Training Puppy Properly

CAROUSEL - New Orleans Saints football quarterback Drew Brees accepts the award for best male athlete at the ESPY Awards, July 14, 2010 in Los Angeles.
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Along with those adorable eyes, fuzzy bodies, and wagging tails, come biting, chewing, and barking. An uncontrollable puppy grows up to be an uncontrollable dog. So, advises The Early Show's resident veterinarian, Dr. Debbye Turner, it's important to teach a dog to be a "good boy" or "good girl" very early.

At a "Who's Walking Who" training class in New York, proud puppy parents struggle to get their "babies" to come, sit, or stay. They are all dealing with those common bad puppy habits.

Among them, according to Who's Walking Who owner Stacy Alldredge, are all the ones you'd expect: housetraining, jumping, nipping, barking, and biting.

Alldredge points out that a puppy is no small commitment. "You're bringing a newborn into your home. You have to have time, commitment, time, patience, money, and a sense of humor about it."

And contrary to popular belief, you shouldn't wait until your pup is older.

"You start training a puppy the second it arrives in your home," Alldredge notes. "Puppies are great little sponges, they absorb everything."

There are many different schools of thought about how best to train your dog, Turner says. From positive reinforcement, to negative reinforcement, to using this device called "a clicker."

Now, there's another method growing in popularity, used by a company called Bark Busters.

Mark Lieberman, a Bark Busters dog trainer, teaches his clients how to "growl" when a puppy misbehaves. "Dogs don't know our language," he observes. "They know their own language, which is primarily body language, barking and growling."

And growling to them means "no."

Basically, a puppy views you and your family as members of a pack. "The message that all dog owners should give to their dog," Lieberman says, "is the leader always leads. So you are in charge. You initiate everything."

Eileen Forsyth's puppy, Lucky, is remarkably well-behaved. But most of Lieberman's other clients have serious issues. Including The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm and her four-month-old Bichon Frise, "Buttons."

The bulk of Buttons' training falls to Storm's husband, Dan. "You have to be consistent," he says. "You can't just do it a little bit. …If you're sitting around, you gotta get up. Be the dominant person. Do the (growl) thing."

"You feel," Hannah says, "like you are communicating to a dog on a dog level and not a human level."

If all of this sounds like too much work, Lieberman says, "Think about the investment of time you spend with your children. It takes about 20 years to get them trained. So five weeks with a puppy is very short."

Besides just having a well trained dog, there are other reasons to start early with puppy training, Turner adds: The number one reason animals end up in shelters is because of behavioral problems. And in most cases, those problems developed because of poor training or no training.

So what advice does Turner give to puppies owners who are getting frustrated with the training process? "It's so important to remember," Turner concludes, "that puppies are not trying to be bad dogs, they just don't know right from wrong yet. That's the purpose of the training."