I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF TRAINING AT HOME. One of the biggest mistakes any dog owner makes is they think they should instantly start training their dog outside.
Wrong! How can you expect your dog to listen to you when there are millions of distractions? Different scents? People around you? Another dog? Do you think you are that good of a trainer and that you have that great relationship with your puppy?
Well, I always say this, do not be overconfident. There is nothing wrong with starting from the bottom.
Types of training sessions you can do at home
The first thing people ask is what they can train at home? Well, basically, every trick, command, and cue. Yes, you can train recall at home. You can train to sit at home. And everything in between. And the best part is when you are at home, there are no distractions. It is just you and your dog.
So, what can you do? Well, here are some quick examples of games you can play at home and how to use them for training.
Start by handfeeding your dog. And by handfeeding your puppy, you can teach it manners. For example, you can always play the open fist/closed fist game.
How do you do this? Well, you sit your puppy, and you start moving your fist with kibble. If your puppy is impatient, do not open the fist. The goal is to open the fist while your puppy is sitting, and then give him a command/cue to eat. If your puppy is eating too fast, simply close your fist.
This simple exercise will teach your dog so many things. For starters, it teaches impulse control. It teaches your dog to sit and wait patiently. It helps with fast eating which can lead to gastrointestinal problems in your pup.
Now, the next game you can play at home is teaching new tricks. The simple tricks. Sit, lie down, up, sit again, and so on. How to do this? Simple, just feed your dog kibble every time it performs a command you give. This is how I give Milo dinner. We repeat many different commands and tricks.
Now, moving on to the Third exercise, or what I call teaching recall at home. You can call your dog, wait for him to come, have him sit, and then give him kibble. Or, I have an advanced game for teaching recall.
Call your dog, and have your hand full of kibble. Throw a kibble away and instruct your puppy to go and get it. Once your puppy eats the kibble, call him. When your pup comes to you, praise and reward with lots of kibbles. This teaches your puppy that good things happen when he comes to you. Eventually, your puppy will automatically come to you, sit, and wait for kibble.
See? There are so many games you can play at home. Do not rush it to move outside and train.
When to start training your dog?
The moment you get him home. Training starts from the second your puppy crosses your porch. You cannot spare a single second. Use every opportunity to train your puppy and teach him good manners.
But when you do a regular training session at home, keep it short. Five to ten minutes is more than enough. Anything more and your dog will lose willingness and focus. If your dog gets bored or frustrated, it might be counterproductive to try and push him to learn.
When to move outside?
This is a tricky one and it depends on lots of factors. I would say when you feel comfortable your dog can perform. In the beginning, you can train with a loose leash.
The general rule of thumb is that your puppy should perform the same exercise four times in a row without a mistake. And that is when you up the level. For some exercises, you increase distance. For others, you increase the time between command and reward.
It is important to note that when you move the party outside, you do not rush again. Start in a low-distractions area. And as your puppy is getting better and better, move to a higher-distraction area.
At this point, practice with a loose leash. Only when you have a reliable recall, you can have him off-leash.