Just as a child needs a caring parent; an athletic team needs a coach; your puppy needs a leader and a clear social hierarchy. If you do not take up the role of leader, your dog will; and you will end up with an unruly, disobedient dog. Many people try to win their new puppy's love by letting the puppy always have its way. Buckets of affection is a wonderful thing for most puppies, but it must be tempered with respect.
A training class is not there to train your dog. Its purpose is to teach you to train your dog so you will need to be committed to train your dog for short sessions (5 minutes) several times a day rather than just simply turn up for classes! This little bit of training everyday will be repaid with a lifetime of living with a well behaved dog. You will also learn to avoid problems before they begin as well as receive help to overcome any that you already have with your dog.
Seeking professional help doesn't mean ditching your DIY training program. You can find a professional dog trainer who offers private training sessions, and some trainers even offer online sessions. Many dog owners prefer to join a local dog obedience class so they will be under the supervision of a dog training instructor without the higher cost of private sessions. Plus, classes challenge your dog to learn around the distractions of other dogs.
Dog training classes or private sessions can also be an addition to your own training program. The dog trainer can help you improve the program and customize it to your dog's learning style. Try to be as involved as possible when it comes to your dog's training. You and your dog will be a stronger team when you are directly involved in the training process.
Success is usually attained in small steps. Training sessions with your dog should last 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times per day. This is especially true for puppies because of their very short attention spans. Longer sessions can cause an adult dog to become bored. Start by teaching basic commands. Try to stick with one action per training session so your dog does not get confused.
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.
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.
One of the biggest mistakes new puppy owners make is expecting their puppy to hold it for longer than he is physically capable. The general guideline for puppy “hold times” is that each month of age equates to an hour of “hold time,” so a two-month-old puppy can hold it for roughly two hours. There are exceptions to the rule; your puppy should be able to hold it for slightly longer period of time at night as he gets older and you pup will need potty breaks more frequently when he’s playing.
Though it differs by each individual dog this is the time when most will come up with their own little way of letting you know they’ve got to go. It might be crying at your feet, ringing a bell you’ve set up or waiting at the door — just be sure to pay attention to these signals & follow up. Once your dog knows how to get your attention when he’s got to go you can relax a little and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
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.