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As regular readers will know, Herbie has recently turned one and today I am reflecting back on our puppy training journey with him.
It does seem strange to think back to those first weeks when Herbie came home with us, it was actually the end of this month last year. He was so tiny, though of course he’s not exactly huge now! He knew nothing about the rules of the house, what was expected of him and how to behave, so it was all down to us to teach him and help him to adjust to his new home and life.
My Attitude To Puppy Training
As you’d expect, me being me, I did do plenty of research before bringing Herbie home as I wanted to do all that I could to get it right and help him. I knew that I wanted to adopt positive force-free methods to dog training, so I read lots of advice and tips and watched some great YouTube videos.
This kind of training is about minimising the chances of your dog making the wrong choices and reinforcing with plenty of praise, attention and treats the behaviours that you do want from them.
How I Trained Herbie
When Herbie first came home, I wanted to help him to learn a few basic rules, such as toilet training and not to eat and chew things that were bad for him. I prioritised teaching him those things that would most benefit him and keep him safe, whilst keeping everything fun and comfortable for him. We used clicker training and I worked hard to reinforce all of the behaviours that I wanted from him whenever I spotted them.
Training a dog is a full time job! I didn’t leave him for the first few months of his life and he was very well socialised, which is absolutely key to effective puppy training. Spending all of this time with him at the outset was hard work, but is has absolutely paid off in the long term.
We didn’t use any aversion methods or tell him off, and I do believe that he learned very quickly this way and bonded with me well. He learned to trust me and take my lead, and this still stands a year on. He is full of personality and confidence, miniature dachshunds can be feisty little things, and he is well-behaved.
Herbie was motivated to learn when I used treats, he especially loved fresh chicken. I do think that an important part of being a dog owner is getting their food and nutrition right, so I did lots of research into the best foods for him, particularly grain free dog food, appropriate treats to use, and all of those things that he should not eat. He eats well and we take care to not over feed him and give him enough exercise so that he does not become overweight as this can put a real strain on his health.
Things I Wish I’d Known
It is easy to lose sight of how quickly puppies do learn and grow when they first come home. It is exhausting watching them every single second of the day as they can get up to all sorts and of course you have to watch them all of the time to prevent any toileting accidents. They do also only have small bladders so you are getting up during the night with them too, adding to that exhaustion! But they learn and grow so very quickly, it is a relatively short period of time that it is this full on. It would be good to go back and remind myself of this in those first few weeks, just to reassure me.
Finally, although I did know this but kind of overlooked it, I wish I had known, or rather remembered, that they are only small for a very short time. So relish it, enjoy those pot-bellied puppy cuddles and their unbelievable cuteness.
How did you find training your dog?
Disclosure: This post is in conjunction with James Wellbeloved but all thoughts are my own