Training a puppy is not as simple as you might think. Unlike larger dogs, puppies do not always know the basics of how they are supposed to act around people and need to be taught a lot more about the way that they are supposed to live in a home. Usually, this also means that there are a lot more steps you have to take before they are “ready.”
Thankfully, there are some ways to make it easier for yourself, both directly and indirectly.
One of the more important things for training a dog is to be consistent. Unlike a human being, your dog will not be able to understand the nuance of things that we have known all our lives. If they are not allowed on the couch or in a certain room, be sure that nobody breaks that rule out of sympathy.
The more mixed messages you give, the harder it becomes for a dog to know what you are actually trying to tell them. If you only punish them for a certain thing sometimes, they will see your actions as random and maybe even come to fear you for it.
In families where multiple people are in charge of the dog, keep these rules clear and obvious. If one person lets your dog get away with something that nobody else does, you are just reinforcing the idea that they need to be sneaky and do it behind your back.
Use Clear Positive Encouragement
Dogs do not know what you are thinking, and you have to tell them or show them that they did something right. If they perform a trick, make it clear that you think they did a good job, do not just laugh or smile, and then go back to what you were doing. They need clear, visible reinforcement during puppy training.
While it can be tempting to turn to negative reinforcement like scolding, you do not always need to once you start praising them enough. You want to reach a point where the absence of praise replaces punishments like hitting them or shouting at them. That way, your dog knows that you are not pleased with what they did but are not going to cower away in fear.
Choose the Right Environment
Puppies are playful creatures, and they get interested in things very easily. You need to make sure that you are training your dog in an area where they can focus and actually pay attention to you, even if that means doing it indoors. You would not want to take an exam in an amusement park, just like your puppy does not want to be trained in an area full of stimuli.
Once they understand the basics, then you can try and repeat it in a more crowded or distraction-filled environment to test if they can pay attention. This will require a lot of patience, but it can reinforce what you have taught them and make it easier for them to follow your commands if you are ever in a similar location.
Work With Their Attention Span
Some puppies have a very low attention span, and that can remain even as they get older. This means that you will have to work around the problem of them only retaining their focus for so long, which can make it harder to spend ten or fifteen minutes on one single trick.
Do not be afraid to switch it up and have little runs or play sessions between each puppy training attempt. It can restore their focus, burn off some pent-up energy, and is generally worth doing if you want to make sure that they are ready by the time you start training them again.
Respect Their Mood
Sometimes, a puppy just is not feeling up to it. Do not force your dog to train when they are tired, sick, or just having an off day. You might be able to teach them, but it also places a lot more strain on their focus and can make their mood even worse.
For puppies, especially, doing this could even lead to physical harm if they are still developing. Play games or let them relax, and do not force them to learn when they are out of their element.
If you are still not sure how to train your puppy, online puppy training materials like those available at this link are a good place to start. They can form a solid backbone for the development of your dog’s skills and behaviors.