Puppies who are nearing or just passing a year old are the perfect age to teach that sitting is way better than jumping, and listening to commands is something all good puppies do. There's no better way to mold your youngster than giving him what he loves: treats and fun.
Burn those massive energy reserves that seem to be built into each puppy. Walks, running in the backyard, tossing a ball and anything else that makes him tired will make him less likely to misbehave during training. Teaching the "come" command to a puppy whose been on his daily walk is a lot easier than trying to corral a pup whose looking to run around the house and tear chew toys in half. But do give your little guy a break after exercise: a worn-out puppy can throw quite the fuss when all he wants to do is sleep.
Train with the motto, "less is more." Puppies are crazy little fur balls who have way better things to do than listen to some human make weird noises and hand signals. Once your little guy starts losing interest in training, walking off or has a tough time following what you're teaching him, give him a break. Puppies who aren't paying you any attention aren't learning anything.
Make training fun. Puppies are looking for a fun time all the time, so boring training isn't up their alley. Instead of telling your puppy to "come" with a monotone voice and no body movement, get into it. Crouch down, clap and say "come" enthusiastically. Puppies get excited about the smallest things, so you don't have to do much to make your little guy's tail wag and him think, "Wow, this lady knows how to have fun!"
Bring on the treats. Puppies, especially those stubborn ones, have a way of making training more difficult than it should be. Provide treats as a way to get your dog's attention and as a reward when he does reacts positively to a command. Tell him what a good boy he is and throw in a few belly rubs and head pats too. Anytime you reward him for doing something, you're encouraging him to repeat the behavior, which is why positive reinforcement is so effective.
Say one unique word for each command; don't mix and match. If you say, "down" when you want your puppy to lay down and when you want him to jump off people or furniture, he's going to think you're some kind of crazy person, and he won't know what you want him to do. Instead, say "off" when you want him to take his paws off people and "lay" or "down" when you want him to lay down.
Counter-condition your pup right away. At 1 year of age, your puppy is old enough that he may have a fear or two, and he may react extremely negatively in the face of those fears. Instead of letting him tremble and act nervous when it's time to get his nails clipped, show him that nail trimmings lead to something wonderful -- that's the basis for counter conditioning. Give him a treat just for looking at the nail clipper, then a treat when he sniffs it. Slowly showing him that there's nothing to be afraid of will result in a more confident canine.
Train with consistency in mind. If you teach your little guy that springing for the cat is a big no-no, but you let him do it when the cat is in trouble, you're giving him mixed signals. Same thing with getting his furry butt ready for a walk: if you only tell him to sit sometimes, he's not going to learn that he's supposed to plop his hind end on the ground and wait patiently when you grab his leash.
- Some dogs, and especially young puppies, get too excited if you offer too much praise, so mileage varies on belly rubs, clapping and so forth. If excessive praise doesn't work for your puppy, tone down the excitement a little.
- Some puppies take longer to learn than others.
- Be careful not to reward your little guy for bad behavior. If you tell him to "sit" and give him a treat for hovering slightly over the ground, you're telling him it's OK to not sit completely down.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.