There are tons of questions that every proud new owner of an adorable puppy asks—and every trainer has different answers. I’ve developed my own method for creating a unique and unbreakable bond between dog and dog owner, so let’s get started. First up? Skip immediate training in lieu of some good old-fashioned play time. Here’s why.
What’s the first thing I should do when I get a new puppy?
When bringing a new puppy into your home, get to know her before jumping into commands. Simply play and travel to new surroundings, as this is a great way to learn what intimidates and excites her. This can mean taking her to a downtown area where there are people, out to a park where there’s wildlife and a place to swim, or to a dog park to introduce her to other pups for socialization. This will tighten your bond, boost confidence among both parties, condition her to new surroundings, and, of course, give you a good grasp of your dog’s personality. Neglecting this step and sheltering
your dog from new surroundings can cause aggression, unwanted behaviors and fear.
What are the key things to keep in mind when starting out?
Always address your dog by her name, minimize your words, and start with what I call “come, sit, stay, release.” This means that when you ask your dog to come, don’t just make her run to your general vicinity—make her come all the way to you and sit, every single time. That way, when your dog hears the command “come,” she also associates it with “sit.” Stay consistent with this and it will become routine. If your dog doesn’t come all the way to you, never move to her—stand your ground or take a step back.
How do I make my dog stay?
There’s no need to use the stay command if you teach your dog that “sit” means “sit and stay.” Instead of saying “stay,” develop a release command for your dog. For example, if your dog finally sits for you for the first time, don’t say anything except for your release command, and say the same thing every single time after that. Personally, I say “GREAT! “ in a high-pitched tone. Over time, this will create a sense of urgency for your dog to want to sit, because if she does so, she will be released to do as she pleases right after. Once your dog is sitting on command, simply step in and say the same command, “sit,” and wait a little bit longer before you release. Before you know it, your dog will be staying for you because she’s naturally waiting for her release.
What should I do if I need to discipline my dog?
Just as there’s no one way to discipline a kid, there isn’t one simple, easy way to correct a dog. What you really want to do is play around with a bunch of different ways to discipline her. Start by simply addressing her by her name with a correction after: “Lola, OFF.” When you say “off,” shake some pennies, or use a spray bottle so she associates the word with discipline. The key is to minimize your words, so whether the behavior you’re trying to correct is digging, barking or counter-surfing, use the same word every time.
Brad Cranston is the owner of Great Off Leash Dog Training, the top-rated off-leash dog trainer in the state. He specializes in the professional use of e-collar technology to give his clients control of their dogs without a leash, regardless of distractions. Learn more at greatdogcoaching.com or on Instagram at @off_leash_dogs.