It is important to begin training when the puppy is in a relaxed (but not overtired) state. Much like any youngster, a hyper or anxious puppy with lots of energy will not respond well to learning something new.
Go for a walk or spend a few minutes in vigorous play before starting the instruction.
Teaching a Puppy to Roll-Over
Teaching a puppy to roll-over is a great way to reinforce who, exactly, is top dog (hint: it is NOT the puppy!).
• Place puppy on side. If puppy is squirmy, place a hand firmly on ribcage to maintain the position.
• Hold a treat by puppy’s ear. Move treat toward opposite ear while saying, “Roll-over” in a clear, commanding voice.
• Puppy will roll toward the treat. When puppy completes the roll, immediately praise and reward with treat.
Exposing the belly is a sign of submission in the canine world, so don’t be surprised if some puppies resist this trick at first. Try sweetening the deal with a nice belly rub or tummy scratch. With a little practice, most puppies will overcome any initial resistance, and actually come to enjoy the fringe benefits of performing the roll-over trick.
Teaching a Puppy to “Leave It.”
It is never too early to teach a puppy the “Leave It” command. Better to do it early than to regret it later when the puppy is racing across the yard after the neighbor’s cat.
• Put puppy on leash
• Place a forbidden object out of reach. The forbidden object should be something the puppy will find difficult to resist, such as a favorite toy, a ball, or a treat.
• When puppy makes a move toward object say, “Leave it,” in a firm, commanding voice.
• When puppy makes eye contact, reward with treat. If puppy does not give eye contact, cover forbidden object with something (the sole of a shoe works fine) and repeat command until puppy makes eye contact. Reward immediately after eye contact is established.
When giving commands, resist the urge to use baby talk. Puppies are cute and sweet, but even when they are babies, they are still pack animals. From the moment they are born, they are trying to determine where they fit into the pack. It is the owner’s job to make certain the puppy knows who is boss, and baby talk will quickly sabotage puppy training.
Train Puppy to Twirl
This one is easy, and a crowd-pleaser to boot.
• Hold a treat in front of puppy’s nose. Lead puppy in a tight circle, making sure to keep treat just out of puppy’s reach.
• Puppy will start to spin.
• When puppy completes the spin, praise and give treat.
Teaching a puppy to roll-over, to “Leave It” and to twirl are three easy tricks any puppy can master.