Learning New Tricks
Teaching Your Goldendoodle Puppy Basic Commands
One of the best parts about raising a puppy is discovering their ability to understand and respond to verbal commands. From showing off to just having fun, teaching your puppy commands is an experience that pays off forever. Dogs have been known to learn some pretty neat tricks and can even be helpful around the house when they grow up and find themselves in a bigger family role. By the time you pick up your Goldendoodle puppy from ABCs Puppy Z's, they'll be 8 weeks old and more than ready to start learning some basic commands.
Even though your puppy's attention span is limited during this stage of their life, it's never a better time to imprint some basic commands on their permanent memory. Command training early on also serves to develop healthy habits such as obedience and communication, which leads to good behavior. When training your puppy, you will be teaching it how to respond to your verbal commands through positive reinforcement and a method called food-lure training.
Puppy training should always be a fun and gentle experience and you should never use any type of punishment to train your dog. Keep each training lesson short while spreading out a few 5-minute lessons throughout the day. The more often you can train your puppy, the better. While you don't have to train your puppy every single day, it's best not to wait too long in between lessons if you really want those commands to stick.
Before You Begin
At this early stage in their lives, puppies are easily distracted by the things around them — and can lose interest in ten different things in a matter of seconds. Their adorably-limited attention spans are a joy to watch, but can present a challenge when teaching them new tricks. If you plan on getting anywhere with your pup, you'll have to pick out a quiet “puppy classroom” in the house where there are very few things or noises that can distract them. Ideally, it should be just you, your pup, and some treats.
Your puppy's reward should be whatever they love most — whether it's their favorite treat or their favorite toy. Professional trainers have found that training a pup with their favorite treats for a few minutes before mealtime works well, as the puppy will be getting hungry and is motivated to win a treat.
Training your puppy involves two rewards:
- A primary reinforcer (a treat or a toy).
- A secondary reinforcer (petting and verbal praising, i.e., “good boy!” or “good girl!”).
When training your puppy, it's important to use both reinforcers, because you won't always be able to give your dog a treat when they follow a command (and you shouldn't have to!). Your puppy will need to learn that being petted and praised for listening is also a reward. As time goes by and your puppy gets good at following commands, you can start phasing out treats and only give them sometimes, while always giving them praise for following commands. The older your dog gets, the more willing it will be to follow your commands on the simple basis of being obedient.
For your dog to learn the meaning of a word, you will need to associate an action with the word you're saying. So, with every trick, you will need to show your puppy what the word means, for example, when saying sit, your puppy should be sitting. So, without further ado, let's get started!
Teaching a Puppy to Sit
With a treat in hand and a quiet place to practice, you're now ready to teach your Goldendoodle puppy to sit!
Remember, the first goal of puppy training is to teach them what the command actually means. Once they learn, you'll be able to practice until they comply without hesitation. There are two methods to teach your puppy to sit, and you should practice them both until they get the meaning. The methods are:
- The Capture Method: This training method implies that you're “capturing” the sitting action while giving them praise. For example, you'll stand in front of your pup with a treat in hand, and wait for the pup to sit. As soon as they sit on their own, give them a treat and some praise. Wait for your puppy to stand up again, and when they sit, reward them and praise them again. After several repetitions, say the word “sit” the moment they start to sit. This way, you're “capturing” the action and associating sitting with the word “sit”. After successfully “capturing” their sitting action several times, try saying sit before they sit, and see if they sit!
- The Lure Method: This method will let you “lure” your puppy into a sitting position. When your puppy is standing on all fours, get in front of them and hold the treat in front of their nose. Then, slowly move the treat above their head. As you do, your puppy should try to sit down to get a better look at the treat. As soon as they're sitting, let them eat the treat and give them praise. After repeating this several times, begin saying sit when your puppy sits, followed by a treat and some happy praise. Once your puppy knows to sit to get the treat and begins to associate the word with the action, you can try saying “sit” before placing the treat above their head.
Teaching a Puppy to Come
You probably won't have a lot of trouble getting your puppy's attention, and you might even be able to teach them this command naturally when you want them to come. But the goal of training your puppy to come also has to do with getting them to respond to their name or a specific word, like “come”.
