There are many resources and many schools of thought behind puppy training. Our goal here isn’t to go over each and every approach, but to share with you our experience with mastering some of the basic training ideas and techniques we've used on our Cane Corso puppies (and even previously not trained adult dogs).
There are four ways to approach training as far as we are concerned.
1) Off Site Training:
This is where you send your new family member away for someone else to bond with and train and pay a hefty fee for such a service. We realize that for some people who are not consistent or who have little faith in their ability to properly teach their pet or really don't have the time it takes to train the dog, that this is a viable solution. In all honesty, whatever it takes to train the dog to fit into your living environment is ideal. The last thing we want or the dog needs is for it to want up in the shelter because it has become a nuisance to the family due to no fault of it's own-- just being a dog.
2) Owner/Pet Training Sessions:
This is probably one of our favorite methods. It allows the puppy to socialize with other pets and watch and learn good behavior or the consequence of bad behavior via the other pet students. It also provides the owner with hands on bonding and training with their new pet while in a safe and helpful environment. There are great programs out there for simple training commands that just about every pet ought to know, such as: sit, stay, down, drop it, and whatever other commands they teach.
PetSmart offers a very inexpensive weekly session for all skill levels. Puppy through Trick Training (more advanced training). While going into a store for training isn't for everyone, it does provide a good environment for distractions and interactions with other pets and people, as well as small animals like birds, hamsters or kittens in the window. Of course, there are many private lessons you can purchase through a local training. We find those are helpful when the dog has had proper socialization and has mastered a few simple commands, and maybe just needs more help focusing on a certain task or problem area OR if your pet is aggressive towards other dogs.
3) Self Training:
This is where the owner teaches the dog the commands on their own. This is something we've done with many of our dogs, however, if you are a novice dog owner, this might not be the best strategy. You must remember that the pet has NEVER head that word before and has no idea what it means. It's like talking to a 3 month old baby. They hear the sound and see your facial expression but have no idea what that means, so patience and compassion is a must. You need to take into consideration the breed you're working with. If the breed is rumored to be stubborn or independent, you may need more assistance and guidance in training so that you are consistent and accountable in order to ensure success. Remember that there is an ENORMOUS difference between being the alpha pack leader and being a dominating jerk. One of those, your dog will learn to respect and submit to, and the other will instill unhealthy fear, which can lead to aggression, peeing in the home, stress (i.e.: tearing up your things), running away, and many other undesirable traits that will likely wind the dog up in a shelter, all because you thought ALPHA meant being mean.
There are delightful books and even some fun online videos you can check out on how to begin this process. Treats and a jovial attitude are a bonus when training any dog.
4) Pack Training:
This is an interesting technique and can only work when there are multiple dogs in the pack family and at least one of them is very obedient and can become a fine example for the dog in training. This method can be used to train puppies as we all other non-trained adult dogs.
Typically, the way we have found this to work is during feeding time, or when all dogs have a common incentive. For example, in our Superior, MT kennel, we have a very obedient and responsive 9 year-old Irish Wolfhound and 3 Cane Corsos. One of the Cane Corsos is a 4 month old puppy and of the adult dogs, Piper, wasn't worked with much as far as obedience training goes as a puppy and is now 2 year old. When we feed all of the dogs, we begin with the most polite dog, which is the Irish Wolfhound. We show him his food bowl and ask him calmly to sit. Then we feed him a TINY amount (I need him to repeat this multiple times so the other dogs see that his action gets a reward-- that there is incentive. Then, we choose the next dog to feed and ask that dog to sit. It the dog doesn't sit, we repeat several times. If the dog still doesn't sit, we go back to the Wolfhound and ask him to sit again, and when he does, he gets his food reward again. We repeat this until we get the action in the other dogs that we are looking for. In this case, they sit. We will NEVER feed the dog if it doesn't do the action. With this being said, we have never had a dog not sit. They want their food, and they'll watch and learn until they do it. The sit doesn't have to be long, they just have to do the action. The length of time is something we can build on after the dog has mastered sit.
This same technique can be used with any command. Keep in mind, make sure the dog is hungry as this will help provide a teachable environment. DO NOT starve the dog. I can't believe we needed to even say that, but this is the world in which we live.