3 Simple but Effective Puppy Training Tips
Here are some simple puppy training tips from a Los Angeles dog trainer that you can add to your daily routine to ensure your puppy grows up to be well-behaved and responsive to your requests.
Puppies are learning all the time, whether you are aware of it or not, so developing positive associations with a few commonly-used cues early on can really make a huge difference in how quickly you are able to train your pup.
You can begin acting as the chief puppy trainer as soon as you bring your pup home and can be as simple as taking a few minutes at mealtimes to create positive associations with your pup’s name, a slap to your thigh, and a pointed finger.
Once you’ve achieved this, you can build upon those positive associations to get more and more desirable behaviors from your puppy like coming when called, sending them to their bed, or going into their crate on cue.
All you need to get started is a mixture of high-value treats (freeze-dried meat treats, real meat leftovers or string cheese will do) mixed together with some lower-value treats (your puppy’s kibble that has been moistened in water).
1. Train Your Puppy to Recognize Their Name & Accept A Grab Of The Collar
This is easy. Simply say your puppy’s name, grab their collar, and then feed them a treat. Repeat 5x in a row.
Next, say your puppy’s name and wait for them to look at you, and then grab their collar and feed them a high-value treat. Repeat 5x.
Lastly, take one step away from your puppy, call their name, and then wait for them to come to you. When they do, grab their collar and give them a treat.
This is not only the best way to teach your puppy their name, it also conditions them to get used to a hand reaching towards them when you need to get a hold of your puppy like when you need to leash them up.
This simple puppy training exercise can save you a whole lot of headaches down the road when you want to leash your puppy up! Instead of playing “catch me if you can,” they will accept your collar grab and willingly let you put them back on the leash.
2. Train Your Puppy to Respond To A Slap To Your Thigh
We often unconsciously slap our thighs in order to get our puppies attention or when we want them to come to us. Why not help your puppy to understand what this means from the get-go?
Simply follow the same steps as above but start by slapping your thigh, and then feeding your puppy a treat immediately afterward. Repeat 5x.
Next, slap your thigh, and then wait for your puppy to look at you before offering them a treat. Repeat 5x.
Once this comes naturally and easily for your puppy, add in a cue like “here” or “come” as you slap your thigh, and repeat 5x.
Lastly, take a step away from your puppy, slap your thigh as you say the cue, and then feed them a treat when they come to you. Easy!
3. Train Your Puppy To Gravitate Towards A Pointed Finger
Getting your puppy to recognize there is something of interest to them when you point your finger can go a long way towards training your puppy to do a variety of things.
Simply drop a treat on the ground in plain view of your puppy and point to it. Wait for them to notice and eat the treat, and then take a step away from your puppy. Drop another treat on the ground and point to it, and then wait for your puppy to come to you again and eat the treat. Repeat 5-10x.
Once your puppy is immediately going to wherever you point, point to their bed. Wait for them to climb on their bed, and then give them a treat. Repeat 5x.
If your puppy has learned to go to their bed when you point at it without hesitation, try moving it around to see if your puppy will target the bed in a new location like inside their crate or a confinement area.
Once this comes naturally and easily for your puppy, add in a cue like “bed” or “go to your crate” as you point to where you want them to go, and repeat 5x.
Eventually, you can test whether or not your puppy has learned the cue by saying it without pointing, and see what happens. If they go to their bed or inside their crate, they are showing you understand the cue!
Remember, always lavish treats and praise on your puppy when they are successful at learning something new! Positive reinforcement is the fastest, most effective way to let your puppy know when they've done something right and will also help you to quickly build a lasting, trusting bond with them.
Los Angeles dog trainer Alexandra Bassett is the owner and lead trainer at Dog Savvy Los Angeles, a dog training company that specializes in positive dog training and solving problem dog behavior like dog separation anxiety, leash reactivity, and dog aggression. She is certified as Knowledge Assessed by the Council of Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA) and is available for online dog training sessions via Skype.