Puppy training may seem impossible at first, but once you know how to do it, training really does work. If you are having trouble training your puppy, consider its age, as generally, puppies don’t begin training until around 6 months old.
While every puppy is different and training is a lifelong journey, you should expect to spend at least 4 to 6 months for the initial training of your puppy. The amount of time this takes really is up to you and how much you are trying to train.
For new pet owners, training may seem somewhat unnecessary past potty training. However, it really is important to train for your puppy’s future socialization with both people and other dogs.
Household etiquette commands such as “sit”, “down” and “hush” are essential for any time you introduce your puppy to new people. On the other hand, “stay”, “come”, “drop it” and “leave it” are crucial for your puppy’s safety and to avoid so many possible dangerous situations.
Overall puppy training is essential and while it may seem ineffective sometimes, once you know the training formula you can train your puppy to respond to almost any command.
The formula and essential tools for puppy training
No matter what command you are trying to train, positive reinforcement, rewards and repetition really is the key formula.
Every single command on this list (except for command 11) follows a pretty simple reward-based system, which requires tools such as treats and toys to accomplish.
When it comes to toys, this really depends on your puppy’s preferences and so it is up to you to test out different ones to find out what they gravitate towards.
With treats, there are a lot more options but for training purposes, you generally want to stick with smaller ones around the size of a blueberry. This way you can quickly reward your puppy as they learn, without filling its belly up or having to wait for them to finish the snack.
If you are having trouble finding a treat your puppy loves, it is actually quite simple to make your own. Most recipes tend to be peanut butter-based as almost all dogs love it. However, if your puppy tends to enjoy a certain food more find a recipe with it, as it will certainly generate better results.
Overall, try and stick to treats that can be eaten quickly, so avoid bones or jerky’s that some puppies would rather carry off somewhere else to enjoy.
The very first command you should teach your puppy at the beginning of obedience training isn’t really a command at all, but its name. Having your puppy know its name will help you get its attention while you are trying to train the other commands on this list.
Training your puppy to know its name is also an easy place to start as you can teach them passively throughout your day. Just wait until your puppy isn’t paying attention to you and then get its attention by saying its name. You want your puppy’s name to be associated with positivity so they will happily respond to it. Say it assertively but cheerfully, and reward them with a treat when they respond to it.
Sit is a fairly easy and extremely important command to teach any puppy. If you are on a walk and your puppy starts to pull, or they jump on you when you walk in, sit is a pretty useful command to use to get them to settle down.
To teach sit, hold a puppy treat close to your puppy’s nose but just out of reach. Most dogs’ natural reaction in this situation is to sit since it will lift its head higher up. Say the word sit while you are giving them the treat after they have sat down.
Once your puppy understands sit, you can take it a step forward and teach them to stay. This command is a bit harder to teach than sit but it really makes all the difference between a puppy and a well-trained dog.
You can teach this command by asking your puppy to sit, offering them a treat close to its nose, and then slowly backing away. When they move to come and get the treat, say no and restart. Practice this command several times a day, and make sure to reward them the treat every single time your puppy stays and waits.
“Heel” is a pretty important puppy training command to teach alongside leash training to make walks safer and more enjoyable for both of you.
Every time you go on a walk, take an opportunity to teach “heel” and as with any training, repetition is a key factor.
To teach “heel”, keep the treat in one hand (try and use the same hand every time for this) and walk a few steps with your puppy on the leash. Then, as long as your puppy stays by your side, you can ask them to sit and give them the treat. Slowly you can start taking more steps and transition into using your puppy’s name and the word heel.
Remember “heel” is about your puppy staying by your side and not pulling. Once they start to know the word, offer them a treat and use the command when they stay by your side, sitting isn’t really necessary.
Come is a pretty easy command to teach, however, it does take some time for puppies to be able to associate the word with the action. You can start by first putting a leash on your puppy (a longer leash works well for this) asking them to come towards you and gently prodding with the leash.
If your puppy is a bit clingy, you may have to throw a treat so that you have a reason to ask them to come. As soon as your puppy comes to you, give him a treat and lots of love. Eventually, try taking your puppy off the leash and calling for them to come, with time they will figure it out so just be patient and understanding.
