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What Sort of Training Works Best For Puppies?

Bringing any kind of dog into your life will inevitably be exciting, especially if it is a puppy. The first weeks and months a dog is with you for are some of the most formative in its life, especially if they are younger. Proper training during this time is key and requires proper thought and planning.

In our experience, training which is delivered little but often in a consistently long-term manner works best for puppies. Puppies have a short attention span and while organised with the best of intentions, long training sessions can be of limited use to them. Instead, it is much better to build good habits such as obedience and waiting for an owner’s cues during daily activities such as feeding times and when moving through doorways. The “sit” command is natural and easy to teach, and is easily reinforced if a puppy is required to sit whenever it wants to play with a ball, receive affection, or be given food. Mentally, this is also often easier for owners as it requires less effort than planning and delivering longer sessions on a regular basis.

The best training for puppies should also be fun. Dogs work better when motivated, and although applying positive punishments can achieve results these are sub-optimal. It is preferable to establish which resources your puppy views as having particularly high value. Be it food or a favourite toy, they should then have to work to access it. This also improves the owner-dog bonding process.

Dogs learn associatively rather intellectually. To a puppy, a command is nothing more than an arbitrary sound. Inherently, words such as “sit” or “heel” have no particular meaning. Rather, the word becomes associated with a positive consequence if a specific desired action is performed. Repetition is key to build and proof these associations. Although it may be boring for you, understand that the best training for any puppy or adult dog is simply a matter of repetition until the target association has been formed.</p>

It is also good practice to “proof” training behaviours outside of the home environment. While puppies may be obedient and listen to commands in sterile environments without distractions, this is often not the case in environments such as the street or parks. We would recommend testing training in distraction-rich settings once they have been proved at home as the ultimate test of how successful you have been.

Protection Dogs Worldwide runs a number of training programmes for dogs of all ages. For more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to us via phone, email, or any of our social media feeds.

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