03. When and How Should I Start?

posted Aug 24, 2011, 10:37 AM by Alder Brittanys   [ updated Mar 7, 2012, 8:31 AM ]
Whether you knew it or not, you started training your puppy from the moment you picked her up from the breeder.  That puppy is hardwired from day one to learn about you.  This training can be positive or negative depending on how you choose to act around your puppy.  A puppy starved for attention may learn that chewing on a shoe will get her the attention she seeks.  On the other hand, this is the perfect time to get your puppy started down the road of earning rewards for good behavior and learning that there are boundaries to what she's allowed to do.  A few tips:
  • Be consistent. 
    • Jumping up can't be "cute" one day, then punished the next.
    • All family members need to be on board with what behaviors are expected of the puppy.
  • Be positive
    • A young puppy needs lots of love and positive attention.  Don't expect your young puppy to know everything your last dog learned.  Remember, it probably took your last dog many years to learn to behave the way you wanted him to. 
    • A good rule of thumb is to make sure you're rewarding good behavior at least nine times for every time you tell the puppy "no."
  • Take your time
    • Keep your training session short.  Telling your dog to "whoa" once five times a day is more effective than a long training session once a week. 
  • Don't repeat yourself
    • We humans have a tendancy to repeat ourselves until we're heard.  This is an awful way to traing a dog.  Never repeat a command your dogs knows more than once.  Repeating a command teaches your dog that he doesn't have to respond the first time.  If he doesn't respond to a command he knows, enforce the command.  Reating a command is counterproductive to good training.  (see what I did there?)
  • Teach your pointing dog to wait
    • Puppies are very impulsive and are in a constant state of motion.  Teaching a puppy delayed gratification will go a long way towards helping them become an effective pointing dog.  I teach my dogs at a very young age to "whoa" for their meals and "wait" to go out of a door until I release them.  This means my dogs have to wait for my command multiple times a day every day of their life.
    • To teach your puppy to "whoa" for a meal, do the following:
      • Week 1 - Put your puppy's food down in front of her.  Hold her a foot away from her food while giving your "whoa" command.  As soons as she stops struggling, give your "release" command and let her eat.  This teaches her to submit to your hold.
      • Week 2 - By now your puppy should stop struggling almost immediately after you put your hands on her.  Once this is achieved, hold her still a second or two longer before giving your release command.  Increase by a second a day.
      • Week 3 - Start loosening your hold.  Keep your hands close!  If she moves her feet before you give your "release" command, tell her "no" and put her back where she started.
      • Week 4 - You should be able to step away from your puppy without her moving.  Gradually increase the time you ask her to wait until she's standing a full minute before eating.  This technique will save you a lot of training birds when it comes time to breaking your dog to wing and shot. 
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