It’s never too early to practice these five essential commands with your new puppy.
When a new puppy comes bounding into your life, training is one of first and best ways to bond with each other. It helps you establish your position as pack leader while giving your fluffy friend a healthy dose of confidence. There are tons of fun tricks your dog can learn over time, but these five commands are the first your pup should master.
Sit is easy for most dogs to learn, so it’s a great place to start.
Start by holding a treat up to your dog’s nose.
Move your hand up, allowing his head to follow the treat and causing his bottom to lower. Some dogs will back up rather than sit. In this case, use your other hand to gently guide his rump to the floor.
As soon as he’s sitting, say “Sit,” and reward him with the treat and affection.
The best way to practice this command is to work it into your dog’s daily routine. Try it before meals, walks, or any other time you want your dog to be calm.
Once your dog masters the Sit command, Stay is a perfect next step.
Start by asking your dog to “Sit.”
Open your palm to make a “stop” gesture with your hand and say “Stay.”
Take a few steps back. Reward him with a treat and affection if he stays—even just for a few seconds!
Gradually increase the number of steps you take before rewarding him with a treat.
Once your dog starts getting the hang of “Stay,” you’ll want to decide on a release word to signal to your dog that he can move again—words like “Okay” or “Go” are good options!
“Stay” can be tricky for young puppies or high energy dogs—it takes a lot of self-control for an excited dog to sit still. So be patient and keep your training sessions short.
Come is an essential command for keeping your dog safe and out of trouble, especially outdoors! But for training purposes, you’ll want to practice indoors in a quiet area.
Start with your dog on a leash.
Get down to your dog’s level and say “come” as your gently pull him towards you with the leash.
When he gets to you, reward him with lots of love and a treat.
Once your dog has mastered the command with a leash, take the leash off and continue to practice indoors without it. Don’t be tempted to grab your dog as he gets closer—this will only confuse him. Let him take his time and never scold for trotting over too slowly.
Training should always be fun for your pup, so make sure to say the command in a bright, happy tone. Never use the Come command to punish your dog—this will just teach him to avoid you!
Teaching your dog the Down command can be tricky because it’s a submissive posture. Keeping your training sessions light and positive will help your dog master this command, especially if he’s on the fearful or anxious side.
Start with a treat that smells good enough to get your puppy pumped. Hold the treat in your closed fist and hold it up to your dog’s snout.
When he goes to sniff the treat, move your hand down towards the floor. Your dog should follow your hand. This is called a “lure.”
Continue your lure by sliding your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head into the down position. (Your treat hand should ultimately make the shape of an “L”: moving down to the floor and then out and away from your dog along the floor.)
Once he’s in the down position, say “Down,” and give him the treat!
If your dog tries to sit up or lunges towards your hand, tell him “no,” and take the treat away. Never push your dog into this position—let him get there on his own with you encouraging him every step of the way.
Leave It is an important command for curious dogs with a penchant for sidewalk sampling unsavory or even dangerous objects.The goal of Leave It is to teach your dog that he’ll get something even more delicious for ignoring the other.
Start with a treat in both of your closed fists. One treat should be just okay. The other treat should be something your pup goes gaga for.
Show him the fist with the “just okay” treat inside and say, “Leave it.”
Let your pup go nuts over it. Ignore every lick, sniff and bark.
Once he gives up, reward him with the tastier treat from the other hand.
Keep this up until your dog moves away from the first fist as soon as you say “Leave it.”
Once he’s consistently moving away from the first treat, try it again—But only give your dog the treat after he moves away from the first treat and looks up at you. This is called “checking in.”
Once your dog nails the above, you can make it a little more challenging.
Rather than keeping the “just okay” treat in your fist, place it on the floor. Cover it with your hand and say “leave it.” Once your dog checks in with you, pick the first treat up and reward him with the tastier treat.
When he’s got this down, try it without covering the treat with your hand.
Take your time and give your dog plenty of love between attempts!
With just these five commands, you can keep your dog safe and give him a solid foundation in training that will make teaching more complex tricks and commands much easier.
The best way to make these commands stick is to make them a part of your everyday routine. Practice before meals, during walks, and as part of playtime. Your dog will learn to love training if it’s just another aspect of the activities he already enjoys!
No matter what, training should be positive for both of you—so remember to keep things fun and to shower your goober with gobs of love and affection.