Puppy training basics

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Professional Dog Trainer Kathy Santo reviews three basic obedience training commands—sit, lie down and stay. When and how to get started and the importance of proper nutrition to the training process are also discussed.

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  • Kathy Santo

    Kathy Santo Professional Dog Trainer Kathy Santo is a columnist for the American Kennel Club’s Family Dog Magazine, and House Beautiful. Good Housekeeping has launched her as their online “Pet Expert” and in 2005 her dog training book, Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense was internationally released. more about this expert »

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Puppy training basics Professional Dog Trainer Kathy Santo reviews three basic obedience training commands—sit, lie down and stay.
  • You can start training as early as 7 weeks of age, so long as the training is presented in a fun and loving way.
  • Before giving a word command to your puppy, speak his name to get his attention. To teach him his name, speak it and reward him every time he looks. Decrease the amount of reward the better he gets.
  • Always train when your puppy is hungry, lonely, or bored.
  • Use motivation, not negative reinforcement.
  • Training sessions should be frequent and short to prevent your dog from becoming bored. 10 to 15 minute sessions two or three times a day is ideal.
“Sit”
  1. Your puppy's on a leash, and you're sitting on the ground with the leash under your legs so he can't take a field trip away from you.
  2. Hold your hand high over his head with the reward in it. Your dog will look up at the reward.
  3. Use your other hand to gently guide your dog into a sitting position. And say in a clear firm tone "sit" while still holding the reward in the air above the dog's head.
  4. When your dog sits, give him the treat and verbally praise him.
“Lie down”
  1. Have your dog sit and let him know you have the treat, but don't give it to him.
  2. Slowly lower your hand with the treat to the floor to bring your pup's nose close to the ground. When he starts to follow it say "lie down".
  3. Once he's fully on the floor, you can give him the treat. Repeat saying lie down and rewarding correct behavior.
“Stay”
  1. Have your dog sit and let him know you have the treat but don't give it to him.
  2. Go in front of your puppy, raise your open hand, and say "stay" firmly so your puppy can associate your open hand with what he's learning.
  3. Start to move away from your puppy while occasionally repeating the stay command. Start with only a few seconds of staying at a time and then move to slightly longer amounts.
  4. Always come back and reward your puppy if he follows instructions.
Transcript Hi, I'm Kathy Santo for Iams with Howdini. And today we're going to discuss basic puppy obedience and behavior training. Obedience training is one of the best things you can do for you and your puppy. So this video will focus on the three basic commands-- sit, lie down, and stay.
 
A puppy can learn a great deal, even as early as seven weeks of age, if learning is fun and presented in the form of play. To establish a positive report with your puppy and prevent many future problems, start training a few days after your puppy settles in. A relationship based on friendship and trust will ensure he tries hard to win you praise and approval.
 
Before giving a word command to your puppy, speak his name to get his attention. Then speak a one word command, such as stay, sit, come, or heel. Your puppy won't respond to commands until he knows his name.
 
Don't get impatient. The quickest way to teach your puppy's name is to award him every time he looks at you. Always train when your puppy is hungry, lonely, or bored. When all his needs are met, he won't be as motivated to do as you say. For example, training right before meals will help him associate his meal with a reward for the training and also make him more interested in the treat you use in your training session.
 
Also remember to use motivation, not negative reinforcement. Reinforce desired behaviors by offering toys, food, and praise so the puppy wants to obey. Different dogs value different rewards. Some may think a tennis ball is the best thing in the world, while another puppy may find a tennis ball meaningless but would do nearly anything for the chance to have a treat.
 
Never use physical punishment on a young puppy as you may scar him both mentally and physically. Also refrain from calling your dog to come to you for punishment, because this will teach your dog not to come on command. Dogs can feel human emotions, so stay relaxed, firm, and confident. Be sure to keep any frustration out of the tone of your voice. And if you feel yourself becoming frustrated, take a break.
 
Your dog can sense this and will start to associate training with your unhappiness.
 
Most puppies, like young children, enjoy learning but have short attention spans. Training sessions should be frequent and short to prevent your dog from becoming bored. 10 to 15 minute sessions two or three times a day is ideal.
 
The first command I'm going to show is sit. Your puppy's on a leash, and you're sitting on the ground with the leash under your legs so he can't take a field trip away from you. Hold your hand high over his head with the reward in it. Your dog will look up at the reward. Use your other hand to gently guide your dog into a sitting position. And say in a clear firm tone "sit" while still holding the reward in the air above the dog's head. When your dog sits, give him the treat and verbally praise him.
 
The second command I like to teach is lie down. Have your dog sit. Let him know you have the treat, but don't give it to him. Slowly lower your hand with the treat to the floor to bring your pup's nose close to the ground. When he starts to follow it say "lie down". Once he's fully on the floor, you can give him the treat. Repeat saying lie down and rewarding correct behavior.
 
Now for stay. Have your dog sit. Let him know you have the treat but don't give it to him. Go in front of your puppy, raise your open hand, and say "stay" firmly so your puppy can associate your open hand with what he's learning. Start to move away from your puppy while occasionally repeating the stay command. Start with only a few seconds of staying at a time and then move to slightly longer amounts. Always come back and reward your puppy if he follows instructions.
 
The last thing I'd like to talk about is nutrition and its implications on puppy training. Good nutrition leads to a healthy dog with higher quality of poop and more predictable and balanced behavior so he's easier to train. Make sure your puppy is getting the well-balanced diet he needs for optimal development. For more information on puppy nutrition, watch the video "What is the best puppy food for your puppy."
 
I'm Kathy Santo for Iams with Howdini, and I hope that you found this helpful as you welcome your new addition into your family.
 
For more information on puppy care and training, visit iams.com/puppy.

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