The majority of the larger breed dogs are very pack oriented, which can make for a simpler method of training. You don’t need to fight nature when you can use the wolf within to train your puppy, or dog if you’re starting late, to do everything from sit to stay.
The first step with any dog is to assert dominance; be the alpha dog in your family pack. Puppies normally do better with training if it’s preformed by one person. You want your dog to listen to everyone in the family and eventually it will, but at first setting that base understanding of obedience is important. There can be only one alpha dog. If your puppy isn’t sure whose number one so to speak they may think they are, and everyone else is under their command. This can result in your puppy sleeping your in bed, not allowing you to take toys, or things that aren’t toys away without a fight, aggression, lack of obedience and just a generally bad dog.
So how do you establish yourself as the top dog?
Starting at a young age engage your puppy in non-aggressive trails of dominance, an example of such a trial:
Hold your puppy either up off the floor holding from behind the front legs in your lap, or if it’s a larger dog, straddle him and standing over him picking him up by under the chest. You can also hold him down with a hand on his middle back if you wish. If the puppy growls or struggles, give a low guttural growl back. Keep this up until you can hold your dog down, or up without it putting up any resistance. Be sure to support this positive behavior with praise, you may also begin to teach the command, “stay” with this technique by saying it as beginning the test.
This may prove more difficult if the puppy you’re attempting to train is not a puppy, and has had previous owners. If the dog bites you, professional help should be obtained at once. If it is a puppy and it playfully nips, remember the low growl, and if behavior continues turn to discipline covered in the coming paragraphs. Nibbling may be cute now but when your puppy is grown he could hurt children, or even adults. This is true with all puppy behavior, if you don’t want your dog doing it as an adult don’t allow it as a puppy.
Once your puppy has a firm understanding that you can make it stay and are the stronger member of the pack, you can further establish yourself as alpha dog by using eye contact. Only the alpha dog is allowed to maintain eye contact. Look your puppy in the eye, and when he looks away praise him. You must not be first to avert your eyes.
It shouldn’t take long for your puppy to understand you are boss with these training techniques; now you can use your leadership to train and discipline your puppy as well.
To discipline a puppy in training no hitting is necessary. Show the puppy what it is its done wrong. (ex/ wet on the floor) Grab the puppy by the snout, look it in the eye and say “No” very firmly. No is the first and easiest command a puppy learns. He will avert his eyes, then grab his scruff (or the loose skin and fur on the back of the puppies’ neck) and shake. Don’t give the puppy attention for about 15 minutes after wards.
To praise a puppy in training for properly performing a command you can either, pet them, praise them in a positive tone or even offer treats. If you expect a puppy to learn repetition is important, but do no attempt long training sessions. Puppies have very short attention spans; it will only result in you and your puppy’s frustration. Use opportunities like feedings to add in extra time. (ex/ ask to “sit” or “lay down” before receiving food.)
The alpha dog method of training doesn’t normally work as well with smaller breeds of dogs, this is perhaps because they are further removed from wolves, and have lost more of their pack instincts, but if you’ve chosen a large breed dog this method is by far the easiest.
After your dog is well trained it’s only a matter of establishing that the rest of your family is also above the puppy in rank, but not above you or whoever will be the main handler of the dog. (The main handler should be the puppies trainer) Soon your dog or puppy will listen to you and your family as well as have an established pack bond with you, which will promote a good guard dog and a safe house.
Having a good dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life, or one of the most obnoxious. The difference between the two is behavior, and behavior is for the most part a result of puppy training. Good luck, and have fun.