When you first bring your new pup home, of course, you want to settle him into his new surroundings. Puppies begin to learn from the moment they are born and although their attention spans are very short, they do understand simple commands. Certainly, from around 7 to 8 weeks old you can begin training for toilet duties, how to sit and stay as well.
Training your puppy in a positive manner
Above all, any training sessions should be both enjoyable and fulfilling for your puppy. Positive reinforcement methods of training tend to have the best outcomes. Not only does the puppy get a treat or reward, but there is no negative response at all. Just because your puppy doesn’t complete the task to your satisfaction, there is no reprimand. As a result, your puppy will always be willing to try the task again and also forms a new bond between you. Once your puppy has mastered the basic commands such as “sit” and “stay”, you can move onto further skills.
Any tricks you teach your puppy should be fun for both of you. Never ask your puppy to do a task that is either dangerous or humiliating. Likewise, to avoid any damage to your pup’s rapidly growing joints and bones, don’t ask them to jump until they are older than 18 months.
Keep training practice lessons short
Daily training routines lead to successful tricks. Above all, keep training sessions brief. Even more important is to keep your puppy stimulated so that he regards everything as a game. Change his routines around to vary things and spend no longer than 5 minutes each session learning each new command. Likewise, do your training commands in various locations – in the kitchen, garden and even when out walking.
Consequently, your puppy will soon respond to your affection, training and of course praise and rewards. Once your puppy has mastered the basic obedience commands, you can move onto these tricks to teach a puppy.
No 1. Rollover
Have a reward treat in your hand and hold this in front of your pup’s nose. The next step is to move your hand in order to make your puppy rotate his head. Now continue slowly to move your hand downwards until your pooch begins to turn over onto his side. When he reaches this position, praise him and give him a treat. As his confidence increases, he can progress to a full rollover onto his back. Even more important is to make sure he has a soft landing.
No 2. Wave
Take a treat and hold it in your fingers. Move your hand down quite low. Once your pup realises you have the treat he will attempt to get it with his paw. The moment he lifts his paw, drop the treat and tell him he’s a good boy. Over several lessons, he will soon begin to touch your hand with his paw. After a few successful efforts, bring your hand up higher. Add in your command cue “wave” and he will soon get the hang of this trick, of course with a treat each time.
No 3. Balancing a treat on his nose
This trick to teach a puppy will certainly leave your friends amazed. To begin the training, have your dog in the sitting position. Gently touch your puppy on his nose and praise him when he tolerates this. Now pick up a small treat and hold it in your closed hand. Without allowing your puppy to grab at or eat the treat, hold it close to his nose. Say “leave it” to impress that he isn’t to wolf it down straight away.
The next step is to have the dog allow you to place the treat on his nose and to leave it there a while. Let the pup know that he’s doing great. Finally, put the snack on your dog’s nose and command him to “leave it”. Wait just a couple of seconds and say “OK” which is telling your pup to go ahead and gobble up the treat. Of course, it might take a few sessions before your pup gets the hang of this one.
No 4. Teach your puppy to give you a kiss
It’s not everyone’s choice to have a sloppy puppy kiss but this is a fairly easy trick to teach a puppy. Place a small dot of peanut butter onto the side of your face. When you speak the “kiss” command your puppy will understand that this is the go-ahead to lick off the tasty treat. It seems like he is kissing you!
No 5. Go to bed instruction
Use this “go to bed” command to instruct your puppy where he should sleep. First of all, lay out a blanket on the floor. Now you lie on it and tell your puppy to do likewise, saying “go to bed”. Because he loves nothing better than curling up with his master, he will be quite happy to do this. Eventually, of course, he will do this without you and flop down on his bed when you request.
No 6. Teach your pup how to speak
You’re certainly not going to be able to teach your pet to speak in the conventional sense. However, a bark to your command is the same thing in doggy language. Decide on a trigger that makes your puppy bark then reinforce this action. Because he associates this positive reward with his barking, he will soon learn to speak when you ask him to.
It's good fun watching your puppy entertain people with his skills. However, remember that if you decide on these tricks to teach your puppy that the learning process isn’t all about structure and hard work.
Your puppy should enjoy the lessons, especially as his aim is to please his owner. Even more importantly, you don’t need to teach him all of these tricks and stunts. You decide which he can pick up more easily.