Start teaching your puppy good manners as soon as you bring him home. Very simply reward him for behaviour that you want to encourage and ignore behaviour that you don't want. A puppy has no idea what you regard as bad behaviour. A lot of behaviour that is natural to a dog is unacceptable to people. Examples are jumping up and licking your face and sniffing at crotches. In the canine world these are normal ways of greeting.
Teach your puppy now, if you want to have a well mannered adult dog. The whole family must be consistent so that your puppy learns the right lessons. Keep in mind that some puppy antics that are cute now, will not be at all cute when performed by a full sized adult dog. Never reward a puppy for anything that you do not want an adult dog to do.
A puppy will repeat behaviour that earns him a reward and avoid behaviour that doesn't. Good behaviour should always be rewarded and bad behaviour ignored. You must be very careful not to inadvertently reward bad behaviour thereby encouraging it to be repeated. Jumping up can result in a pat and a lick of your face - both rewarding to the dog - turn away so he doesn't get the reward. Food on the kitchen bench becomes a reward for stealing from the bench - make sure all food is put away.
A reward can be a treat, a game, a toy, your attention, a pat or access to something that the puppy wants. Punishment is withholding a reward and usually never needs to be more severe than this. The most powerful punishment is to ignore your dog. Physical punishment is not necessary. Never hit your dog - there is no need to get physical with him.
Dogs learn much more from body language and tone of voice than from words. The tone of your voice should be appropriate for his behaviour. A high happy tone is correct for praise and encouragement.
Your puppy should always be rewarded for good behaviour such as sitting quietly, coming to you (for whatever reason), waiting at doorways and sitting for his meal. Watch for these behaviours so that you can reward them. Never reward him for jumping up, barking repeatedly or begging at the dinner table. Be careful - shouting (attention) is viewed as a reward by some dogs.
Try to prevent bad behaviour before it happens and foster good behaviour from the start. Don't wait until the bad behaviour has a history of rewards. Bad habits are hard to break, but good habits are also difficult to change. Always keep some treats in your pocket so you can immediately reward good behaviour.
The education of a puppy lays the foundation for the future dog. A well behaved dog doesn't just happen - he is taught.
© Fernamber Golden Retrievers 2002-2008