Positive reinforcement is the key to success. A common mistake is to punish your dog during training or become angry. This will only cause confusion. You can try to hold your dog's attention with treats and enthusiasm, but know that it is time to end a session when your dog becomes bored or tired. Try to end sessions on a positive note. Eventually, successful training will be achieved with patience and consistency.
It’s best not to punish the puppy for making a mistake. Instead, focus on praising appropriate bathroom behavior. If you catch your puppy in the act, interrupt it by saying “No!” in a firm voice or clapping your hands loudly, then take the puppy outside to finish going to the bathroom. Never swat your puppy, yell at it, or try to rub its nose in the mess.
You can use potty training pads to give a puppy a place to go inside. They are usually scented in order attract dogs to urinate on them. This can be an aid in potty training and may seem necessary depending on your situation. But, it can also cause some problems that may prolong the training period and make it more difficult. Using pads can confuse a puppy into thinking that it is OK to go inside.
Many owners appear disappointed that their young puppy will not toilet when out on a walk, yet relieves itself the second it gets back home. This is because the puppy has been taught to toilet only at home (hopefully in its garden), and being creatures of habit, they often wait until they have returned home before evacuating their bladder and/ or bowels.
It also helps to teach your puppy a “potty phrase” when you take him outside for a bathroom break. A potty phrase is a way to gently remind your puppy what he needs to do when he’s outside. It’s a big help during the potty training phase of puppyhood and you can continue to use for the rest of his life. Pick a phrase like “hurry up” or “go ahead” and say it softly right as your puppy eliminates. In time your dog will associate the phrase with the act of elimination, so you can say it when your puppy gets distracted and forgets what he needs to do outside.
Remember that training is an ongoing process. You will never be completely finished. It is important to keep working on obedience training throughout the life of your dog. People who learn a language at a young age but stop speaking that language may forget much of it as they grow older. The same goes for your dog: use it or lose it. Running through even the most basic tricks and commands will help them stay fresh in your dog's mind. Plus, it's a great way to spend time with your dog.
You may also notice common behavior problems in your dog such as jumping up, barking, or even aggression. The best way to correct any misbehavior is to interrupt it. Shift your dog's attention to something positive. Try running through cues that your dog has mastered followed by rewards. Keep your demeanor cool and confident, and be clear about what you mean.
Training clubs that run the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme - the largest dog training programme in the UK are a sensible place to begin. Here you will learn about every aspect of dog ownership from the Puppy Foundation Courses through to Bronze, Silver and Gold award levels. Go to GCDS Training Clubs in your County to find one near to you or email the GCDS Team ([email protected]) or call 0207 518 1011.