Welcome to Merit Puppy Training!
On our site we’ll give you helpful tips on how to train your puppy and help you find the right training classes and obedient schools
You can easily spot a dog that has never been trained properly or is an obedience school dropout. Obvious signs are; begging for food at the table, barking stridently for no apparent reason and autographs every visitor with muddy paw prints.
There are several different philosophical approaches to puppy training; it’s important to match yours with the trainer’s. To train or not to train is less a question than how to train.
Puppy Obedience Training
When obedience training was introduced about 40 years ago, one simply put a choke chain or prong collar on the dog, gave it a command and jerked it into obeying. The use of food, games or toys — any reward other than praise, and not too much of that — was virtually unheard of.
Obedience training has evolved since then to include what many consider the more humane methods of positive reinforcement. One of its first advocates was Karen Pryor, a Boston-based biologist, writer and dolphin trainer who, in 1985, literally wrote the book on a new concept of puppy training. “Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training” is concerned with altering animal behavior without being coercive.
Called “clicker training” because of the small hand-held device that emits a clicking sound, it’s a slang term for B.F. Skinner’s “operant conditioning,” which defined the scientific principles underlying how animals learn.
Skinner’s theories had long been used with dolphins and whales. Says Pryor, who has been a consultant to zoos and corporations: “My contribution has been to bridge the gap between science and practice, and to make it clear to people how this technology works and what it’s for. I’m not especially concerned about what species is involved.”
In the early ’90s, Pryor’s book caught the attention of Ian Dunbar, a California veterinarian and founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. He began applying Pryor’s methods to dog training.
Gradually, new trainers coming into the field, and a few older ones looking for the latest fad, started advertising their use of “positive reinforcement, no-correction training,” which appealed to the many people who believed traditional puppy training was inhumane. Dunbar’s followers have since swelled to 3,000 members.
Many Dog trainers who only positive reinforcement typically disapprove of traditional puppy training. I’ve heard from many that say that both methods work and it’s just a matter of choosing how one wants to go about it — the traditional methods familiar to most people, or kinder methods that actually get the same job done without hurting the dog or the relationship one has with his dog.
Over an untold number of years, there have been hundreds of books, and tens of thousands of pages written on “Puppy Training”. These books have tried to deal with just about every aspect and style of training imaginable, from puppy training, to advanced obedience; from house breaking, to guard dog training; from field trial training, to narcotic sniffing; from hunting, to seeing eye dog training; and on infinite. Puppy training is nothing new. It’s been around for centuries, and includes the training of specialized breeds for specific purposes, (the dogs we today call Purebred).
Take a couple of examples; the Russian Wolf Hound, was bred specifically for hunting Wolves over large expanses with speed and endurance in mind; the Alaskan Malamute, was bred with stamina and strength for draft pulling in frozen wasteland, for long distances, with little food. The Siberian Husky and other specialized breeds were also developed for specific purposes, and all-around uses.
These, and all other Purebred dogs were developed over long periods of time. Even with their inbred instinct for the tasks for which they were designed, they still needed training. Even though a dog was bred and born to perform certain tasks, and their make-up was such that they were basically designed to perform them, you would not expect for example, a sled dog puppy to emerge with a complete understanding and working knowledge of the commands necessary to turn, stop, start, and execute the myriad of directions it will need to take as soon as it is harnessed to a sled. Add to that, each and every one of them were trained to be better than someone else’s dog at their respective trade.
Each and every trainer over the centuries has tried new, innovative, sometimes mind boggling, cutting edge, and often-times simplified techniques in their attempt to train their dogs newer and better things to perform. How can anyone expect a puppy, or any dog for that matter to understand the concept of “house breaking”, unless humans take the time to “explain” it to them and teach all that they will need to know to live “sociably” and in a “civilized” manner. Many people believe that to be in fact a viable solution, and when the dog does not catch on, blame the pitifully, inept, four-legged creature’s problems on its breeders, gene pool, and any other excuse they can come up with.
I will tell you now, that any puppy can be trained to be an enjoyable friend and companion with all the social graces you require, if you are willing to put in the time and energy needed to get the results you desire.
Some of the best trainers in the world probably have never, and will never write a book, run a puppy training class, or even let someone else know the secrets to their successes over the years. Reasons vary, some are reluctant to give-up, hard fought for knowledge, some are trying to keep their edge on competitors, (and believe me, there is fierce competition out there in many fields), others are too busy training, still others have aptitudes for training but not putting their ideas across to others, and so on. The point is, not any one single person, has all the answers on any one of the thousands of subjects on training. Thus, the multitude of books, magazines, newsletters, and other literature on puppy training, and the reason people read as much as possible on the specific topic of their training. If one technique or method does not work, then perhaps the one next will. If a technique worked for dog ‘A’ and not for dog ‘B’, then maybe a different approach will work this time.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to quickly discover that each puppy is different, in many ways, from every other. Puppy ‘B’ for example, does not respond to a particular training technique in the same way, or with the same speed, with even possibly with the same alertness as dog ‘A’ does. Incorrectly, most would rather believe that there is something wrong with dog ‘B’. He or she is not as intelligent, is from a different liter, or was maybe even the runt of the liter and was cheated on brains as well as size. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some breeds are inherently easier to train than others, but due to many factors. None of them are attributable to a lack of intelligence. Lack of aptitude for a particular task, lack of physical ability for a particular exercise, a differing amount of stubbornness between breeds, and a trainers lack of determination, and ability to understand and deal with these various problems in a positive way, are usually the culprits behind failure. Remember, the term “trainer” means, everyone who tries to teach a dog anything, and that means you! You probably wouldn’t be looking for answers in a literary publication if everything was fine, or you need direction from the beginning up, and I’m sure this is not your first dive into the subject.
