Saint Bernards are loyal dogs that make great pets. They can be stubborn although they’re intelligent, so it’s important that you train your Saint Bernard puppy early to help combat this stubbornness. Work on house training your puppy, teaching them basic commands, and creating a positive environment for them.
EditTeaching Your Puppy Basic Commands
- Teach the sit command. The “sit” command is the easiest to teach your dog, so it should be first. In a firm, clear voice, tell your Saint Bernard puppy to “sit.” Then, gently help them place their bottom on the floor. Praise them. Keep repeating until your puppy sits when you command it.
- You can use treats to reward your puppy. When you get them on their bottom, give them a treat immediately. This way, they can associate sitting with a positive reward.
- Do this every day until your puppy learns it. You should start with short sessions of around five minutes since your puppy is young, but you can increase the amount of time spent on these sessions as they learn. Be patient and don’t lose your temper if your Saint Bernard doesn’t get it quickly.
- Train your puppy to come. Training your Saint Bernard puppy to come when called is important. This skill will enable them to go off-leash and have more freedoms. Tell your puppy to “come” while walking backwards. The puppy will probably follow you. When your Saint Bernard gets to you, say “come” again before moving backwards. This helps your dog learn what the word means.
- Reward your puppy when they come to you. Try using treats, toys, petting, or verbal praise.
- Teach your dog to stay. Stay can be taught to your Saint Bernard puppy once they learn to sit and come. From a sitting position, hold their collar and say “stay.” Then move away from them a short distance before calling them to you.
- Repeat in short intervals at first, then increase how long they have to stay and how far you walk before you let them come to you or move.
- You can also teach your puppy a release word such as “okay” or “move,” which will let them know when it is okay to move.
- Stay is a very important command for your Saint Bernard puppy, especially if you plan to take them in public. This command can help keep them out of danger and trouble.
- Train your dog to lay down. The command “lay down” is usually done after you teach “stay.” After your Saint Bernard puppy learns to stay, tell them the command “down” from that position. At first, you will have to gently guide them down into that position as you say “down.” This pairing will associate the action with the position.
- Keep doing it over and over again until your puppy does it on their own.
- You can use a treat in your hand to help guide your puppy into the laying position.
- Leash train your Saint Bernard puppy. Saint Bernard puppies grow into large dogs, so you should teach it to walk on leash in a controlled manner. Take your puppy for short walks on the leash to start. When the puppy tries to run ahead and pulls the leash, stop. Stand still without letting the puppy go where they want to go. When the puppy comes back to you or sits, start walking again.
- Praise good behavior on the leash with verbal praise, petting, and treats.
- Consider teaching your puppy to sit before they get the leash on them. This helps reduce jumping because they’re too excited.
EditCreating a Positive Environment
- Be consistent. Consistency is the key to training your Saint Bernard puppy. You should use the same words every time you give a command. This makes it clear to your puppy what you expect. Make sure you always expect the same thing for your dog and apply the same rules. Don’t allow your puppy to ignore your sit command before you put on the leash or reward them for jumping if you don’t want them to learn these behaviors.
- Talk to everyone in your household about the rules and make sure they understand the command words and what is expected of your puppy.
- Be patient. Saint Bernards can be trained, but they are stubborn. They will test their boundaries and may resist training for awhile. Remember, your puppy is still young and growing. They will learn, but it will take time. Keep reasonable expectations, reinforce the behaviors consistently, and stay calm, and your puppy will learn eventually.
- Use positive reinforcement training methods. Positive reinforcement training is one of the most effective ways to train your puppy. Positive reinforcement uses rewards to reinforce good behavior. Your puppy learns that if they perform a desired action, they will receive something good in return. Use treats, petting, verbal praise, and toys as rewards for good behavior.
- Ignore any undesired behaviors. Responding in any way reinforces the behavior. Turn your back and ignore the behavior until your puppy stops it.
- Avoid punishment. Saint Bernards will not listen or respect owners who use punishment with them. Trying to correct negative behavior with punishment is not an effective training method. Yelling or physically hurting the puppy will more than likely not change the behavior, but rather make the puppy scared of you or lead to bad behaviors. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement methods.
EditHousetraining Your Puppy
- Choose an elimination spot. Find a spot outdoors where you want your puppy to go to the bathroom. Take your Saint Bernard to this spot every time they go to the bathroom. The puppy will eventually learn that this is where they need to go and will start wanting to go to do their business in this spot.
- Set an elimination schedule. Your Saint Bernard puppy needs to learn that they have to use the bathroom in their elimination spot. When you first get your puppy, set up a schedule to take them out. Start with taking them out every hour. They should also be taken out first thing in the morning, before bed, and after meals.
- Setting up a feeding schedule can help reinforce the elimination schedule. Your Saint Bernard will get used to going out within 30 minutes after they eat.
- Reward your puppy. Associate the act of going to the bathroom in their elimination spot with a positive reward. When your puppy does their business, give them verbal praise, pet them, and give them a treat. This helps them want to do their business in the elimination spot.
- Provide the rewards immediately after the puppy finishes. Don’t start verbal praise while they are still going, and don’t wait until you are back inside the house. Rewards need to be immediate.
- Interrupt your puppy calmly if you catch them going in the house. If your Saint Bernard starts to go to the bathroom in the house, calmly interrupt them. Speak their name and clap your hands to get their attention. Then, pick them up and take them outside to the elimination spot. After they do their business, give them a treat to reinforce the positive behavior.
- Avoid yelling at your puppy if you catch them messing in the house. They are learning, so teach them the correct behavior calmly and positively. Don’t rub their nose in the mess or punish them.
- Confine your puppy at first. While you are house training them, you should keep them confined to small area of the house where you can keep an eye on them. Your Saint Bernard needs to be monitored until they have learned that they go outside. Confining them helps keep accidents to a minimum and helps you watch them for signs they need to go out.
- You can use baby gates, dog play pens, or closed doors to help limit where your puppy can roam.
- Try crate training. Crate training can be a good way to house train your Saint Bernard puppy. Dogs see crates as their space, so they are less likely to mess in it. Plus, you can leave the puppy in the crate when you go out. You can also let your puppy sleep in the crate at night.
- The crate should be big enough for the puppy to stand up comfortably and turn around. Start with a smaller crate that is closer to your puppy’s size and then move up to a larger one more fit for your adult Saint Bernard.
- Don’t use the crate as punishment. This should be a positive space for your puppy.