When you embark on the process of working with your puppy, ask yourself: Am I training for success or for failure?

If you are spending more than a few minutes at a time and getting frustrated when results and attention wane, you are setting your dog up for failure. Keep it short and they will have a better chance at success.

If you work with your dog without having walked, played with or in general exercised the dog, you are sending him down the road to failure.

If you work with your dog when he is eager to learn, and a little hungry (if you treat train), you will set your dog up for success.

If you are attempting potty training and trying to keep the dog on your schedule, you are setting up the dog for failure.

If you are learning about your dog’s metabolism and routine and adjusting your schedule to the dog’s, then you are heading toward success.

If you punish the dog for indiscretions with harshness, you will fail.

If you reward her for good behavior, she will, not surprisingly, have more success.

If he is not responding to the way you are doing your lesson, change it rather than continuing to force it. Instead of getting frustrated with your dog when he just doesn’t get it, ask yourself if the time of day is conducive to work, is it too distracting, is the place or surface comfortable for the dog?

If your dog is not paying attention to your lesson, try again later or change the place. If your dog ceases to be interested in treats you are using, go to higher value treat, something smelly and different.

Expectations are often the primary cause for disappointments owners have with their dogs.

Puppies do nip and bite; it is a normal part of puppyhood. Older dogs and puppies chew things, which is also normal behavior, especially with teething. Later, since dogs need to keep their mouths busy, their bodies exercised and minds challenged and entertained, they continue to chew.

Puppies need months to potty train. The difference between frustration for you and confusion for your dog, and the step-by-step teaching your dog down the correct path is your ability to solve issues.

Clearly, dogs are not all the same, so comparisons to your other dogs won’t help the situation. Dogs, especially rescues, might come with issues you were not prepared for. The last puppy rearing you did might have been decades ago and you might not even remember how you managed to get that last pup trained!

Be patient, be consistent and, most importantly, keep a sense of humor. If you need help, contact a dog trainer.

A learning process that eventually turns puppies into dogs and the special companion you have longed for, rather than the dog you continually make excuses for, begins during the first few months of ownership.

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training. AlphaDogTrainingAcademy@gmail.com