Puppy Training: Better Taught Alone, Online or At Class?

Puppy training!  I LOVE puppy training.  Puppies are such
young, pliable loving balls of joy.

To be honest, I just moved and I have a little bit of
“puppy-itis” and yes, I am certain that Webster’s dictionary
should add this to their dictionary.  It means that every time you
see a puppy or smell puppy breath you have a desire to have your
own furry bundle.

It seems everyone at my veterinary clinic has gotten a puppy
lately, and those who haven’t acquired or rescued a puppy seems
to be thinking about getting one.

And, I haven’t had a young puppy in almost 8.5 years.  I
watch old videos of her when she was just a year and a half and it
melts my heart to see her learning and building the foundation to
her obedience.  My male dog was given to me at 6 months or 9
months (I’m getting too old to remember ha ha) and he just turned
7!

Anyway, I have a huge case of “puppy-itis”.  I almost
fostered a Doberman Pinscher puppy (7 months) last week.

But I believe that I have very different ideas about puppy
training.

After all, 25 years of experience and literally hundreds of dogs
and puppies in my house over that quarter decade have taught me a
lot of things.  First off, please don’t think I am a hoarder I
have worked with several assistance dog programs and fostered many
dogs in my time.  Thankfully it has taught me a lot about puppy
training, dog training and just general success with dog
obedience.

And, I think my interpretation of what I like is very
different.

Let me explain!

Online Classes

Let’s just admit it, not everyone is a dog trainer or a good
dog trainer.   For more on that click
here https://thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/dog-trainer-hour-owners-beware/

Not everyone knows how to teach their dogs or pups impulse
control and respect and these are just the basics of being a canine
good citizen.  These things should begin the moment your puppy
crosses the threshold to his new home.

But dogs aren’t people, they aren’t really even close to
being like people when it comes to their thinking.

If a dog thinks he can snatch your freshly made sandwich before
you can get to it; he has won.  He doesn’t understand that there
is anything wrong with this behavior.  In the wild, this is what
would keep this dog alive and well sustained.

I might also mention that puppies don’t come home
understanding that going “potty” in the house is wrong, much
less BAD.  He pees and poops when he needs to; this is how he was
raised his first 6-8 weeks.  Babies don’t pop out of the womb
using the toilet or never making mistakes either.

But somehow the barrier between species gets lost and it is up
to us humans and dog owners to learn how to communicate effectively
when our new puppy comes home.

There is a fine line between losing your temper when your puppy
has an accident or steals an item once and allowing him to continue
these behaviors for months.  I personally like as little
correction as possible.

So, rewarding good behavior is crucial in teaching puppies.

I Recommend Online Puppy Classes and Impulse Control Classes First

I teach puppy kindergarten classes, so don’t misunderstand
me.  I love my puppy classes!!!  But my puppy classes won’t
delve into your potty training issues, nipping or impulse control
too far.  Of course we discuss it and I ask for problems people
are experiencing each week.  But, I don’t live with you or spend
an hour with you; I have to split my time with all my clients
issues.

For the most part puppy classes are for socialization (more on
this in a bit).

First off, I don’t want you to wait for 4 to 6 weeks to get
into a class before you begin training your puppy in puppy
kindergarten classes.

puppy training positive reinforcement

I want you to learn to reward good behaviors.

I want you to reward your puppy when he sits.

I want you to reward your puppy when he lies down.

I want you to reward your puppy when he is just chilling with
his toys in his toy box (yes, get him a toy box).  Chewing is his
toys is what you want him to chew right?

We spend SOOOOO much time telling our puppies what they do that
is wrong.  Get down, stop chasing the cat, drop it, leave it!!!! 
NO, NO BAD DOG!!!

But how often do we reward the puppy for things that are good or
a better way to say this; for things we “expect”.  We may
expect him to lay down and chew his toys, but how does he know you
like that if you are not praising and rewarding?

Please remember this is a different species with different
rules.  Although he wants to please you, he doesn’t really know
how unless you tell him!  Imagine going to a different country and
they slap you or add pain when you do something wrong.  You may
quickly learn what brings the pain… but will you learn what these
people want if they never praise or reward you?  In essence you
would live in a world of the unknown and fear of correction.

Personally I like keeping my puppies on leash when they are in
the house, it helps with housebreaking and it forces you to train
your puppy.  If you ever sign up to raise a guide dog puppy they
will force you to do this and within a few hours, days, weeks you
will see why.  A dog on a leash won’t be allowed to show the
naughty behaviors that a dog with total freedom has and this helps
to condition him and form good behaviors instead of constant wars
of compliance.

I will tell you, having your puppy on a leash is a pain in the
a*% but it is certainly crucial in their development.  It also
keeps them from eating and swallowing what is inappropriate.  At
my veterinary clinic alone we have seen or referred about 8
obstruction surgeries from dogs that are chewing or eating things
that they shouldn’t.  I guarantee if your dog is on leash and he
grabs your $30 underwear you aren’t going to let him chew up and
eat them!!!!

Leashes are also great for house training.  When my puppy is on
leash with me and we are watching a movie, him with his toys, me
with my wine… I notice when he begins to do the “potty dance”
and it keeps him from wandering off and having accidents.  He is
still going to make mistakes but they are certainly going to be
less!  Once he has the idea I can teach him to
ring a bell
and tell me he has to go outside.

