Preventive training means preventing undesirable behavior from occurring, rather than punishing your dog after the infraction. The best way to prevent problems is by monitoring your puppy at all times, except when he is in his crate. If your puppy doesn't get a chance to develop bad habits, training is quicker and easier; there are no bad behaviors to undo.
Dogs are social animals with an instinct to follow a hierarchy. Preventive training establishes you as the "pack leader" when you encourage or discourage behavior. Spending so much time with your puppy and paying close attention to him also strengthens the bond between you.
Keep these hints in mind when trying preventive training with your puppy:
House-training is a defining moment in your relationship with your dog. Since elimination is a way to mark territory, teaching your dog where to eliminate confirms that you are the one in control.
There are three types of house-training. Which you choose depends on your living situation. You can outdoor-train, paper-train-then-outdoor train, or litter-train (small dogs only).
It is easier to train a puppy to eliminate outdoors without the detour of paper-training. However, some apartment dwellers or others in special circumstances may not be able to get outside as often as necessary for outdoor-training a young puppy. In this event, paper-training can be an important intermediate step to full house-training. Litter-training is a viable option for someone with a small dog who has limited access to the outdoors. Look in pet supply stores for dog litter systems for dogs less than 35 pounds.
Whatever type of house-training is right for you and your dog, you will need patience, persistence, and a good training plan. Stick with it. Your puppy wants to please you; as soon as she understands what you want from her, she will try to do it.
Here are the most important elements of successfully training your dog to eliminate outdoors:
If you need to take the interim step of paper-training your puppy, follow these easy guidelines. Keep in mind that the less opportunity a puppy is given to eliminate indoors, the quicker he will be trained to eliminate outdoors.
Dogs in the wild are den animals. Those instincts are in your puppy, so giving him a crate is like giving him his own personal den. A crate provides a secure, comfy retreat from the household hubbub and a safe place to stay while you are away from home. Puppies are reluctant to soil their den, so being confined in a crate is a great way to prevent training accidents.
You can also have a bed for your dog in another room, such as in your bedroom or a child's.
During your puppy's first six months she will be most inclined to look to you for guidance. Training turns your dog into a reliable companion. As the American Kennel Club's Dog Care and Training guidebook (Hungry Minds, 1991) explains, "Training gives you an animal you can trust. It establishes a channel of communication between you and your dog that significantly enhances your mutual respect and friendship."
Dogs are practical creatures and look to achieve optimal results with minimal discomfort. Training teaches your dog that meeting your demands results in praise and attention while disobedience leads to a correction. Dogs will invariably choose the behavior that brings praise and affection. Remember too that dogs are pack animals, and need a leader. If you don't establish yourself as the leader, your dog won't see the importance of paying attention to your commands.
Every dog needs to know basic commands like come, sit, and heel. You don't need to attend obedience classes to teach your dog the basics, but classes do make it easier, especially if you're uncertain about what to do. The American Kennel Club Complete Dog Book (Hungry Minds, 1997) says that "the key words in training are persistence, confidence and consistency." In other words, you must be confident in your ability as a trainer (and as "pack leader") and your responses -- whether praise or correction -- to your dog's behavior must be consistent and constant.
Check out these helpful hints for basic puppy training:
Create a lasting, loving bond with your dog and help her achieve her true potential as a companion animal by socializing your puppy. As you handle and talk to your dog, she is learning how to behave with you. When you take your puppy out and she has contact with other people and other dogs, she will also rely on you to guide her conduct.
Your reactions shape your puppy's reactions. If, when he becomes frightened by a loud noise, you cheerfully reassure him and focus his attention elsewhere, then he is less likely to develop an extreme reaction to loud noises. Too much fuss over a frightening experience may even make a dog phobic.
These suggestions will help you teach your puppy how to approach and interact with the world around him.