being patient and understanding
- Not making us frightened or anxious
- Teaching us to love being touched and petted
Then I’ve looked at how I started learning with basics like: –
- How to stop us chewing the wrong things
- How to sit
- Learning “come” when called
- How to make us great car dogs and love the car
Jerry Shep will talk to you about further dog training but its important to get these basics right before going on.
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