Bark All About It!
During the first few months puppy is in your home, it’s easy to get into problem-solving mode (as discussed in the previous articles of the Get Puppy S.M.A.R.T. series and forget about actually training puppy. Most training at this stage is focused on prevention so that normal-but-annoying puppy behaviors don’t become habits. For example, we know it’s important to manage the excitement when we interact with puppy so he doesn’t jump, but what can we have him do instead?
“Sit” is a great alternative behavior to jumping. And one of the most basic obedience commands your puppy will ever learn. By distracting puppy from “bad” puppy behaviors (jumping, biting, mouthing, barking, which are usually excitement related or attention seeking) and teaching him alternative behaviors, like “sit” or “down” or “high five” we are opening up the lines of communication with our puppy. We are building the foundation for future training, and we are creating a positive working relationship.
Can puppies learn obedience commands? Absolutely! Does this mean that once learned, they should be able to comply anytime, anyplace? Nope. It’s important to keep expectations in check when working with your puppy. Like with humans, a puppy’s age and corresponding developmental stage dictate their capabilities. While puppy may have no problem giving you a nice “sit” in your kitchen, she’s not likely to do that right away when you’re, say, at the park. The new environment is too distracting. You’ll need to make sure you’ve always got some extra tasty treats, like small pieces of real meat, and work your way up on the distraction scale.
As your puppy goes through adolescence and into adulthood, she’ll be able to work up to more advanced training. In the meantime, enroll in a good puppy obedience class which not only teaches basic obedience commands, but also focuses on all the S.M.A.R.T. components.