With that in mind here's a few things to focus on when you begin obedience training.
1- Establish yourself as leader
- Always let your dog see you giving them their food and don't let them have free access to constant food. Leader controls food in dog language.
- Have them earn their bowl of food by the dog sitting and waiting for a brief moment.
- Leader is not established based on aggression. So you can be gentle with your dog and still get great results.
- Leader always goes through the door first.
- On walks you need to lead the way. They can be next to you, but they shouldn't be pulling. You set the course and the pace.
- Don't get below your dog's level. Don't lay on the carpet when they are around and don't let them be over you in playing with them.
2- Don't be harsh
- Dog language is very dependent on body language and tone of voice. You don't need your hand to say it. Don't strike your dog and especially not a puppy. This could dramatically affect the bond you have.
- Use positive reinforcement. There are several excellent training resources to refer to in learning these techniques.
- When potty training, never yell at your dog or rub their nose in the accident. It has negative consequences.
- A simple verbal correction is all that is needed to inhibit many, if not all, undesired behaviors. We use the words "Eh, Eh". It's not a normal english word that the dogs will hear from us in casual conversation so they know this command is very specific to them.
3- Learn the positive training techniques
- Figure out what motivates your dog. Sometimes it could be a treat, sometimes it's a verbal praise, sometimes its a belly scratch, sometimes it's a toy.
- We use a clicker. Puppy won't understand a positive word from a negative word for a while. The clicker helps them understand a positive behavior faster.
4- Top things to train first
- Potty training. The bulk of this can be done in a couple weeks, but it will take longer to really get it down.
- Recall: This breed will want to go go go. Make sure you start a Recall behavior early on. One mistake to avoid is scolding your dog when they do finally come back. Even if they didn't come back the first 19 times you called them, don't scold them when they come back or it will create a negative association with Recall.
- Leave it or Drop it (when they get something in their mouth you don't want them to chew on)
- Heel: Leader should be in control of direction and pace.
- "Mouthing" or outright biting. We do a loud, high pitched "yelp" like a puppy and stop any interaction. We actually say "yelp." That's puppy language for stop it. That's what their siblings do. That's what has worked for us.
5- Before you begin
- Excercise your dog before you begin a training session. This helps them to be calmer when you are training.
- Make sure they are hungry too. This will help set you up for success before you have even started.
- Have your treats ready. Don't lose their attention span while you are figuring out what to do and what to treat them with.
- Don't train for more than 2 minutes for puppies and no more than 10 minutes at a time for older dogs. They will learn better and your patience will thank you in the end. You can do several sessions spread out during the day to help the learning happen more quickly.
- Sit down and write a list of 1 word dog commands that everyone will use. Don't confuse the dog with each person having their own variety of commands for the same behavior.