Dogs are fast learners. You can begin teaching simple commands for everyday use by employing vocal instruction, treats or other methods like Clicker Training. These essential training techniques will ensure the overall well being of your pup .
Bringing home a puppy is such a joy. But most pet parents give up training their dogs or some don’t start at all because the task of training seems so daunting. You don’t need to teach your puppy a bag full of tricks and commands for competitions or shows. Some simple commands, early housebreaking training and teaching your dog to leash walk are the only things for your everyday needs. Rest all is a bonus.
The following basic commands can be easily taught using verbal instructions and using healthy treats as rewards.
Sit: This is one command puppies learn the fastest. It requires hardly any effort on your part. To begin, just put your hands gently on his haunches as you command him to sit. And he will know what you mean by the word ‘Sit’. Else, stand up straight in front of your dog and hold a treat in front of his nose. As he will try to grab the treat with his mouth, his rear would go down and he will ‘Sit.’ Once he sits, give him the treat.
Stay: Sometimes, you want your dog to stay where he is. Here, ‘Stay’ command comes into play. When your dog is in the ‘Sit’ position, stand on his left, facing the same direction he is looking. Hold his collar and give the ‘Stay’ command, with your plam over his head. Let him stay in the position for some time. Then, give him a pat or a treat. Important point to remember is that when you walk away from your dog, use the right foot so that he does not get confused and starts walking with you.
Down: This is another but stronger form of ‘Stay.’ When your dog is in the ‘Sit’ position, give the ‘Down’ command, with a treat in your hand. Lower the treat enough that the dog’s elbows touch the ground. Release the treat. Repeat until he learns to go on a ‘Down’ position on a command.
Come: Your puppy should come to you when called. Place a treat near your feet and give the ‘Come’ command followed by the name of the puppy. When your pooch reaches you, praise him and let him have the treat. Repeat this command several times in a day.
Heel: This helps you and your dog have a pleasant walk when your puppy knows that to heel means to walk to your left without pulling on his leash. To teach the ‘Heel’ command, make your dog ‘Sit’ beside you on your left, with his leash in your hand. Give the ‘Heel’ command while putting your left foot forward. If he walks past you, tug his leash gently and repeat the ‘Heel’ command.
Once he learns these commands, you can also teach him the following:
No: Teaching your puppy the meaning of ‘No’ can be a life-saver. It can substitute for ‘Drop’ or ‘Away’ commands. If your pooch is about to put something in his mouth that can be toxic or jump on a guest, a simple ‘No’ from you should make your puppy to stop doing whatever it is that you want him to stop doing. This command is worth a thousand tricks.
Wait: This comes in useful when you need your dog to ‘Wait’ while you need your pet to pause or delay any activity, or for any other reason. The fastest way to teach your puppy to ‘Wait’ is his feeding time. Simply ask him to wait while you put food in his feeding bowl, and once done, say okay to signal him to know that it’s now okay to start eating the food he is salivating for. This leads us to the ‘Okay’ command.
Okay: This lets your dogs know that it’s ‘Okay’ to start doing whatever you asked him not to. It’s fairly simple but quite useful and easily taught to a puppy if used every day in various situations.
Stand: This one comes in handy if your playful puppy becomes a lazy adult.
Out: Useful for house-breaking training.
Off: A substitute for ‘No’ command when your dog tries to jump or goes into areas of the house forbidden to him.
You can teach him any command that you feel your puppy needs to learn. Remember to reward your dog with praise words like ‘good boy’ (or ‘good girl’) followed by the puppy’s name or with healthy treats. This teaches them positive reinforcement. It is also imperative that you use each command word in various situations for your puppy to learn it effectively.
Housebreaking… not to worry!
Puppies are adorable and cuddly and it’s important to teach them where to go about their business. With some efforts on your part, your puppy can be housebroken within weeks and even days. Yes, it is possible if you follow certain steps, and follow them regularly.
- Schedule a fixed time for feeding and walking your puppy so that he knows his routine.
- Take your puppy outside immediately upon waking up or just after you feed him.
- If you have a garden or a backyard that can be used by your puppy for his daily breaks, then fix a spot for him by putting some wood shavings or newspapers on the designated area and take your puppy to that spot after his feeding or first thing in the morning. After a few days, your puppy will know his potty area.
- Keep your calm if your puppy has accidents! if accidents happen at least a few times, immediately take your pooch outside to his potty area so that he understands not to mess indoors.
- In the cases of messy indoors, immediately clean the affected area as puppies associate the smells of their urine or faeces to mark their own areas, and will mostly use the very same space to mess with the next time!
- The time your puppy will take to be housebroken totally depends on your efforts. But always be patient. They really do learn fast.
Teaching safe leash-walking…
- The first step here involves getting your puppy familiar with his collar. Put a collar on him as soon as you bring your puppy home. A light weight and soft collar is ideal to begin with.
- Distract him or use the ‘No’ command when your puppy tries to dislodge or bite the collar.
- When your puppy is comfortable wearing the collar, then it is time to introduce the leash. The puppy will no doubt will try to bite the leash too, so make sure it’s made of material that is not harmful to him. It is better not to buy too expensive ones or leather ones as your puppy’s first leash.
- Once your puppy is familiar with the leash, walk him around the house in regular intervals.
- Praise your puppy when he walks alongside you on a loose leash. Stop walking when he yanks or pulls.
- If your puppy sits while walking, just stop and use the ‘Come’ or ‘Stand’ or ‘Walk’ commands to help him resume the walk.
- Once the puppy is comfortable with leash walking, introduce the ‘Heel’ command. ‘Heel’ means your dog walks alongside you and not ahead of you pulling and yanking. This not only ensures stress-free walks, this is also a nice practice for the safety of your dog. Ask your puppy to heel when he tries to walk ahead of you. If he doesn’t pay heed, stop walking immediately. This will help your dog understand what not to do if he wishes to continue on his walks.
Training a puppy is not a difficult job. The early you start, the faster your dog learns. Dogs actually enjoy training sessions. For them it’s more quality time they are spending with you. And puppies have amazing learning capabilities. So, use this to your advantage and introduce fun ways to teach your pup what you need him to learn. Get creative. There are no hard and fast rules. Teach him the way it best works for you and your darling pup.
(Rakhee Maloo works as freelance writer and is extremely passionate about animal welfare.)