6. Drop it
Drop it is a pretty essential command for your puppy to know for its safety in case they ever pick up something dangerous. It will also make a game of fetch a lot more fun for the two of you.
To teach “drop it,” keep two toys that your puppy enjoys playing with nearby, and start by playing with just one of them. When they seem to be enjoying the first toy, prompt them with the second one so that your puppy will be provoked to drop the toy in its mouth. As soon as the toy is dropped, enforce the command “drop it” and offer the second toy as a reward.
7. Leave it
A command quite similar to “drop it”, is “leave it”, which can be effective to prevent your puppy from picking up the object they shouldn’t have in its mouth before it happens.
A great way to teach “leave it” is to use a treat that your dog doesn’t really like. Celery is often used as dogs don’t generally seem to love it, but some do so you may have to try a few foods to get it right, just make sure the food is safe for your puppy.
Drop the piece of food on the floor and say the words “leave it” and then cover the food with your foot or hand. You can slowly start introducing more appetizing treats as they get the hang of it. Eventually, you can disassociate the command from food when you notice the puppy going for anything it shouldn’t have in its mouth.
While “bring it” may not seem as crucial of a command as some of the ones on this list, it is pretty important to help you if your puppy runs with something it shouldn’t have. This is another command you can teach during playtime.
While playing, encourage your puppy to come nearer to you with the toy by saying the words “bring it”, as soon as he comes, tell him to “drop it” and offer him a treat. Continue to repeat these steps until your puppy will start to bring the toy to you without too much prompting.
When it comes to social etiquette and having people over, “down” is a pretty important command to include in your puppy training regiment.
Even if you love it when your puppy jumps up to greet you, it is safer for everyone if you teach your puppy the “down” command so that it knows when it is appropriate to jump up.
To teach this command, have your puppy sit with a treat and then “lure” them down to the ground with a treat. Try and train the command every time your puppy jumps at you when you walk in the door.
Another important command to include in your puppy training plan is “hush” or “quiet.” This is one of the more difficult ones to teach since it isn’t exactly something you can plan for. When you do hear your puppy barking incessantly at something unnecessary, gently hold your puppy’s mouth shut and say “shush” if they have stopped, offer them a treat. Just remember, do not silence your puppy every time they bark as barking is an important communication tool for dogs.
“No” is an essential command that can replace so many of the other commands on this list, but happens to be trained a bit differently than the others. Your puppy has naturally attentive instincts and can pick up on your mood pretty well, so when you are trying to train the word “no” take advantage of that.
Introduce “no” when you see fit, but do not overdo it. Do not get angry, but try and change your tone and facial expression to one that is more assertive. The reason “no” is taught a bit differently than the other commands on this list is because you do not want to offer treats or praise for good behaviour as it will only be confusing.
Once you have mastered the art of puppy training, you can move past the essential commands into more complicated commands. Bell training, where a puppy touches a bell with its nose to indicate when it wants to go outside, is really impressive but truly not that out of reach.
For these more complicated tricks, you just want to split them up into the basic commands necessary. For bell training, the first command would be to touch the bell, which you can indicate by using a command such as “paw” or simply picking up your puppy’s paw to press the bell while saying “touch” or “bell”.
As with every puppy training tip on this list, you want to reward with a treat every time they get it right. Then you want to associate the act with going outdoors so every time they press the bell, bring them outdoors.
Complicated commands are quite simple to teach if you can figure out how to break it into a series of smaller commands.
These commands can be taught using the same formula of introducing the action, saying the command, rewarding, and repeating. Once strung all together they form a complicated command.
If you have been having trouble with puppy training, these tips will certainly help you teach everything, from the most essential commands to some more complicated ones.
Though every command on this list is crucial to teach your puppy, they really are quite simple to teach if you are patient and consistent.
Puppy training really is necessary for you and your puppy’s safety and happiness, so don’t give up if it isn’t coming easy. If you are still having trouble, remember every puppy really takes to training differently and some require more attention, repetition, and time to learn. That being said, every puppy, no matter how long it takes, can learn any command, even ringing a bell when they want to go potty!