- Begin by taking your puppy to a quiet place like a big room in the house. Say their name or the word “come” (whichever you prefer, but remember that if they learn to come when they hear their name, they'll always come when they hear their name!) and reward your puppy with a treat and praise when they do. Then, toss a treat away from you, and when they finish the treat, say their name (or come). As soon as they look at you, reward them with a treat.
- Try not to say their name (or the come command) over and over when they're not responding. Instead, move closer and try again. When your puppy responds and is eating their treat, start changing positions. Then say your puppy's name and drop a treat next to you when they look at you. Your puppy will respond and come running for the treat, and when they do, give them lots of pets and happy praise. Then move away and try again, increasing the distance between you and your pup the better they get.
- After a while, you can try practicing at greater distances, such as while outdoors. When playing with your puppy outside, you should always be in a safe and enclosed location (such as a gated backyard) or have your puppy on a leash. When training your puppy to come while in a park or other location, you can put your puppy on a long leash.
- Keep in mind that dogs learn respond to commands through praise, so when you call your dog, you should never punish them afterwards (even if they're up to trouble). That's because your dog may associate coming to you with punishment, which will confuse them and can make them ignore you.
Teaching a Puppy to Stay
The stay command will include the cue word, “stay”, and a release word, such as “up”, “ok”, “move”, or whatever you prefer. For the stay command to work, your puppy will need to learn the meaning of both the cue word and the release word, but knowing the “sit” command is also a big plus (this really helps them learn to stay!).
- Begin by teaching your puppy the release command. First, wait till your puppy is sitting or standing, then, drop a treat on the floor and say the release command when they go for the treat. After several repetitions, back away and say the release command as they start to move toward you and THEN drop a treat. After a while, your puppy will begin to associate moving around with the release command.
- Once your puppy gets the hang of the release command, the “sit” command comes into play. Tell your puppy to sit, and give them a treat when they do it. Now, wait a little bit while your puppy is sitting (without saying anything), and give them another treat. Then, say the release command, and when they get up, give them a treat.
- Now, try waiting longer before you say the release command (10-20 seconds), and see if your puppy can stay still for that long. If they get up on their own, just reduce the amount of time you wait before trying the release command again. When you're able to get your puppy to sit still for a while, say “stay” and take a step or two backwards. If your puppy gets up, try again. If they stay sitting, give them a treat, followed by the release command.
- Slowly start increasing the distance between you and your pup while they are sitting. Try turning around and walking away a few steps before facing your dog again. Pace yourself while training your puppy the stay command — even a few steps is a big achievement! Keep your training short, rewarding and frequent for best results.
Teaching a Puppy to Lie Down
Having fun yet? Don't worry, it gets easier! The lie down command is taught in much the same way as the sit command — by using the “capture” technique. By now, your puppy should have a good idea of what the release command means, which you'll be using to teach them how to lie down. If your puppy doesn't respond to the release command yet but you've got your mind set on teaching them how to lie down, you can always make them get up using a lure technique (a sniff of the treat should do the trick!).
- As with all other training methods, take your puppy to a quiet place where you can get (and hold!) their attention. Wait for your puppy to lie down and give them a treat. Then, say the release command and give them a treat when they get up.
- Wait for your puppy to lie down again, and as they are about to do it, say the “down” command to “capture” the action. Repeat this process for a while, and then try saying the “down” command when they are sitting or standing to make them lie down.
- To speed things up, you can try luring your pup down into a lying position with a treat. As your puppy lies down, say the “down” command and give them the treat with lots of happy praises.
What a Good Pup!
As far as basic commands go, that's pretty much it! There's nothing cooler than a little pup that knows how to sit, come, stay and lie down. Through your commitment and regular practice, your puppy will get the hang of it before you know it. And by training early, you'll be opening the door to more advanced obedience training that will come in handy as your puppy grows into an adult dog.
For dog owners, there's nothing more rewarding than having an obedient and trustworthy companion at their side. Everyone loves a good dog, from your family and friends to your neighbors and people out in public. So, train early and keep it up — sooner or later, your efforts will always pay off! Feel free to Get In Touch with us any time for more tips on basic puppy commands or with any questions on puppy and dog training.