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Dog obedience training starts even before you get your puppy in your home. Instead, it starts originally with the person that you purchased the dog from. Ask the breeder or salesperson what type of training, if anything at all, was provided before your dog came into your care.
Puppies until the age of 21 days are like infants; they are only able to find Mom, eat, sleep and go to the bathroom. Anything else is pretty much beyond their abilities at this time. That fourth week, however, is crucial to any dog obedience training because this is when your animal becomes more aware of his surroundings. Any positive or negative experiences that occur during this time will affect your puppy for life, so make sure that any stimuli is in the right direction.
At the four week mark, puppies can be introduced to crate training while still at the breeder's. A wire cage, well padded and large enough for the entire litter, is placed in the whelping box at this stage. Newspaper is placed all around the floor space, so that the dogs can get used to sleeping in the crate and eliminating on the paper.
Dog obedience training at this stage of the game is gentle and supportive, and there is no punishment. Breeders and owners should take this time to play with their puppies, and get them in a group to slowly learn the "Come" command, by quietly saying the word, and praising heavily when they do respond appropriately.
Remember that timing and consistency are key when beginning dog obedience training with your young pups. The trainer should be planning, on a daily basis, when and how to work on these essential skills, and then perform them at basically the same time every day. Also, positive reinforcement is necessary immediately during or after the pups have followed the given commands, or else there is a danger of the animals associating the praise with something else other than the intended action.
Give your dogs time to think about their actions before you react to them; especially at this young age, where there are a lot of distractions (like other puppies for instance, or a grumbly tummy), they may need a bit of time to respond to a command they are learning. Be patient. However, keep in mind that young dogs such as these are not able to take more than about 10 minutes of training at a time, before they lose attention. This is not only appropriate for their young age, it's essential to their continued learning. Dog obedience training shouldn't be boring for your animal - it should be fun!
Once you've worked through the more basic commands, make sure when introducing more complex concepts (such as Stay or Sit) that you break down the skill into small, bite-sized chunks. Start with teaching the dog how to sit properly, before you ask him to respond to the command, for instance. Many web sites have detailed progression training techniques for all of the dog obedience training commands, so feel free to search around for some ideas along this vein.
(c) 2005 dog-training-info.com. This article may be republished as long as these bylines are included. Kevin Simmons is the webmaster of http://www.dog-training-info.com. Please visit the site for more free dog training articles. Online URL for this article: http://www.dog-training-info.com/dog-obedience-training.htm
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