3 Advanced Puppy Training Tactics
We all love the idea of having a well-trained dog who hangs on our every word – and now your puppy has become a teenager and has all the basics under their belt, you can start to work towards this with some well-done teenage dog training. There are plenty of opportunities open to you to progress your dog’s obedience, from advanced puppy training classes to fun sports like agility (although your pup may still be too immature to jump). But in reality, there are only three things that will help transform the life you have with your dog and turn them into the attentive and happy dog of your dreams.
The majority of behaviour and training problems people have with their dogs – especially adolescent dogs – can be prevented or helped if the dog is getting enough appropriate physical and mental exercise. Focusing your teenage dog training on these three areas will help during your dog’s teenage months and will set you up for a happy and healthy life together.
1. Focus your puppy’s attention
Dogs can really only focus on one thing at a time, and if that one thing is you, you are in a great place to be able to keep them focused. You can distract them from things they shouldn’t be doing and encourage them to do the things you want them to. Having a dog who will give you their attention when you ask means they are ready to listen to you, and this is the first step in every other part of your advanced puppy training. There’s no point asking your dog anything if his mind is elsewhere!
Teach your pup to look at you when you say his name. This is something you should have been doing since puppyhood, but this is a good time to have a refresh. Have treats in your pocket while you’re in the house or garden. At various times when your dog isn’t expecting it, say their name brightly and enthusiastically. If they look at you, drop a treat on the ground between you, so the dog moves towards you to get the treat. You are teaching the puppy that their name means “give me your attention and good things happen”. Start doing this when there are no distractions and build it up until you can do it everywhere, no matter what is going on. Positive association like this is an important step in teenage dog training.
Only use your dog’s name for good things – do not use it for things that they don’t like as you want to build up purely positive associations.
The other way to be your dog’s focus is to pay as much attention to them as you want them to pay to you! This means interact on your walks – be fun to spend time with, take toys, play games, reward your pup frequently with treats, change speed, direction and be unpredictable. In other words, don’t be boring! Being successful with advanced puppy training is all about building a great relationship with your pup.
2. Learn to walk on a lead
There is no joy in walking a dog who drags you around all the time, and many owners don’t exercise their dog enough because it’s become a chore – especially with an enthusiastic teenage puppy. Luckily, putting some effort into teenage dog training and teaching your puppy to walk on a lead can help put this right.
If your dog has got into the habit of pulling, go right back to basics, and dial back advanced puppy training to its simplest form. Start by doing short distances only using a treat or a toy to keep your dog beside you and reward them frequently. If your dog gets ahead of you, stop and encourage them back to you with your voice, a toy or a treat and then continue. Practice this often – especially at times when you don’t need to go anywhere! Practice is key to advanced dog training – just like with humans, repetition will help your pup learn! Do this every single time you walk your dog, so they learn that if they want to get anywhere, the fastest way is if they stay beside you.
If your dog is becoming too strong for you however, consider using an anti-pull harness to give you more control. Do not be tempted to use any equipment that would cause your dog pain or discomfort.
3. Use puppy recall training
Recall is the most important thing you can teach your dog. A dog with a good recall can get far more freedom and exercise – and even more importantly, you can keep them safe. Recall is an imperative thing to learn in any teenage dog training program.
As part of the advanced puppy training focus exercise above, you probably have already taught your dog to look at you when you call their name, and this is the perfect start to having a reliable recall. As you are dropping a treat as a reward, they may already be moving towards you when they hear their name – but now you can drop it at your feet and also add in your recall word to link that to the action of them coming towards you.
Reward your puppy with a treat or a game when they get to you and always look pleased to see them! Practice this everywhere – in the house, garden, and eventually out and about, but on a long training lead to start with. Remember that practice is key to advanced dog training. Very soon your pup will remember what the recall word means and link it to coming back to you every time.
When you’re sure they will come to you when you say the cue word, you can start practicing it off lead. Start slow in the house, then in the garden, then adding distractions – until your dog is reliably coming to you. Now you are ready for the great outdoors!
Once in the real world, start slowly in a quiet enclosed place with no distractions. Do a few on-lead recalls first to get your puppy’s brain in gear. The first time you let them off the lead, have a handful of treats that you either give them or drop on the ground so they don’t whizz off! Don’t let your dog wander too far from you, and call them back frequently for games and rewards. Coming back to you should always be a good thing. Keep your pup focused on you with games – and always reward good recalls with a treat.
Work like this, and put real time effort and patience into your teenage dog training, and your adolescent dog will soon be coming back to you like an obedience champion!
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