Online dog training allows you the ability to understand more
about where your dog is coming from and focus on the mundane until
you are ready to move on to more advanced obedience.

I use “mundane” a little tongue in cheek because this kind
of training is the most important.

Dogs who nip, dogs who have potty training problems, and dogs
with impulse control issues end up on death row at the shelter. 
It is never the dog that doesn’t “sit” fast enough or have a
pretty “flip finish”.

That doesn’t mean you should take this phase too long, set up
homework for yourself and train at least 5 times per day but work
at home where there are no distractions.  This is the best
environment for your dog to learn.

online dog training

People have often thought they needed to take their dog
“out” for training; this is just another myth.  We learn best
when distractions are lessened and where we are comfortable.  We
don’t take our children to the zoo and expect them to learn!! 
We put them in a quiet classroom where distractions are little to
none and it is easiest to learn.

Puppy kindergarten class is like asking your child to learn at
the zoo or Chuck E Cheese… this kind of environment is not
conducive to learning.  YOU might learn some basic things but it
is likely to leave you frustrated because it is not advantageous to
the dogs’ learning.

Train Alone

The next phase of training, once I have gotten my feet wet, is
training alone.

I have already learned from my online classes.

I have taught impulse control and the basics, and I have a dog I
am pretty darn happy with at home!  After all, we spend most of
our time at home anyway!

Now it is time to add distractions!

lazy puppy training

At first I actually recommend training on concrete or in a
parking lot.  Parking lots hold less smells that can add to your
dog’s distraction and your frustration.

A raccoon that just ran through your back yard is much more
odoriferous than the same coon that scooted across your church
parking lot.

This allows me to keep my rewards and jackpots plentiful as we
train, and it also helps to set him up for success.  I, for
instance, would never choose to take my herding dog to a field of
sheep and expect him to keep up with his basic and advanced
obedience.

I want to add distractions slowly. YES, he will make mistakes
but if you set him up for success both of you will be less
frustrated.  I also take time of day into account.  I am not
going to train at 530 pm on Wednesday when everyone is off work and
at the church.  I am going to choose 1 pm on a Tuesday as a better
time for success.

Work HARD!  This doesn’t just come down to a month or two or
work; this takes time.  Eventually you should be able to walk
through Walmart parking lot (on leash of course) and have his focus
on you as well as impeccable obedience.  Honestly I used to train
inside and outside the dog park, so aim for big things!

Classes

Dog obedience training classes definitely have their place in
your training regiment!  For help finding a good one click here.

puppy socialization

Can I admit, even I take obedience class? I never tell the
trainer that I too am a trainer, although I suspect it is fairly
noticeable, but I do it strictly for the socialization and proofing
my obedience.

My dog is not obedient if he/she cannot listen around other
dogs.

The best way to have a semi-controlled environment of dogs is in
an dog obedience class.

I would mention, not all obedience trainers are created equal,
go to a class where you agree with what is going on with the dogs
in the class.  Also get comfortable refusing to do things that you
think aren’t going to be good for your dog.

One of my dogs is not over fond of dogs.  So after our initial
dog obedience and advanced dog obedience I enrolled him in a
class.  If you aren’t familiar with me and my training I am an
advocate of eye contact and focus; so when stressed he looks at
me.  He doesn’t snarl or lunge or show negative behaviors but
sometimes the trainer would ask me to work or socialize too close
and I would refuse.  I know my dog, I know what I trust with my
dog and I ultimately am in control of him and his behavior.

It is much better to refuse to do a behavior and look like a
conceited difficult individual than it is to have an incident where
someone needs sutures and my dog is deemed dangerous.  Ironically
now we can literally touch other dogs when getting ready to dock
dive, but it wasn’t worth the risk at the time.  Trust your
instincts, only you know your dog!

Actually you will learn a lot about how to handle and how not to
handle other dogs.  Your dog will be totally well trained and
proofed while other dogs are whining and barking and pulling and
this teaches you and confirms that classes are not the place to
learn.  Your dog is excelling because you gave him the skills he
needed prior to the class.

Puppy Socialization

I do like good puppy socialization classes.  Most of the time
you can’t achieve the kind of obedience I describe in a dog under
6 months old.

So a little class and puppy play time can be a good thing… and
a bad thing.

Be cautious again with your trainer.  Some dog trainers will
let all the dogs chase one dog or play too hard.  Make sure your
trainer knows what they are doing.  It is better to avoid
socialization class at all than it is to allow puppies to
traumatize one another.

The only myth was that puppies under 6 months wouldn’t hurt
each other, and while that is partly true they can traumatize each
other mentally and that can last a lifetime.

Again, if you aren’t comfortable grab your puppy and exit,
better safe than sorry.

This is a soul that you are going to have as part of your life
for the next 10-15 years, so make sure you set him up early for a
lifetime of success and being a good canine citizen everywhere he
goes.

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Puppy Training: Better Taught Alone, Online or At Class?

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Source: FS – TheDogTrainingSecret
Puppy Training: Better Taught Alone, Online or At Class?