Certain breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, have reputations as being easier to train than others, such as some hounds and sled dogs. Dogs that have been bred to perform one task to the exclusion of all others (such as the Bloodhound or Husky), or that have been bred to work independently from their handler (such as terriers), may be particularly challenging with obedience training.
As part of your puppy’s training, then, you should do everything you can to ensure that your puppy can’t get into trouble in the first place. That way you can avoid giving your puppy lots of ‘negative’ attention which might inadvertently encourage his bad behaviour. For example, if you use a crate, or confine your puppy to one room of the house, he is far less likely to get into trouble chewing something he shouldn’t, or peeing somewhere he shouldn’t.
With your dog sitting at your side, set off and give the command “heel” (so that your dog is aware you are about to move). If the dog gets ahead, stop and encourage it back to your side with a titbit. Repeat. To begin with, stop every three to four paces to praise your dog and give a titbit. Do not use your voice unless your dog is at your side. You can also practise this off-lead in a secure area – this makes you work really hard at keeping your dog with you, rather than relying on the lead.
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Like small children, puppies have short attention spans and get tired quickly. Keep your puppy training sessions short – 5 to 10 minutes is enough – but regular. Two or three short training sessions every day is ideal. And, remember, you can build in the ‘come’ command throughout the day; for example, when you want to feed your puppy or play with him.
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Seeking professional help doesn't mean ditching your DIY training program. You can find a professional dog trainer who offers private training sessions, and some trainers even offer online sessions. Many dog owners prefer to join a local dog obedience class so they will be under the supervision of a dog training instructor without the higher cost of private sessions. Plus, classes challenge your dog to learn around the distractions of other dogs.
Training clubs that run the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme - the largest dog training programme in the UK are a sensible place to begin. Here you will learn about every aspect of dog ownership from the Puppy Foundation Courses through to Bronze, Silver and Gold award levels. Go to GCDS Training Clubs in your County to find one near to you or email the GCDS Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 0207 518 1011.