Knowing your attitude

One of the most important aspects of training is your attitude toward your dog. During training, you want to maintain a friendly and positive attitude. For many people, maintaining this attitude can be enormously difficult because frequently they don't start to think about training until Buddy has become an uncontrollable nuisance. He's no longer cute and cuddly, he has become incredibly rambunctious, everything he does is wrong, and he certainly doesn't listen.

Don't train your dog when you're irritable or tired. You want training to be a positive experience for your dog. If you ever get frustrated during training, stop and come back to it at another time. When you're frustrated, your communications consist of "no," "bad dog," "how could you do this," and "get out and stay out." You're unhappy and Buddy is unhappy because you're unhappy.

A better approach is to train him with firm kindness so both of you can be happy. An unfriendly or hostile approach doesn't gain you your dog's cooperation and will needlessly prolong the training process. When you become frustrated or angry, the dog becomes anxious and nervous, and is unable to learn (see Chapter 9). When you feel that you're becoming a little irritable, stop training and come back to it in a better frame of mind. You want training to be a positive experience for Buddy (and you).

Training and your dog's age

From birth until maturity, your dog goes through physical and mental developmental periods. What happens during these stages can, and often does, have a lasting effect on your dog. His outlook on life will be shaped during these periods, as will his behavior.

The age at which a puppy is separated from its mother and littermates has a profound influence on his behavior as an adult. Taking a pup away from the mother too soon may have a negative effect on his ability to handle training. For example, housetraining may be more difficult under these circumstances. A pup's ability to learn is important to becoming a well-trained dog. It will also affect his dealings with people and other dogs. So what is the ideal time for your puppy to make the transition to its new home? All the behavioral studies that have been done recommend the 49th day, give or take a day or two.

These studies have also shown that dogs begin to learn at 3 weeks of age. At 7 weeks old, their brains are neurologically complete, and all the circuits are wired. Their mind is a blank page, and all you have to do is fill it with the right information. They won't forget what they learn in the next few weeks. If you wait until your dog is older, he'll probably have picked up several bad habits, which means you have to erase the page and start all over, a much more tedious job than starting when he's a puppy.

How To Train Your Puppy

How To Train Your Puppy

Getting a new puppy is a fun and interesting time. You probably went to a breeder or pet store or maybe just saw an ad on the Internet or the newspaper, for puppies, and decided just to check it out. Before you knew it those little eyes and fluffy puppy fur had your heart melting and you were headed home with him or her in your arms. If you are like most new pet owners you had visions of playing fetch with your dog, of watching him frolic at the lake, and of cuddling up on cold nights.

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