Who doesn’t love puppies? Puppy eyes? Extra puppy skin? Puppy kisses? Puppy breath? Puppy behavior…?? While at times, it’s downright hilarious, oftentimes a puppy’s behavior can be extremely frustrating. Between chewing on everything and having accidents in the house, puppy behavior is predictably less than ideal, no matter how cute that little puppy dog face may be.
The way we react to certain puppy behaviors early on can be extremely influential down the road. For example, it may be very funny that the little puppy barks at the big cat; however, if we just watch this behavior and laugh, it’s likely to manifest as a life long obsession with barking at cats. The same can be said for jumping/pawing for attention. When a 2-month-old lab turns into an 80lb lap dog, it may not be as cute as you once thought!!
The best advice I can give to anyone looking to train their puppy is to keep it simple: teach them how to sit and then ask the pup to sit for EVERYTHING!
Before your dog eats, make him sit. Before he goes outside, make him sit. Before he comes back inside, make him sit. Before he jumps in the car, make him sit. And especially before you let him jump in your lap, make him sit! (not recommended for puppies expected to grow bigger than 50lbs). Basically, whenever you see that your puppy wants something, (food, attention, doorways, etc) make sure he sits before getting it. This sends a clear message that YOU are the key to getting what he wants and all he needs to do is sit. Keep it simple. Better to know one command VERY well than ten commands that he only does when he feels like it!
Set your puppy up for success by teaching the “sit” command only when you have his undivided attention and when you have something he really wants. Say the command once and immediately reward him verbally and with a treat when he sits.
Once your puppy knows the command, it’s important not to repeat yourself when asking him to sit. Say it once and then stare into his soul until his bottom hits the floor. If you keep repeating yourself, you’re telling him it’s ok to ignore the first time you asked. If staring into his soul doesn’t work, either he doesn’t truly know the command yet or you asked him before you had his undivided attention. If you’re going to repeat yourself, do so while applying light pressure over his low back to force him to sit.
You can start teaching this one simple command as soon as 6 weeks old. With repetition, your puppy will learn to anticipate the command and sit before you even ask! This is exactly what you want because instead of barking, pawing, or simply taking what he wants, it means he understands that sitting gets him the things he wants in life: food, car rides, and attention (plus whatever else you deem “sit-worthy”)!