Dogs Do What Works
Your dog is always learning, so if you make the rewards of her behavior contingent upon her behavior then you'll have hundreds of interactions with her each day. You're going to pet your puppy? Great, ask for Sit. You want to toss the ball for her? Fine. Ask for a Sit. You're going to let her out to go potty? Great, ask for Sit at the door. You're going to refill her water bowl because she's thirsty? Fine again, ask her to Sit before she drinks it. Training should be naturally incorporated into your dog's day. I'd think that your puppy can have as many repetitions per day as she has pieces of kibble to eat, doors to go out, ears to be scratched, etc. Think of it as her learning the ropes in your home, learning what works and what doesn't. If jumping up gets someone to pet her, that works. If jumping on the counter lands her some munchies, well that worked, too. Your puppy should learn that when in doubt, try Sit to get Good Stuff.
With my puppy class, I stress that the time under four months should be the time they focus on socialization, because that is a critical period in a puppy's life, much as a human's life before the age of three forms the basis of the rest of their life. Whatever your puppy sees and experience now forms the black box of how they perceive their world. Is the world a friendly place full of nice people with soft pats and treats, friendly dogs, and fun places to go? Or is the world just one house, one family, and Who Knows What Else out beyond the borders of the home? The focus on obedience should come after this critical socialization piece, but there's nothing preventing your puppy from learning all the time. Just focus on teaching him how the world works, instead of formal commands of Sit, Down, Stay, and Come.
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List and Site Owner: Melissa Alexander, mca @ clickersolutions.com