PRACTICE TRAINING AT HOME Training a puppy is done every day, and every minute of every day. Even if you don’t realize it, each interaction you have with your puppy is “teaching” him/her what is expected and what will be tolerated. For this reason, it is important that you provide solid, consistent expectations for your puppy from the moment he/she arrives home. Consistency, patience, a schedule, and positive interactions will pay off in the long run when your puppy understands exactly what is expected of him/her. The faster your new puppy understands his routine and what you expect of him, the happier he will be and the faster your bond will develop. A confused puppy, an ignored puppy, a spoiled puppy, all make for a difficult puppy. A house without rules will soon be home to an unruly puppy. It is important that everyone in your home be on the same page as far as reasonable expectations, cue words for training, and scheduling.
TRAINING COLLAR: The proper training collar should be a chain type of slip collar, commonly called a “correction collar” or “choke collar”. This collar should always be chain, not nylon, not the prong type which pokes, and should be the appropriate size. Size is determined by measuring the dog’s neck and adding two inches. The collar should only be on the puppy during training sessions. Do not leave the collar on the puppy unless under direct supervision and never while in a crate or confined area where it could become tangled and lead to strangulation. Proper use of the collar is of utmost importance for training to be beneficial. The proper technique for a “correction” while using the collar is a quick “snap and release”. NEVER apply full and steady pressure to the collar as choking can occur. The collar must be placed on the neck in the correct position in order for it to function properly. When facing the puppy and the puppy is looking at you, the collar should be held so that it is in the position of the letter “P”. Slip the collar over the puppy’s head, ensuring that there is enough room for it to slip on and off easily over the ears without force.
TRAINING LEAD: The lead or leash should be made of nylon and flat, six foot in length. The lead should be snapped to the loop of the collar that allows the collar to “slip” and tighten and loosen lead so that the collar can “snap and release”.
SIT: An authoritative voice should command the puppy using the word “Sit” followed by a short, quick, sharp, correction while simultaneously pushing down gently on the puppy’s hindquarters therefore placing him into a sitting position. When the puppy is in the correct position, you will reinforce the word “sit”.
DOWN: The puppy is put in the down position the same way as the sit above except the gentle push is exerted upon his shoulder area rather than the hindquarters. Again, the word “down” should be repeated when the puppy is placed in the correct position.
STAY: The puppy is put into a stay position only AFTER he is already in the Sit or Down position and should never be told to stay when in a standing position. Upon the completion of sit or down, a flat hand is placed in front of the puppy’s face and the word “Stay” is commanded. The handler then allows some slack in the lead and walks to the end of the lead while repeating the command “Stay” to the puppy. If the puppy tries to move or follow the handler, the puppy is given a short, immediate correction and immediately placed back in the same spot while the command is repeated.
COME: After walking to the end of the lead and repeating the command “Stay”, switch the lead from you’re right hand to your left hand and extend your arm, then pull the puppy toward you as you command the puppy to “Come”.
HEEL: The “Heel” command is accomplished by commanding the puppy to “heel” or follow the handler within close proximately to his/her LEFT leg. The puppy is given short repeated corrections as needed to stay within a foot of the handler at all times. The puppy should not lead or lag behind and should be attentive to the handler’s leg movements and terms. Zigzags and figure eights as well as stopping and starting and walking at different speeds are a good way to practice with the puppy and to keep the puppy’s attention. In addition, the puppy should stop and immediately be placed in a sit position next to the handler while in the stop position and until asked to heel again.
PRACTICE: The handler should work with the puppy daily. Each session should last no longer than 15 minutes at first. More frequent, shorter lessons per day is better than a single longer session. Lots of verbal and physical praise should be used when working with the puppy and each session should end on an “up” note. If the session isn’t going well, its better to end the session and try again at a later time rather than becoming frustrated and angry. A treat may be used for positive reinforcement at the END of each session. NEVER, EVER hit the puppy. A correction should be given while reinforcing the verbal command. Vary the routines and locations of the training sessions to stimulate the puppy and prevent boredom. Training is a time to bond with your puppy and spend quality time together while making him/her a well-rounded dog. ENJOY!