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Be Patient With Your Puppy


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There are two ways that we can be more patient with our puppy. The first is when teaching them a novel command. An example would be this: In my puppy training program, you always teach a puppy to sit, and that's very easy to do. You get a food lure, you hold it to their nose, you bring it over their head, their butt touches the ground. You mark the sit with a yes, and you give the food reward. Within a very short period of time, the puppy will understand what sit means. 


Then, you teach the down command. This is where the patience is going to become necessary. When teaching the down command, use shaping.  Hold the treat to the puppy's nose, bring it right down between their paws, and bring it forward so that their front paws come forward, their belly lays on the ground flat, and then mark it with a yes and feed them the food reward. This takes time, and owners often get in the way by being impatient and repeating commands. You want to say the command once and let the puppy learn to do the movement independently.


Don't get in the way after you've done 10 to 15 repetitions of shaping, don't shape anymore, and don't use a food lure. Just say the command “down” once and see what the puppy does. This is where patience is necessary to teach a novel command. The puppy will usually look around, move their paws a little bit, fidget, and maybe scratch themselves because they're not exactly sure what you want them to do. You’re teaching them to make a decision. 


You’ve taught them the command, and you’ve taught them the movement using shaping. Now, they must decide, and you must get out of the way. The more you help them and the more you try to go back to shaping and luring them during this critical period of making decisions, the less they will learn. This is how to be patient when teaching new commands and new movements to your puppy. 


The second way to be more patient with your puppy Is overall in their life. A puppy will reach adolescence between six and nine months, and then they start moving into adulthood. Depending on the breed of your puppy, they may reach adulthood at one year, or it may be two years. Every dog will be different depending on the breed and their size. When your puppy's going into adulthood, they'll still make mistakes. Even if you hired a dog trainer, even if you've done obedience training every day, even if you've done excellent leash training, even if you think you've done everything well, they only have a short amount of training compared to humans. 


Think about this for a second. You have a child, five years old. The child goes to kindergarten and then goes through elementary school, junior high school, and high school, and then they are 18 years old, and they may or may not go to college.


If they attend four years of college and graduate at 22 years old, that's 17 years of training and education. Humans expect their puppies to learn everything immediately, and when they don't learn it after a few weeks or a few months, they get frustrated and impatient. It’s essential to stay patient. You have to understand that puppies and dogs learn at their own pace. We can't force them to learn faster. Every breed is different, every household is different, and every environment is different. 


Even when your puppy is 8 years old, they will still make mistakes. They're not perfect. Puppies aren't perfect. Dogs aren't perfect. Humans aren't perfect. This is where patients come in, understanding that they will never be perfect. It’s essential to stay patient.


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