Because dogs are animals of behavior and not language, at W.A.G.S. 4 Kids we say “talk less and DO more.” Standing in front of your new puppy saying “sit, sit, sit” twenty times doesn’t teach much of anything. Any puppy will eventually, naturally sit and THAT is the exact moment to say the word – while partnered with the dog’s behavior – to teach what the word “sit” will mean. Do that naming of what the puppy is naturally doing.
- Just catch him in the act, exactly at the moment of sitting (“sit”) or laying down (“down”) or walking next to you (“heel”), even when not on a leash.
- Praise him when he does these things and continue to name all the best behaviors you want your dog to do.
- After a few weeks you’ll have taught him the process of learning anything you want to teach him:
The “talk less” part of training is just that. Save your language for teaching the behaviors you want, not for conversations telling your pup how you love him, asking him if he’s hungry for dinner, or telling him “no” when he’s doing something you do not want him to do. And for unwanted behaviors like jumping up or whining, the opposite of reward is not punishment, it is the lack of your attention. Turn around or perhaps walk away. That is what we mean by “positive reinforcement.” Don’t give a “name” or physical attention to something you don’t want the dog to do. Dogs figure out pretty quickly what behavior they are doing that isn’t getting them what they want.