Please keep in mind that these training techniques are what I use in raising my dogs and have had much success with them, this is why I am making these training tips available to my potential and current puppy parents. You can ask professional trainers and friends for advice but the BEST person to go to for advice first is always your breeder. Your breeder takes much time in raising their dogs and often have dependable, well accredited trainers just a phone call away. I chose to make the commitment in bringing new lives into the world and I want to share the joy of having a well behaved, rare breed dog. The reason many dogs end up in rescues is because of breeders who do not commit to ensuring their puppies go to the right homes and do not care what happens when they leave their homes.
What are the pros of crate training your new puppy?
- Potty training is much easier with a crate trained puppy.
- Saves you money on household destruction.
- Your puppy has a 'safe place.'
- Your puppy/dog is safest in a crate while travelling.
- If your puppy is going to be a sport dog, it best be crate trained.
- Your puppy/dog will be less stressed out in a Vet Clinic or Grooming Salon.
OFF LEASH TRAINING
When should off leash training start?
Immediately after getting your puppy! Your puppy has just integrated into a new pack, you being the pack leader which means it is naturally going to want to follow you. Many people are worried that their puppy is going to take off when it is off leash, this is often not the case with an 8-12 week old puppy. Also keep in mind that it is much easier to catch a wandering 3 month old puppy than a fast 6 month old! Catahoulas look to the owners for constant direction, when your puppy is young it is not going to want to leave your side because it is learning what it wants from its master. If you have your puppy off leash and it decides to sit an cry, most people react by 'aww, it's okay puppy!' And walk over and pick it up. Tough love! Continue walking and encourage the puppy to follow you by saying 'come on' or 'let's go!' If he knows that you are going to leave if he doesn't start moving, he will get his butt moving!
How do I teach my puppy to come?
Teaching the come command should start early and be done properly. Teaching this command incorrectly at an early age can have a lasting effect which is very hard to re-train. How many times do you want to call your dog if it is about to run across a busy street of traffic? Once. When you first start to teach this that is how many time you want to be calling your puppy's name. Start these training exercises in your yard or house. While your puppy is distracted playing and has no contact with you, call its name once. If your puppy comes bounding to you after one call it should be the greatest thing in the world! When he gets to you be very excited and say 'good come!' Reward with a treat or just plenty of scratches and love. Do not call your puppy more than once otherwise it will start to think that it does not need to come until it feels like coming. DO NOT over do this exercise either. Doing so will start telling your puppy that it is not allowed to explore and play because you are calling it constantly. Remember that you want to be the most exciting and interesting thing to your puppy when it is called so that no matter what it is distracted with, it would rather be with you. After your puppy starts to come by calling its name regularly start to add the command (come or here) and hand signal (hand flat, palm facing puppy on your right or left side.) Impress people with how well behaved your puppy is at such a young age!
TRAINING vs TIME
At what age do I start training my puppy?
It is NEVER to early to start training! Your puppy starts training as early as 3 weeks old. Training starts with Mom and Dad as soon as your puppy becomes mobile and playful. The first 10 weeks of a puppy's life is the most crucial for training, these are when good and bad habits start to form. The difference between a good breeder and a bad breeder is when they will let their puppies go. A puppy that is let go at 5 weeks is going to be worse off and have more issues than a puppy that is let go at 8 weeks. Just because the puppy is eating solid food does not mean it is ready to go! Between 5 and 8 weeks puppies are learning manners and socialization behaviors from their parents.These 3 weeks are when the puppies become the most work and that is why a bad breeder will let them go: Less work + More money = Bad breeder. The longer your breeder is willing to hold on to a puppy, the more they are committed to ensuring you are getting a well behaved, easier to train puppy.
How much time should I spend on training?
All you need is 15 minutes a day to train your new puppy! 15 minutes! That's it? Yes, when you work a little bit each day on teaching your puppy something new it is much more rewarding and interesting to your puppy. Spending more than that can cause your puppy to be bored very quickly with what you are teaching, they do not have the longest attention spans! Start with your basic commands: Sit, down, stay, shake a paw and come. Be sure to only work on one command a day until they get it before you start asking them to do more than one in a training session. Once your puppy gets older you can start to teach more fun tricks like bow, spin, speak and beg. By 16 weeks you can have a puppy as good as the puppy in the video below. Her name is Cinder, she is my friend's Miniature Australian Shepherd. The best behaved, well trained dogs have the best, committed owners.
What is positive reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to get the results you are looking for with training your new puppy. Positive reinforcement can be given 3 different ways:
- 'GOOD DOG!'
- 'GOOD (Command)'
- Scratch on the chest
- Pat on the head
- Play time