Training is another vital part of raising a happy and healthy dog. All dogs should be trained to walk on a leash and be housebroken. Some people prefer housebreaking a puppy by training it to urinate and defecate on newspapers, which are laid flat in a small area such as a foyer. The puppy is rewarded each time it voids on the paper; then the newspapered area is gradually reduced and finally eliminated altogether. However, crate training, in which a dog is confined to a crate for limited periods, is more effective because dogs will avoid soiling their own living quarters. Whichever method is chosen, housebreaking should begin as soon as a puppy comes home with its new owner, who should provide the puppy with frequent opportunities to urinate and defecate outside. In general, pups are not completely housebroken until they are at least 12 weeks old.
Most puppies are ready to begin obedience lessons at six to eight months of age. The first lessons should be relatively brief, about 10 to 15 minutes a day, and gradually increase to 30 minutes, depending on the dog’s level of concentration. Training is best accomplished with lots of praise and a stern “no” for corrections. The trainer should always be consistent in reinforcing good behavior and correcting bad behavior and should never strike a dog. Many trainers use a leash and chain-link collar, known as a choke collar. Despite its name, the collar is never meant to choke a dog, but is used to deliver quick snaps to gain and direct a dog’s attention. This training collar is useful in teaching basic obedience commands, such as sit, stay, heel, come, and down.