I am proud to say that Raven is learning things very quickly. She knows that potty happens outside (not in the house), she has learned to sit, down, off, come, stand, shake, drop it (with regard to letting go of what is in her mouth), don’t touch (50% of the time with regard to food), leave it (70% of the time with the cats…if they are not moving, but close to 100% of the time with other stuff, like electrical wires), and be nice (when taking food from our hands). Today she was doing a nice job with heel with lots of reminders and using a treat. Below are some photos of her during obedience training (photos are clickable to enjoy a larger view):
I get asked often how I can train a puppy these basic commands within such a short period of time. It is really not hard to do; it just takes commitment and consistency. I follow Sirius Puppy training techniques, but any POSITIVE training technique which consistently rewards behavior is effective. I don’t use choke collars or prong collars; I don’t yell at Raven; I never strike her. If Raven does something I don’t want her to do, I tell her “no” and re-direct her to something positive that I can reward. I also use a puppy play pen:
Yes, it is ugly, but it is effective. When Raven gets out of control or is not listening, a time out in her pen (with her toys) helps her to settle down.It is not punishment, but re-direction and setting boundaries (just like with kids!).
The basic rules of puppy training are:
- Keep it short
- Keep it fun
- Keep it positive
I use special, yummy treats to train – and later, when Raven has the commands down perfectly, I will wean off of treats and just use praise or play. Raven and I train together every day for very short (less than 10 minute) sessions, 2 or 3 times a day. She loves it because she is spending time with me, she gets lots of praise and we play together in the process. I try to reinforce the training throughout the day by carrying treats in my pocket and taking advantage of those times when Raven does something terrific to reward her (for example, earlier today she walked up to the cats who were snoozing on the rocking chair, stopped, gave a little toss of her head and turned away from them – I rewarded her immediately with a “GOOD leave it!” and a tasty treat). Most puppies will do exactly what you want all on their own at least a few times a day giving you a chance to reinforce positive behavior (example: they will come happily up to you to say hello – a perfect “come” – and even though you didn’t ask for it, go ahead and reward it by saying “GOOD come!” and offering a treat).
Training time is one of my favorite parts of having a new puppy – it is an excellent way to bond with your dog and it can be a lot of fun. I am planning to enroll Raven in a puppy daycare and training class run by a certified trainer – not because I don’t know how to train her, but because it is a good opportunity for socialization with other dogs and people.
If you have some fun success stories with your dog, I would love to hear about it. Please leave me a comment!