If you can’t shake the feeling that your dog is in charge of you instead of the other way around, it might be time to train your dog.
The earlier you start, the easier it is to train a dog. Experienced dog trainers will start the dog training as soon as the pup is under their control. It doesn’t matter if the dog is still with its Mom: Basic skills such as housebreaking, leash training and commands like “sit” can be taught before the pup is 4 weeks old.
In many ways, puppies are like children: They cannot take care of themselves yet and are innocent to the world around them. On the other hand, they are highly observant and will be studying their surroundings and your every move as they learn about our world.
The best approach to train your dog is to incorporate the training into daily routines. To get you off to a good start, here are some examples:
- Housebreaking – This is an important skill to teach your dog. The best approach to potty train your dog is to take your pup on a walk as soon as (s)he is awake in the morning. If the pup is too young to go on a leash, use the back yard instead. Use a suitable command word like “potty” while you are getting out and an association will be formed. Keep in mind that dogs and puppies in particular need frequent potty breaks. For a puppy, every 2-3 hours is normal whereas older dogs can go up to 8 hours without potty break.
2. Leash training – This is equally as important as housebreaking. Most places you will take your dog will have leash laws. Moreover, walking on a leash will keep your friend safe in stressful situations. You can start leash training at around 2 month of age by putting on the collar and letting the dog drag the leash around. This way, it is less a fight over control and your pet gets used to the set-up.
Once your dog has gotten used to wearing a collar/harness, attach a 10-15′ leash, and go on a walk. Reward good leash behavior with a small treat and praise. If your dog starts pulling, simply stop walking. You’ll be amazed by how fast your dog will get the message!
3. Establish yourself as pack leader – A dog can know all the commands but fail to oblige because (s)he doesn’t recognize you as the pack leader. To establish yourself as the pack leader, you have to act as the alpha dog in every aspect of your interactions with your pet. Examples include:
- Every treat needs to be earned by following a command or for doing a good job otherwise.
- Make your dog move out of the way for you by gently shuffling your feet until your dog realizes that it is in your way and moves on its own.
- When going on walks, always leave the house before your pet. The leader leads the way…
- When giving commands, make eye contact with your pet.
- Establish and enforce rules. Praise your pet for following a rule. If a rule is not followed, reinforce training immediately without using physical punishment.
4. Control your dogs food intake – Don’t offer an endless supply of food. Instead, provide food twice per day for grown dogs. Puppies on the other hand should me fed 3-4 times per day. To avoid your dog gobbling up their meal too fast followed by regurgitation on your carpet, consider buying a slow-feeder bowl:
The spirals in the bowl make it hard to get to the food and slow your dog’s eating speed way down and thus preventing choking, vomiting, gastrointestinal discomfort as well as food bloat.
This should get you started. If you’d like to learn more techniques, consider signing up for an online dog training course.