For those of you who are having problems teaching your puppy training tricks and are contemplating spending hundreds of dollars for a good obedience school, relax! You don’t need to. Russia’s 19th century psychologist, Ivan Pavlov discovered the effectiveness of conditional training of dogs with the experiment he conducted with his dog. The experiment that Ivan Pavlov conducted with his dog was to see if the dog would come by ringing a bell with the expectation of a reward. As Pavlov rang his bell, he gave a piece of meat to his dog when he came. Pavlov later discovered that the dog would come upon hearing the sound of the ringing bell because he associated the sound of the bell with getting a piece of meat.
Ivan Pavlov’s dog experiment and obedience puppy training basically have the same thing in common. Basically, most obedience training is based on Pavlov’s findings. The only difference is that the sound of Pavlov’s bell has been replaced with a command, but the principle is still the same. The puppy hears the command “COME” and he comes because he has been trained to expect a treat when he hears that command. It’s that simple, so why spend hundreds of dollars on expensive obedience schools when obedience training is so simple that you can do this yourself? Just go to your local grocer’s pet aisle and get some doggy treats and give one to your puppy every time he comes when you tell him “COME!”
This conditional puppy training does not only work with training your dog to come. You can also use Pavlov’s conditional training to teach your dog other commands as well. For example, teaching your dog to sit works the same way. Upon the command “SIT,” give your dog a treat every time he sits. You may have to gently push his rump down to get him to sit so he knows that he is supposed to sit when he hears “SIT!”
How about training your dog some entertaining tricks? You probably doubt that the Pavlovian conditional learning tactics for training your puppy tricks won’t work, right? Wrong. Pavlovian tactics work great for puppy training tricks also. The important thing is that you get your puppy to understand the action he is to perform when he hears a certain word and you give him a treat when he performs the appropriate action upon hearing that word. It works like a charm. So how do you get your puppy to get to understand the actions he is to perform upon the commands? Well, that depends on the trick you want him to learn. Some tricks are below.
Training your puppy to shake is probably one of the most common tricks people like to teach their dogs. This is also one of my favorite tricks, especially with large dogs that like to put their paws on your leg or somewhere else. This is also one of the easiest tricks to teach your dog. Get him to shake by gently lifting his paw and shake it as if you were to shake a hand along with telling him “SHAKE!” Give him a treat and then he will lift the paw for you to shake it. To be real cute, have your dog sit first, and then as your dog sits, tell him “SHAKE” and have him lift his paw for you to shake. This can be a cute spectacle for house guests.
Training your puppy to sing can be a bit more tricky and may not work with all dogs. This usually works with dogs that like to howl or bray. My first grade teacher had such a dog that would sing with us when we had music class. This was quite a bit of fun, but it is a rather difficult trick to teach your dog. The best way is to get your dog to sit and then as you play a song, get him to howl on the command “SING!” You may have to howl to get your puppy to howl. As your puppy begins to howl on command, give him a treat.
Training your puppy many different tricks will depend on the breed of dog, some puppies may not be able to do all the tricks, but several of the basic tricks are mentioned in this article.