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Pet Resources - Dog Behavior and Training

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Start “Basic Training” for Your Puppy Right Away

Spring and summer are puppy season, and many homes have been blessed with furry little bundles of joy – along with chewed-on furniture, nipped fingers, and soiled carpets.

Best Friends professional trainers recommend that you begin training your puppy as soon as he arrives in your home. This will avoid these problems and let puppy know what’s expected of him.

Successful dog training depends upon on establishing yourself immediately as the leader. A dog is a pack animal, and when he enters your home, he expects to follow rules and obey the leader. Once he understands you are the pack leader and he knows his role within the family "pack", he will be more comfortable and easier to train. Set boundaries, be firm and offer rewards, especially love and kindness.

Learning the basics

Every dog should learn at least the four basic obedience commands: come, sit, stay, and down.

Choose a time when your puppy is relaxed, but not sleepy, and a quiet area with few distractions. Early training sessions should be short; it’s better to spend a few minutes with a puppy several times a day than to try to sustain his interest for a single long period.

Start with the "come" command, which is important for your pet’s safety. Best Friends trainers recommend using the leash method. Begin by putting a collar on your puppy. Once he’s accustomed to wearing it, attach a leash and standing several feet away, say "come," and gently pull him towards you. As he reaches you, praise him, using a happy tone of voice.

Gradually, your puppy will begin to associate the word with the action and you won’t need to pull on the leash. Once that happens, practice the command without a leash. Remember to give him lots of praise when he responds by coming to you.

Don’t try to accomplish too much at once. End each session on a high note, just after your puppy has successfully performed a command. This will make the training process enjoyable and something to which puppy will look forward.

As you see your puppy make progress with the first command, you can move onto to "sit" and then "stay". Once puppy has mastered these commands, you can begin to teach him to walk properly on a leash.

Getting started
One of the best ways to get your puppy’s training started is by joining a group class. With the help of a professional trainer, you will learn the proper ways to teach, reward and correct your dog.

Training classes also provide an opportunity to socialize your pet, which is important to his emotional well-being. Dogs that aren’t adequately socialized can become shy and fearful. In fact, many behavior problems in older dogs stem from lack of adequate socialization as a puppy. Check your local Best Friends center for Puppy Kindergarten classes.

However you decide to approach training your new pet, remember that three "p"s of successful puppy training: patience, persistence and praise!