|West Highland White Terrier puppy (Taegan) laying on the couch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Moving towards "What a good dog!" from "Bad Puppy!" is based on one thing. Your puppy does not know the English language, and the faster he learns it, the better for all because the minute he knows what you want he will DO it. Make it faster and easier for him to learn by keeping these tips in mind:
1. Be consistent in the words you choose to teach him commands. If you say, "Wanna go potty?" in the morning, and "Have to go out?" two hours later, and "Wanna go pee?" two hours later, etc., then that is THREE phrases you have asked him to learn in one day instead of only one. Decide which words to use, and make sure everyone in your family uses the same ones.
2. Use his name in the command if you want action, do NOT use it if you want him restricted from an action. This is very important. Hearing his own name makes a puppy leap into action by his very nature. When you want your puppy to come, say, "Puppy, Come!" [insert his name instead of the word Puppy, of course] When you want him to lie down, simply say, "Down".
3. Do not confuse your puppy with the same words for different commands. If you are teaching him basic obedience, the word "Down" means LIE down, usually followed by "Stay." If you don't want him on the couch, do not say "Down", say, "Off." This word can be used to keep him from jumping up into your lap, onto the couch, chair or bed because it is the ACTION of jumping up you are trying to restrict. Saying "Down" when he jumps onto the couch will just make him lie down on the couch! See the difference?
3. Do not ever hit your puppy, you don't need to. The worst punishment he ever needs to learn a lesson is your sad frown and walking away from him. One or two minutes is the limit though, do not overdo this. After a minute of ignoring him, give a command he knows well and praises, praise, praise, with a big smile.
These three tips, used with gentleness and consistency, will teach your puppy all the words he needs to know to be a happy and obedient companion in a matter of days.