When a dog does something particularly smart or surprising, we tend to resort on the instinct theory. “Oh, he does on instinct,” we cry. Perhaps he does; on the other hand, perhaps his mom taught him.
A lot of the supposedly instinctive animal conduct is taught the young by their mothers. Puppies build their first bond of attachment with their mother while she feeds them, licks them clean, and looks after them. As they mature in the nest, they learn a lot from their dam, especially when they are free to trail her and she is able to demonstrate to themthe sights and the dangers. When we acquire a young puppy, we are literally getting him out of elementary school; so let’s get him right back in once more, and teach him what a small dog on his own should to know.
The most simple of all the puppy’s obedience lessons is “Go to bed!” or just “Bed!” or “Place!” or any expression you may prefer to use. Its rewards are too many to name. Remove the puppy’s toys by his bed, and use one of them to begin a little game. Take his toy away, give it back, then take it away once again. Of course, he will want it. Raise it up so he can see it, and as you walk towards his bed or box, say, “Go to bed!” He will scamper after you, and as he watches you drop the toy in the box, he would jump to get it. You are telling him to do what he is already been doing, but the point is that you are instilling upon his mindthe sound of the order “Go to bed!” at the very instant he is hopping in. Repeating the order would soon associate the words with the act. When he realizes what is wanted, you can omit the toy. Just issue the command and give a signal with your hand in the area of the box.
Do not over fatigue the pupil by carrying on the lesson longer than five minutes at a time. Four or five lessons each day are enough. Be steady in your teaching, be patient, and above all, be encouraging. “Go to bed!” is an order, not a penalty, so be cheerful, sociable about it. All the lessons won’t go well. Occasionally the pup will be baffled; he’ll look up at you, worried, as if saying, “What am I to do?” Halt everything. Pet him, talk to him. Wait for a while and then begin all over again. Once he gets the thought, his eyes would shine as he scampers to obey. Then, be bountiful with your praise.
A young pup’s memory is short, so “little and often” is a good teaching formula. Numerous short training periods per day are the finest, without one day skipped when it can be avoided. Even after the lesson was learned, use it frequently or the puppy will forget. Gradually step-up the distance until the puppy can be sent to bed from another room.