Congratulations on your puppy and kudos to you for getting started early with training your puppy easy tricks. You have made a choice that will serve you for the life of your pet - the more training you do with your dog, the faster he will learn and the more he will look forward to your training time together.
Mental stimulation is important for a balanced dog. In addition to enjoying a more tuckered out puppy at the end of the day, you will find that regular training sessions will improve her focus on you - after all, she never knows when you might pull out that bag of treats for a fun game that she always seems to be winning!
This guide offers three easy tricks to train your puppy: ‘Stay’, ‘Spin’ and ‘Shake’. Once you have learned how to teach these tricks, you will have gained some training skills that will allow you to move on to more advanced behaviors and tricks. Enjoy the journey!
In this guide, we will use the term “mark/reward” to indicate when you should give an audible signal to let your dog know she is on the right track, followed by a small food reward. If you are using a clicker to train your dog, this is when you will click then reward. If you aren’t, just decide on a unique sound or word that you will only use for training. For example, say “Yesssss!” in a special tone, followed by a reward.
For your food rewards, you can use a combination of your puppy’s regular rations of dry kibble, but mix in some special food such as cooked chicken or bits of hot dog to keep their attention. You only need a pea size tidbit for a reward.
You will use food rewards to train your puppy easy tricks, but after they learn them you will then fade the food rewards over time. You can do this by selecting only the best examples of the behavior you ask for, chaining several different tricks together before rewarding, and switching to other rewards such as praise or giving your puppy a favorite toy.
Before you get started, be sure you are following some basic guidelines to keep your training sessions fun and effective. Here are some pro tips:
Make time for several short sessions throughout the day and keep each session between 5-10 minutes. If you go too much longer, your puppy will get bored and frustrated and come to view training sessions as work rather than play.
Think of training as a game and your goal is to help your dog “win” rewards as often as possible. This will keep her engaged and excited to learn.
Start teaching any new behavior in a familiar environment where there are not distractions like other pets or people. After he knows the behavior you can take it to new places to continue to strengthen the behavior and improve his focus.
Learning a new behavior in a training session is never the time for punishment. That will only make your puppy dread training with you. Instead, focus on rewarding success and ignoring failure. Only after your puppy has fully learned a new behavior should you add a direct consequence for failure.