Puppies typically come pre-wired for affection, and many gladly learn to sit or stay for a tasty treat or praise from their people. Like humans, though, dogs are individuals with unique personalities. Even breeds well known for their lovable natures and extreme obedience skills, such as the golden retriever, have a few rebels in the family -- free thinkers who believe they know better than you about where and when to sit. Still, there are steps you can take to earn the best from your puppy, regardless of his personality.
Tip # - Prove you're reliable by feeding him on time, taking him out when he needs a potty break and following a predictable work and home schedule. If you feed him at 4 p.m. one day and 8 p.m. the next or spend little time at home most days, he won't trust you to meet his basic needs.
Tip # - Earn his trust by using your hands for petting, praise and redirection -- not punishment. Calling your puppy to you and then spanking him for a mistake, such as using your best shoes as a chew toy, confuses and frightens him. Like an infant who hasn't learned the language yet, he has no idea what you're angry about, even if you pick up the shoe and show it to him.
Tip # - Establish yourself as a calm leader. Yelling at him or stomping around in a huff when he misbehaves may help relieve your frustration, but it will do little to build his trust in you. He'll focus on the lesson rather than on finding a place to cower while you rant if you correct and redirect him firmly but gently, such as saying “ouch” and stopping play time if he nips you.
Tip # - Build on his natural puppy affection by playing with him frequently. Even young puppies will chase a rolled tennis ball across the living room or sniff out a treat hidden in plain sight. Engaging in petting fests whenever possible reinforces his desire for human interaction. Ask trusted family members, friends and neighbors to give him lots of positive attention as well. Monitor small children so that neither Rover nor the kids get too rough.
Tip # - Start obedience training as soon as you bring your puppy home. He's ready for the basics at 8 to 10 weeks, but limit the sessions to about five minutes and keep it fun. To introduce him to the sit command, for instance, grab some treats and get down on the floor with him. Watch him closely. When you see he's about to sit during the normal course of play, say “sit” and give him a treat when his rear touches the floor.
Tip # - Mix socialization with obedience by enrolling him in a puppy obedience class. He'll learn how to listen even when he's around large groups of dogs and people while you get some valuable lessons on how to train your puppy. And the extra time with you will likely increase his trust and affection for his favorite human.
By Sandra King
About the Author
A medical writer since 1990 and successful home-based business owner for more than 14 years, Sandra King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She uses her formal education, professional insight and extensive volunteer involvement to cover topics on health and fitness, pets, parenting for a lifetime, building healthy relationships, conquering business basics and developing career goals.