It is rewarding to have a well-trained dog for a companion. Dog experts reiterate that it is more sensible and easier to train dogs when they are puppies, as they are very responsive at that age. Training older dogs requires teaching experience, a considerable time investment and a lot of patience. The skills, tricks, and behaviors that puppies learn will serve them well over the course of their lives. They will learn to fit well in a home and assimilate into society. Coupled with this, is the fact that the process of training a puppy will improve the understanding between you and your pet. You will learn its temperament, quirks and it will learn your mannerisms and preferences. This will empower you to deal with your dog confidently, in the different situations, you will face together later on. More importantly is the strong bond that will be fostered. The time invested in training will be translated to a lifetime of positive, rewarding interaction.
Training a puppy, in essence, teaches it to understand your language and opens the channel of communication. What are the most important things to teach a puppy? Some lessons occur without much ceremony through repetitive actions. These are:
- Name: What you call your puppy repeatedly.
- Feeding spot: Where its feeding and drinking dishes are located.
- Sleeping area: Where its bed is placed.
- Routine: Your puppy becomes aware of the habits of occupants in the home.
Other lessons will be taught more formally outside of play time. Following, are the basic minimum commands a puppy should learn. They form the basis of your dog’s vocabulary to learn further instructions or skills:
- Sit: This command is the easiest to teach and learn as it calls for an action that a dog performs voluntarily throughout the day. Teaching your puppy this, simply equates the action with the word.
- Stay: This command ensures that your dog will remain in its position no matter what you are doing or where you are going. It will prove useful in many daily experiences.
- Okay/Yes: This command releases your dog to do whatever it wants or continue whatever it was doing.
- No: This is an important lesson for both your dog and you. It informs your dog that whatever action it is performing is unwanted. It can prevent trouble and has the potential to save your dog’s life.
- Whistle or come: This tells your dog to come to you, irrespective of where it was going or what it was doing.
- Down: This tells the dog to crouch down on his belly and be alert. This pose is the foundation to learn many advanced tricks.
These fundamental commands should be reinforced ever so often to keep your puppy sharp. For your dog to interact well with other dogs or people, socialization skills should be taught. These skills ensure that your pet is not overwhelmed or unnecessarily frightened when exposed to different places, sights, sounds, and experiences that it will encounter often. These are:
- Social skills: These will teach your dog to behave properly in the presence of strange people and other pets regardless of age and breed.
- Handling: This will ensure that your dog understands that human touch can be necessary. Your dog will know to behave properly when handled by you or others. This training will come in handy with a dog-handler, during grooming and at a visit to the veterinarian, preventing the need for muzzling or sedation.
- Walking on a leash/ follow the leader: Teaches your dog to walk beside you while attached to a loose leash. When dogs do well on walks, walking becomes a pleasurable activity that is sure to be repeated.
The following skills are useful for your dog living indoors, to possess. They encourage a serene atmosphere in a home environment.
- Quiet/ Hush: This teaches your dog not to bark anymore once this command has been given and is useful in situations that can cause your dog to bark uncontrollably.
- House training: This teaches the dog not to urinate or defecate in the house but to use an agreed upon demarcated area. Experts suggest getting your dog accustomed to different surfaces for this.
- Gentleness: This teaches your dog to desist from playing roughly with others. It is especially useful in homes with babies and small children.
- Crate training: This teaches the dog about confinement and that sometimes it will be separated from its owner. This is invaluable for air travel.
- Home alone: This will prevent separation anxiety as your dog loves to spend time in your company.
- House rules: This teaches your dog what is acceptable in the home and not. It includes teaching your dog what areas of the house are hazardous, e.g., the kitchen during food preparation and what actions are undesirable, e.g., chewing on furniture, eating table scraps, shredding toilet paper, etc.
- Car rides: It is inevitable that your dog will be transported in a vehicle from time to time. Training a dog for car rides ensures that it is a pleasurable experience for all.
You can teach your dog many tricks, easy and advanced, that will enrich your relationship and open you up to a world of experiences. You can call upon your dog when it appears bored to perform these tricks to keep busy. You can also use these tricks to show your dog off. Some of these tricks are:
- Roll over
- Play dead
- High-five and shake hands
- Leap over sticks and jump through hoops
- Bark on command
- Take a bow
Tricks aside, you can teach your dog to handle a few chores/responsibilities in the home. Examples of these are fetching the newspaper, bringing slippers, bringing its own leash, putting toys away and finding things. This contributes to a lovely, lively relationship between you and your dog. A well-trained dog is a loved and contented dog.