Keeping the puppy focused on you at all times. As mentioned, smell is their first used sense. Allow the puppy to smell a treat in your hand and ONLY give the puppy a treat when they have earned it. Over treating your puppy will cause them to lose interest in the reward, so be sparing. Always keep a treat pouch with you to be able to treat when positive behaviour is shown.
Tip #2 Repetition
Repetitive, short successful training sessions twice daily is enough for a puppy. Being consistent and treating only when appropriate will allow your puppy to understand a pattern (they will understand what needs to be done to be rewarded). Saying the exact same training words for basic commands is also important. Do not suddenly change the command “down” to “on your belly” as it will confuse the puppy. You can gradually expand your vocabulary as the dogs get a little older, but for now, just be consistent.
Tip #3 Lead Training
Start your lead training in a low distraction environment. Indoors at home is the best place to start. Keep your puppy focused and looking at you at all times (reward this behaviour). Start off by walking away from your puppy with a loose grip on the lead. Call your puppy’s name and reward each time they approach. Do not reward the puppy if they do not approach on the first call, as this will only teach your dog to ignore your call. Figure 8 walking is also fantastic for keeping them focused as well as practising for turning movements. Use treats to lure your dog into a figure 8. Reward once the puppy has sat down after the figure 8. Reward your puppy each time they look at you or keeps a loose “J” shape lead. Use the smell of treats to regain their attention if they start to wander in a different direction. Remember, be repetitive and keep them focused. You can slowly begin to transition to more distracting locations, ONLY when they have more or less perfected indoor lead walking. Typically once a puppy is outdoors their attention spans are very short, and can become anxious in new surroundings. If the puppy is not tolerating outdoors or is not giving you any attention, take a step back and continue indoors.
Tip #5 Exercise and Play
High energy puppies are the hardest to maintain focus. A long walk or big play session prior to training is a great way to calm their excitement and in turn, help them to engage in the training session easier. Play can also be a great alternative to treat rewards. Play sessions when a puppy does the right thing can be used as high-value currency.