Teach Your Puppy These Five Fundamental Commands


To lay a solid foundation for your puppy's training journey, it's crucial to establish clear expectations. This sense of understanding fosters a sense of security in puppies, empowering them to confidently work towards meeting future goals.

Build Training on Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement forms the cornerstone of effective training, whether for dogs or people. It involves rewarding desired behaviors, akin to receiving a paycheck for a job well done. The goal isn't to bribe but to use rewards that your dog values.

Avoid punitive measures like leash corrections or yelling, as these can confuse and unsettle your dog. Patience is key, considering that dogs, like young children, need time to grasp new concepts.

Reinforcement can be varied, from high-value treats to praise or playtime. Begin training with simple exercises as early as 8 weeks old, keeping sessions short and ending positively. If your puppy struggles, revert to known commands and always offer ample praise and rewards for success. Remember, a bored or frustrated puppy hinders progress.

Related Article: Why use positive reinforcement in training?

How to Train Your Dog to Sit

There are two methods to teach your puppy the "sit" command:

  1. Capturing:

    • Stand in front of your puppy with treats.
    • Wait for them to naturally sit, then reward with a treat and praise.
    • Encourage them to stand again and repeat the process, rewarding each sit.
    • Gradually introduce the verbal cue "sit" as they begin to sit.
  2. Luring:

    • Get down in front of your puppy with a treat as a lure.
    • Hold the treat in front of their nose, then lift it slowly above their head.
    • As they follow the treat and sit, reward them.
    • Repeat with the food lure a few times, then switch to an empty hand while still rewarding.
    • Introduce the verbal cue "sit" alongside the hand signal once they understand.

Avoid physically forcing your puppy into a sit position, as this may confuse or distress them.

How to Train Your Dog to Lie Down

Teaching your dog to "lie down" follows a similar approach to teaching "sit."

  1. Capturing:

    • Wait for your dog to naturally lie down, preferably in a quiet, familiar space.
    • Reward the behavior with a treat.
    • Encourage them to stand back up, then wait for them to lie down again.
    • Introduce the verbal cue "down" as they consistently lie down.
  2. Luring:

    • Hold a treat in your hand and guide your dog's nose to the floor.
    • Reward when their elbows touch the floor.
    • Gradually switch to an empty hand while still rewarding.
    • Introduce the verbal cue "down" alongside the hand signal.

Avoid using force to position your dog into a down posture, as this can cause confusion or distress.

More on capturing and luring:

How to Train Your Dog to Stay

Teaching your puppy to "stay" involves teaching them to remain seated until given a release cue, gradually increasing duration and distance.

  1. Teach the release word by tossing a treat and saying your chosen word as they move to retrieve it.
  2. Practice sitting and rewarding your dog for remaining seated before giving the release cue.
  3. Gradually increase the time between treats, using a consistent release word.
  4. Start adding distance by stepping back while saying "stay" and rewarding them for staying put.
  5. Progress in small increments, ensuring success before advancing further.
  6. Increase distance gradually, focusing on short, successful training sessions.

Remember, training goals are achieved gradually, so be patient and focus on one aspect at a time. Short, successful sessions are key to solidifying the training.

Training Your Dog to Come When Called

Start training your dog to come when called in a quiet indoor area:

  1. Say your dog's name or "come" and reward them with a treat, regardless of their response.
  2. Drop a treat near you, then call their name again when they finish eating to reinforce the connection.
  3. Gradually increase distance and movement, making the game fun by encouraging chase.
  4. Reward your dog enthusiastically when they come to you, using praise, treats, or play.
  5. Progress to longer distances and new locations, using a long leash outdoors for safety.

When your dog comes to you, avoid grabbing them, especially if they're timid. Instead, kneel sideways and offer treats as you reach for their collar.

Never call your dog to punish, as this can create negative associations. Always reward heavily for responding to their name, reinforcing positive behavior.

Teaching Loose-Leash Walking for Dogs

In obedience training, "heel" denotes walking on your left with a loose leash. For puppies, the aim is polite walking without pulling, often using cues like "let's go" or "forward."

Consistency is key; always use the same cue and position. Whether left or right, stick to one side to avoid confusion.

  1. Ensure your puppy is comfortable with the leash by rewarding them with treats each time it's put on.
  2. Stand next to your puppy, rewarding them for standing or sitting by your side.
  3. Encourage them to follow with treats as you take a step forward.
  4. Maintain treat rewards at your knee or hip level as you walk.
  5. If they move ahead, turn and call them back, rewarding them before continuing.
  6. Gradually space out treats to reinforce walking by your side.
  7. Allow time for sniffing, then use a happy cue like "Let's go!" to resume walking together.

With patience and consistency, your dog will happily walk by your side on a loose leash.


Essential Tips for Puppy Training

Ensure training sessions are brief and enjoyable, concluding each on a positive tone. If your puppy seems challenged or resistant, reassess the pace of training and the value of rewards. Adjust accordingly; simplify steps or increase rewards as needed.

Mastering the "Basic 5" cues establishes a solid groundwork for future training endeavors. With dedication and enjoyment in training, you and your puppy could potentially excel and even become obedience champions in the future!


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