When to start training your puppy + Essential skills for all dogs

Author: Neil Smith   Date Posted:14 February 2018 

Getting a new puppy is exciting but it's important to consider training them simple commands from a young age. Read more to learn how to teach your puppy basic commands.

When should you start training your puppy?

When your family gets a new puppy, as exciting as it is, you need to seriously think about training. Puppies can be taught basic commands from as young as 8 weeks old and it's is not something you can leave to the last minute or consider as an afterthought otherwise you will experience bad behaviour. In saying that, there’s no such thing as a bad dog – just dogs that haven’t been given the opportunity to learn the correct behaviours.

 

So why is dog training so important?

Dogs crave discipline and order. Without this order you cannot expect a dog to behave in the way you want as their natural instincts is to look for a leader (which should be you). If they can’t find a leader, they will assume the role. Getting in early with training your dog means you are creating a structured environment that shows them who is the leader of the pack.

 

Essential commands for dogs

When you think about training your dog, the first thing you think of is having a treat on hand. Treats are a great way to teach your dog a command however it's important to ensure that they're not only doing the command for the treat. You want your dog to listen to you.

Before training, remember to:

  • Be patient
  • Be consistent
  • Find a safe, quiet place with little distractions
  • Show your dog what you want them to do. Don't force them to do a command.
  • Practice at home first and then take the commands to a public setting
  • Reward your dog with affection when they are completing the command
  • Teach your dog a new command as soon as they learn a command you've been working on

With that said, here are the top 5 essential commands:

 
1. Sit

This is the most basic command and is the easiest to teach.

  1. Hold a small treat at your dogs nose
  2. Move your hand up and towards the top of their head. This will cause your dog's bottom to move towards the floor
  3. Once he is sitting, make a "Number 1" gesture with your hands and say "sit" firmly
  4. Give your dog the treat and praise him/her with affection

Repeat this training process a couple of times a day, everyday, until you're confident that your dog has mastered the sit command. Use this command before feeding time, walks, crossing the road and when they're getting a bit too excited.

 
2. Stay

Before teaching your dog the stay command, make sure they understand the "sit" command.

  1. Instruct your dog to sit
  2. Hold your hand in front of you and make a gesture - most common are an open, flat palm or 'number one'.
  3. Firmly say "Stay"
  4. Take a couple of steps back and stand still for a few seconds. Repeat "Stay".
  5. If your dog remains sitting, walk up to them and praise them with a treat and affection
  6. Repeat these steps and slowly increase the distance between you and your dog - see how far you can get!

This one can be tricky for puppies and high-energy dogs. Do not be discouraged if your dog takes a while to learn this command, patience is key as this is an exercise of teaching your dog self-control.

 
3. Come

This training command is essential for situations where your dog is off lead. The last thing you want is for your dog to be out of your control at the dog park, beach, camping grounds or even at the front of your house!

  1. Grab a leash and collar and put it on your dog
  2. Kneel down to your dog's level and say "come" with confidence while gently tugging on the leash
  3. When your dog reaches you, praise them with a treat and affection
  4. Repeat these steps until your dog comes to you when you say "come" without tugging the leash
  5. Once your dog understands the command, remove the leash and practice the training again in a safe area
  6. Like the stay command, slowly increase the distance between you and your dog - see how far away you can get!

 
4. Leave it

This command may take a little longer for your dog to master because you're distracting their train of thought however, when accomplished successfully, the leave it command will be extremely useful in situations where your dog may cause trouble. 

  1. Hold a treat in both of your hands
  2. Show your dog one of your hands (with a closed fist and treat inside) and say "Leave It"
  3. Naturally, your dog will sniff, paw, lick, bite and bark to grab the treat in your hand - Ignore all of this behaviour
  4. When they stop and relax, repeat "Leave It" and give your dog the treat from your other hand
  5. Repeat this until your dog relaxes immediately after the first "Leave It".
  6. Next, only praise your dog when they move away from the treat in your fist and look up at you

Once you've achieved this, you can place treats on the floor and teach them to leave it.

 
5. Down

'Down' can be a challenging command because it puts the dog in a passive position. Persistence is key.

  1. Hold a treat in your hand and instruct your dog to sit
  2. Hold the treat at your dog's nose and slowly move your hand down and along the floor. Your dog should follow the treat with the tip of their nose
  3. When your dog lowers to the lay position, say "Down" and make a gesture with your hand to command 'down'.
  4. Praise your dog with a treat and affection
  5. Repeat this until your dog learns to lay when you say "Down" and display a simple hand gesture.

Do not be discouraged if your dog doesn't pick it up on the first go, remain calm and be consistent with training. Make sure to praise your dog with affection when they complete the command!

 

If you’re finding dog training to be difficult or you’ve run into a situation where the dog has adopted negative behaviours such as pulling washing off the line, stealing food off the bench, digging up the yard etc. there are plenty of products on our website that can help adjust those behaviours. If you'd like to find out more information about our remote trainers, feel free to call one of our product experts on 1300 668 931. To see our remote training collar range, click here.