Teaching your puppy the basics is essential for a well behaved adult dog. If you are attending Puppy Pre-School classes you may already be working on some basic training exercises with your pup. If not, you can get a head start at home by following the exercises outlined below. We suggest introducing each exercise one week at a time (or in some cases longer) and to conduct daily sessions for a maximum of 15 minutes a day to give your puppy the best chance of success.
Name Game – Gaining your puppy’s attention
The aim of the name game is to have your puppy respond as soon as he/she hears their name called. During this exercise use one name only, leaving out any abbreviations or nicknames. For example if your puppy’s name is “Jessie”, refrain from using ‘Jess’, ‘Jessica’ or ‘puppy’.
Firstly, say your pup’s name and as soon as he/she looks at you, reward him/her with praise and a treat. If your puppy does not respond the first time, make some other noise to get his/her attention, however do not repeat his/her name. This is important because your puppy will only learn to respond after hearing his/her name repeated multiple times. The aim is first time!
As your puppy becomes more confident and skilled introduce distractions into the game, such as noises or toys.
Hold a treat just over your dog’s nose and move your hand slightly back over his/her head. You are aiming for him to drop his rear-end onto the ground. As soon as his/her bottom touches the ground, provide a treat reward. Once your puppy is sitting every time he/she is lured, you can introduce the word “sit” and just reward with pats and praise, phasing out the food treats.
Do not push your pup into position as this will only reinforce your action, rather than his/hers.
With your pup on his/her lead, ask your puppy to sit. Once in position ask him/her to “Stay” and then take one small step backwards away from puppy (you can use the lead to restrain puppy by holding the lead with the clip at the back of pups head and keep a gentle upwards pressure on the lead). Immediately step back to puppy and reward him.
Points to remember:
- Keep the stay time short – take a step away and then return immediately to puppy. Your puppy has a very short attention span, it’s very important to set up exercises for success rather than to challenge them at this early age.
- At this stage, always return to the pup before releasing him/her. If you walk away then call pup to you, your puppy will start to anticipate your call and will start to follow you instead of staying. Recall from stay is a more advanced exercise which should be taught at a later stage.
In the following weeks you can expand on the stay command, but at this early stage, please resist the temptation to expand on this exercise.