Cavaliers are generally happy dogs and can be easy to train. (Obviously there are exceptions!) Positive training methods (rewarding the behavior you want) rather than aversive training methods (punishing the behavior you don’t want) have worked very well with our dogs.

There are a number of excellent books that describe positive training methods – how they work, why they work, and how to teach specific behaviors. If I could only choose one to recommend, it would be Purely Positive Training by Sheila Booth.

Reading about training can provide a wealth of information, but we strongly encourage pet owners to also attend training classes. Classes provide a structure for teaching some basic behaviors and have the benefit of a professional who can watch your progress and offer pointers. Be sure to check out the instructor and/or school before you begin. Choose an instructor who uses positive methods and whom you feel you can trust and respect. If at any point during a class you feel uncomfortable with something the instructor is suggesting you do, don’t do it. Discuss it with the trainer AFTER class. As with all things, be true to yourself and your dog.

In addition to training, socialization is of the utmost importance. While your dog is a puppy, you must get him used to a wide variety of people, places, and things. A good breeder will have begun this process for you, but you must continue it. If you want your dog to travel well in the car, then take your puppy with you regularly as you run errands. If you want him to readily accept petting from strangers, then introduce him to lots of new people frequently and make sure the encounters are positive for him. Whatever you want your dog to do as an adult, begin teaching him as a puppy if you can.

This all sounds like a lot of work and can easily get overwhelming. Just take it one step at a time. Love your dog, set some limits, and enjoy him. Keep training fun for both of you and don’t forget to PLAY!

If you find that you enjoy training your dog, perhaps you would be interested in taking the training further and investigating some of the dog sports. There are many, many fun activities you can do with your dog. We are certainly enjoying learning about agility, rally, and obedience. Check out some of the sites on our links page to find out more!