The Retrieve with Bags and Shadow: Five Do’s While Training a Young Puppy
By: Michael Baggetta
As you start to develop a bond with your young puppy, it is very important throughout the training process to remember that there will be do’s and don’ts you are going to do. What I want to focus on in this article is the positive side of training and discuss the Five Do’s. Just like with any relationship, the foundation is trust. These Five Do’s will help you gain the trust you will need from your young dog to be successful during the training process.
- Stay Consistent– Early on in your dog’s training, it is important to have an plan in place and establish a routine so your young puppy understands the difference between play time and time to go to work. You will be surprised with how smart your young puppy is and with a consistent routine they will start to pick up on work time. After a few weeks with Shadow and her training routine,she realized as soon as she saw me put a whistle on it was work time. After reaching that point, I was able to vary up when we were able to train. Along with creating a routine, it is important to stay consistent with the use of commands, what your dog is allowed to do around the house early on or where they are allowed to go.
- Positive and Exaggerated Responses– Every time your young puppy does what you want them to do give them a very positive reaction so they know they did good! As dogs get older one of their biggest motivations is to make you happy. If they see you are happy with them they are going to want to continue to mimic that behavior. Early on be exaggerated with your reactions. You want them to feel all warm and fuzzy. I know this may seem corny, but it will make the world of a difference (Don’t be a drill sergeant; we’ll talk about this in the Don’ts). There will be a time for you to be stone faced and extra stern.
- Be able to adapt– It is important to understand with young puppies their attention span is short so training session may not go as planned. If this is the case no need toget frustrated, you need to make sure you always get something positive out of the training session. Let your puppy be a puppy and make it fun for them. As the trainer, you need to be able to be patient and adapt to the situation. As you start to develop a routine, it is important to change the environment of the training. We all don’t have farms or perfect environments for training. Your young puppy needs to learn how to adapt- from parks to any open field. You want to expose them to as many situations as possible; this will help harness their attention. When Shadow was young we did most of her training on the campus of the university I worked at. This training environment allowed her to block out all the foot traffic and the million smells she may have smelt to try and focus on her training. When we were done with all the training she was able to get loved on by all the people, which also helped with socialization.
- Make Training Fun! You are always training– Think back to when you were a kid starting in sports or any of the hobbies you loved early on, if it felt like work to you, you were more than likely going to be turned off by it. As I said in the introduction, you want your young puppy to fall in love with what they are doing. If you create a fun environment for the young puppy they are going to fall in love with it and want to do it more often. Once your dog embraces this, training will become that much easier. Now your dog is getting excited when you put that whistle on or whatever may be that trigger for your young puppy. Shadow gets so excited when she sees the whistle go around my neck and she knows we are about to have fun! Can you say that about when you go to work? It’s because we made it fun early on. I also think it is important that you use little games around the house as opportunities to train. When Shadow was just a puppy, we would wake up in the morning and in the hallway I would treat train her. We worked on heeling and walking for five minutes and she would eat it up! Yes- pun intended.
- Teach one command at a time– As we go through training with our young dogs it is important that we only teach one command at a time and build off that. In thenext few articles, I will go over which commands you should start with and the progression. Obedience and command training will be the foundation for all your gun dog training that’s what we are going to spend the majority of our time on with the young puppies. Once we graduate from each command, we will be able to progress in our training.
Now I understand that I only went over Five Do’s while training a young puppy, though this list could have been longer, I believe in keeping it simple and focusing on the positives. Have a plan and keep it simple because for your young dog they just want to make you happy and for you to love them. Just like with any successful team it is matter of figuring out how to motivate each other and communicate effectively. Over time, you will be developing your own special language between you and your dog!
Until next time – Keep the retrieve alive!