Puppy Training: Where Do I Start?
It's very interesting---someone can be so excited about bringing a puppy into their home, but the moment the puppy crosses the threshold, the excitement stops there. In its place---the fear of "will I have the only dog on the planet that can't be trained? I think that worry crosses every new pet owner's mind. So, for all those new "moms" and "dads" out there, I thought I'd write a little about puppy training: where do I start?
Let's talk about the "Big Three"---Potty Training, Socializing, and Obedience Training. Everything else falls under that! Once you have these three important items mastered, things should be smooth sailing for your new puppy.
First of all, it is very important that you begin potty training as soon as you bring your new puppy home. I recommend bells on a ribbon or rope to aid your dog in communicating with you when he needs to go out. Petland Naperville sells these beautiful bells on ribbon called Poochie Bells. The idea is that your puppy will "ring" the bells every time he needs to go out. To start, place your puppy near the chosen "out" door, and use either his snout or his front paw to hit the bells, making them ring. Continue doing that every time he goes out until he remembers to do it on his own. If you decide to litter box train your puppy, Petland Naperville sells a product called Housebreaking Aid that you spray on the litter. This spray contains pheromones that draw your puppy to its scent (and consequently the litter box), so that he "knows" where he should go potty.
The second Big Three that you must start on immediately is socializing your puppy. Unless you want your dog to be wary of strangers and/or children, you need to provide times when your dog can get to know more people than just his owner. This also applies to socializing with children. Kids are more active and unpredictable. You want to make sure that your dog will roll with the punches if a child pulls his tail, "hits" him instead of petting him gently, and in general, plays a little more roughly than you might want the child to do. You want to make sure that your puppy does not grow up to be a spoiled dog that only likes you!
Finally, you need to begin obedience training. This follows along the lines of socializing, only it covers more than just behaving around people. In this instance, I'm talking about behaving when no one is watching. There are many great places where you can sign up for dog obedience training, and I highly recommend that. Basically, both you AND your dog need to learn some new tricks. You need to learn signals (sit, stay, come), and your puppy needs to learn to show some restraint. After all you don't want your grown (=large) dog to pull things off the counter and every table in sight, jump on your furniture, or even worse, jump on your guests. You can also learn leash training tips (so that your dog doesn't walk you!), and you can also train your dog to stay within an electric fence, which is less expensive than putting up a wooden fence!
There is something that is very important about each of these Big Three: Consistency. Unless you CONSISTENTLY work with your puppy, you will not be successful. What you train your puppy is what you will get out of your dog---a larger, well-mannered adult dog and companion or an ill-behaved, obnoxious, too-large-for-its-poor-manners adult dog. It's your choice.