Puppy Kindergarten: Getting Ready for Class!

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We can’t wait for your and your puppy to join us!

Puppy Kindergarten is “rolling registration”, which means that members of the class will have started at different times from one another. In order to help you get up to speed, we have links to several videos which will introduce you to the basics. We also encourage you to read How We Train which explains the basics of how dogs learn, and how we deal with problem behavior.

Introducing the Clicker

We often use a clicker to let our dogs know that the behavior that they are performing is something we like. Here is a video from Battersea Dog Training’s YouTube channel to introduce you and your puppy to using the clicker. (Bonus! They include a brief demo of introducing your dog to a mat. We’ll look at matwork one week in class, but this will give you a great start.)

The clicker and other special sounds that tell our dogs that they have done something we like are called “markers”. If you don’t have a clicker you can use a special word for your clicker—a “marker word”. I like to have a marker word in addition to my clicker, because sometimes one is more suitable for what I’m training than the other.

Choose a word for your marker that you and the others who will be training your dog can say in the same way. Pick a word that can serve as a unique sound, rather than as conversation. My current favorites are “ping”, “boop”, and “click”! Whether you use a clicker or a word, or choose to teach both (my preference), introduce it the same way:

  1. Click (or say your Marker Word)
  2. Feed a treat
  3. Click
  4. Feed a treat
  5. Repeat to a total of five repetitions
  6. Toss a treat away to give your puppy a brief brain break
  7. Repeat Steps 1-5

Once your puppy understands that the click means that a treat is coming:

  1. Ask for a behavior that she already knows.
  2. The moment she performs it, click.
  3. Follow the click with a treat.
  4. Repeat for a total of five repetitions.

There you go! You and your puppy now have a fabulous way to communicate!

Teaching Your Puppy to Touch Your Hand

If I could teach only three behaviors this would be one of them. It might be my choice if I could teach only one behavior! “Hand Targeting” can be a foundation to teaching numerous other behaviors such as coming when called, walking nicely by your side, sports skills, and excellent tricks. Forms of targeting are used to teach service dogs, and to train dogs for stage and screen. I like to say that it is “The Swiss Army Knife of dog training skills”.

Here is a video to get you started! We will visit this skill (and possibly this video) in class, but you might not want to wait to start this fun training game. It has the bonus of giving her something to do with your hand other than nipping!

A Few Puppy Tips

Our Training Tips have a number of resources to help you and your puppy begin your journey together. You can browse them all on our Training Tips tab. A few that may be particularly helpful are:

We’ll See You in Class!

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