Prioritize your training goals

Often it can seem overwhelming when working with a new dog. Whether you have a sweet 7-week old puppy or an older dog that you adopted from the shelter, each dog has his or her issues that need to be addressed.

My private clients sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the training possibilities at any given moment. Their puppy might be jumping, biting, pulling on the leash, barking or grabbing anything and everything on walks as if outside were one big puppy buffet.

A big part of my job is to help clients prioritize their training so it doesn’t get so overwhelming. Here are some tips for you:

  1. If your puppy is 4 months or younger, your main priority should be socialization and housetraining. This includes getting him comfortable with the crate, noises, events, people, and the movement in your everyday life.
  2. If you are working on socialization and your puppy starts pulling, put training “on the back burner” and work on socialization. I want my clients to pick their battles. Socialization is time-sensitive, so if you work on perfect leash walking all the time, you will inevitably miss opportunities to socialize as the dog or person walks away from you while you are working on “red light, green light” leash exercises. Socialization should take priority over training.
  3. Even up to a year old or older, you should still focus on socialization. Even though the true socialization period is over, you can still work on getting your dog comfortable with his surroundings.
  4. On walks, if your dog starts biting or jumping, stop what you are doing and work on that. If you want to go to the park 3 blocks away and your puppy is biting and jumping the whole way there, you should focus on those things to work on them while they are happening. You might not get all the way to the park, but you will also lessen the chances that these behaviors will happen forever.
  5. While you are socializing your puppy and he is playing with other dogs, do quick training tasks such as a “Let’s go” or “Leave it” and then allow your puppy to continue playing. You should be working on teaching your puppy to pay attention to you around distractions.

The takeway from this article is to focus on one training goal at a time. If you are always making progress in each of your individual tasks, they will add up to a happy, well behaved pooch!

Happy Training!

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