The name of the game, when it comes to training puppies or dogs, is reinforcement; reinforcement of behaviors that you want. The opposite of reinforcement (reward if you will) is not punishment, it is no reward.
Simply stated, you reward behaviors you want while you ignore behaviors that you do not appreciate. If you do this, you will not encourage problem behaviors that you subsequently have to deal with. Puppies need to know the limits of acceptable behavior from the earliest possible time.
It is too late to wait until a pup is 6 or 8 months old and then start training. Training should begin at the get go, at home, under your benign supervision and should be consistent between family members. There is nothing confusing about this strategy but, for some reason, it is one that many find difficult to grasp or, at least, to stick to. For puppies that grow up to have problems related to destructive chewing, biting, nipping, jumping, and excessive barking, the main mistakes that owners have made, with respect to training, are too little too late. That, and using the wrong approach. It’s time to reverse this tide of misunderstanding and to start creating well-behaved and well-mannered dogs. And it’s perfectly possible for anybody who wishes to try.
Communicating With a Puppy
One thing you have to remember in any dealings with puppies, especially very young ones in the two to four-month window of age, is that they are very impressionable.
In the first few months of their lives you can set them up for success or failure based on your interactions with them and your ability to guard them against psychological trauma. If you care for them when they need care, have reasonable expectations for them, set limits of acceptable behavior, and protect them from adversity, all should be well.
Raising puppies properly is an active process that requires you to understand how they might interpret your behavior toward them, including how you address them and how you handle them. If we largely ignore them, rarely speak to them, and hardly ever pet or touch them, they may grow up to be overly needy or withdrawn. On the other hand, if we burble at pups constantly, and pinch and prod them as if they were produce in a grocery store, that too can have negative consequences. Pups so treated become desensitized to human speech and averse to handling, and this can lead to problems down the road.
It is far better to meter speech and handle the pup in a way that it appreciates, so that it comes to enjoy human company, understands our utterances, and appreciates petting and physical contact.
Resources for Raising a Healthy Puppy
Want more useful advice on how to raise a healthy and happy puppy? Check out our featured articles:
- Raising a Normal Healthy Puppy
- What Not to Do with Your New Puppy
- How to Prevent Common Puppy Behavior Problems
- How to Talk To and Handle My New Puppy