Well, anyway, here you are, reading yet another book or website on how someone else thinks they know how to train your puppy better than the last person. The possibilities for your interest in this subject, beyond the one listed above, are boundless. Lets see….. new dog owner that needs to learn how to train a dog from scratch?, beginner trainer wanting to pick up new tips?, long time veteran trainer making sure I’m not making stupid mistakes in this book (article)?, avid professional trainers that have a seemingly impossible problem, looking for the improbable answer?, puppy owners desperately looking for clarification of the reason they bought this four-legged 50 pound termite, goat, what-ever?
No one, and I distinctly mean, no one, has all the answers, no matter what they tell you in person, or in publications. First, they don’t know your dog, “personally”. That’s to say , they don’t have a clue as to your particular dogs, temperament, background, genetics, up-bringing, living conditions, and the like. Even if you tell a personal trainer all this information, they still do not really know your dog like you do. About the closest you can get to having someone (other than yourself) understand exactly what you are facing with a problem, is to have either the trainer in a class situation, who has worked extensively with you and your animal, or a private personal trainer that trains your dog for you or with you, work the problem along with you.
So, to be succinct, we will try with this site, and hopefully succeed, in bringing the understanding that to actually comprehend your dog, (you know, the one you want to stop lifting his leg on your neighbor) is of paramount importance (above all else), in any training, problem solving, etc. To tell the truth, if you truly understand your dog, his or her moods, and your own, most problems will not occur, and when they do, they are much more manageable.
To begin with, we will be dealing with what most dog owners take for granted. They are what I call ground rules to any puppy training program or individual session. Having a grasp of these particular rules and guidelines will help you and your puppy come to terms with the concept of training. Who knows,maybe with an open mind, even the most skeptical will pick up a new twist on a very old profession. To this endeavor I will begin.
What Kind of Puppy Should I Get?
There are many right ways to acquire a puppy or new dog. There are even more ways not to buy one. I’m sure you have heard tales of friends that got a dog from a friend of a friend that just happened to have a litter of puppies available for the right price. Or the pet store that has some of the cutest little puppies in the window and your friend tells you that you just can’t wait, they will be gone soon. Well, take pause in your impatient rush ..read more
Where To Get Your Puppy?
Well, now, lets consider the dogs options. The pound (shelter); dog, if very lucky is discovered by some loving human and taken to a new home and lives happily ever-after, (not very likely, and not very often), dog is discovered, taken to a new home (not much better than the first). and cycles through to the pound once again or on to one of the other human options. The dog is not discovered by anyone and in a very short…read more
New Puppy Checklist
Now that you have gotten past the starting point, which is making your decision to get and train a puppy, (and by the way congratulations) and you have purchased everything the breeder told you that you needed, i.e.: what kind of food, leash, collar, I.D. tag, etc., its time to get past those few basics and make sure you have taken care of every thing else the new puppy will need just before you take it home…read more
Dogs are not unlike people in many respects., many breeds appear to become bored with repetition more quickly. If you can’t make it interesting and different from time to time, you may lose their attention. They seem to almost have a need, to know the reason for having to learn certain things. There are several methods or ideas to inject different and interesting training procedures to help keep your dog enthused.Starting out with a regimented schedule is …read more
Where To Train Your Puppy
As indicated previously, your locations of training should change as often as possible once you have finished the initial process of getting your dog comfortable with the training procedures. There are certain rules to follow, which can make your training sessions go much easier, and also help to keep your dog interested and attentive…read more
Where Not To Train Your Puppy
In the previous chapters, we have dealt somewhat with this topic. Let’s get into it a bit more here. As mentioned earlier, the most important message I can give you, is to pick a safe place to train. Not only for your dog, but for you also. It your attempt to find different locations to vary the training session, never train in unlighted areas at night, or any other place that you would not go to even if you were not training…read more
When Not to Train Your Puppy
There are certain times that training should be curtailed. These times are sometimes the most elusive of all to not only understand, but to implement. It’s difficult for a trainer to admit that, “today, I am not capable of training” for some reason or another. It’s also difficult to say that in relation to your dog. i.e.:” My dog is not capable of learning what I am training today.”…read more
Varying The Training Locations
The old saying, “variety is the spice of life”, rings true in the world of dog training as well. Arctic breeds have a propensity toward “attention deficit disorder”, or so it would seem, sometimes. In reality, they just, plain, get bored with repetition, and redundancy, as do I, sometimes. Don’t you? In order to avoid this situation, there are several ways to keep your dogs attention…read more
How to Distinguish and Identify Dog Temperaments
As trainers, it is incumbent upon us to get to know our dog as well as possible. We need to understand their moods, reactions to specific stimuli, and the periods of their ups and downs. This includes everyday living experiences, not just during
training. These observations and understandings will help you in your training. Coupled with the above, is knowing what temperament you are dealing with. In order to deal with a certain temperament…read more
What to expect From Your Puppy
Today, more and more, we find that people expect unbelievable feats of accomplishment from all aspects of life than were previously though reasonable. Many things contribute to this strain on humans and animals alike. Television, Movies, News Broadcasts, and sensational specials, depict animals in feats of daring, and performing acts that only the most advanced trainers should attempt…read more
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