Puppy Training from the Puppy's viewpoint

The trick to speedy puppy training is to have your Puppy want the same as you want. Why fight with your little scrap of fluff? You've planned and waited so long for him. You don't want to spoil your new relationship with a harsh method of puppy training. Most likely your first reason in getting a dog is for companionship, so a companion is what he's meant to be - not a source of annoyance. And believe me, just as with a small child, you'll get nowhere unless you can bring him with you!

So you bring your puppy home, settle him in and make him feel at home - and there's no better way to make him feel secure and safeguard your home than Crate Training - the easy way to Housetraining - and next morning Puppy Training! I find that 8 weeks - or as soon as you get him - is the ideal time to start with puppy training. Your pup is programmed to please, to fit in, to trade good humour for food and attention - don't waste this! In two minutes' "playtime" you can achieve enormous results.

And playtime is the key to my method of puppy training. Did you learn more at school when you were forced to study, or when the project was so interesting that you felt compelled to do the work?

Absolutely! And your little puppy is the same. If you can't inspire him to pay attention to you in puppy training, he will simply switch off, and then no amount of shouting, calling or cajoling will get him back for you again.

Your puppy has to think that the sun shines out of your eyes! He pricks up his ears and listens attentively when you say his name because he knows that good things now happen. This is the lynchpin of this type of puppy training, and so you make sure that whenever your puppy hears his name, he stops what he's doing and comes to see what's on offer.

What you Reward is What you Get

So how about a simple system of rewarding what you want to encourage, and ignoring what you don't want? Any parent (including your own, most probably!) will tell you the value of rewards for eliciting desired behaviour. So for this most vital of puppy training tips, use treats, titbits, dinner, toys, games, cuddles, playtime - whatever excites your particular puppy.

There's no need to tell him off either. He most likely will not understand, and simply think that you're not a safe person to be around. Imagine the effect it will have on the future of your recall if he comes racing back to you and gets punished!

A Word about Treats

Now for any reward to work, it has to be good enough to work for, and from your point of view it needs to be eaten fast enough to leave the dog wanting more. So if you're using treats, they are going to have to be very tasty and very small. For dog training they need to be small - for puppy training they need to be tiny!

One of the easiest - and most popular - treats for puppy training is cheese. You can also use finely-chopped cooked chicken, ham or sausage. You chop them up into very small cubes or pieces - just a lick really.

Say your puppy's name and hold out your hand with a treat on, and when you give the pup the treat, it's gone in an instant, before he's even taken his eyes off you. Now he's ready for more, and you can reinforce what you just rewarded him for by going through your play/puppy training again - without losing his attention!

This is a surefire way of a) getting your puppy's undivided attention, and b) becoming a god in his eyes.

And this is why you should never be tempted to take two puppies at the same time. How can you expect a puppy to pay attention to you and your puppy training when a rough-and-tumble with his brother is always beckoning? While it's a nice thought to provide a playmate for your puppy, it can lead to problems later on. Even experienced trainers don't take two puppies at once.

Great Expectations

I'm amazed by the standards some owners expect from their puppy. They seem to require a level of understanding and ability that is adult - and adult human at that!

Keep in mind that your puppy has been on this planet only a matter of weeks! His motor skills are just enough to get him about without falling over; his experiences are limited; his powers of concentration are barely functioning, while his curiosity is insatiable. And yet people ask me why he won't do a sit-stay, why he won't stay home alone for four hours without getting up to mischief, why he likes to paddle in the waterbowl, and so on.

Generally speaking, if you wouldn't expect a two-year-old child to manage a task, you can't expect your puppy to manage it either. He will do what he can to please you ... but he's only a dog.

A Simple Formula ...

Puppy's name - attention - treat; puppy's name - attention - treat. This is the very basis of puppy training: now he thinks you're wonderful, and he listens to you when you say his name.

The way is now open for you to teach him anything you want in your puppy training. You can work on making him the ideal companion; you can teach him tricks to amuse your friends, yourself, and especially your dog; you can join an Agility club when he's old enough and do Agility or Flyball - for fun or competition; you can go in for competitive Obedience; you can train your dog in Search and Rescue, Nosework, Orienteering, Gundog work, Working Trials, Dancing with Dogs ... Once your puppy knows his name and that you are the source of good things, you can choose!