Just got yourself a new pup? Congratulations! Whether this is your first puppy or the fourth, the feeling is always fantastic. As you plan to have an excellent relationship with a newfound K9 friend, you will have to teach him/her a few fundamental house rules right off the bat. Yes, she/he needs to learn what is expected of them as soon as they get home. Furthermore, good behavior instilled at an early age means an exceptional relationship with your puppy even when he/she grows old.
When is it right to start training your young dog?
Contrary to popular belief, puppies start learning from the day they are born. They begin by learning how to move around while specific breeds might even learn to socialize right off the bat. In this regard, it is advisable to start training your dog as soon as they open their eyes. Although young pups have a very short attention span, they can be able to grab and remember simple commands such as sit and stay. Therefore, at seven weeks old, you can start training your puppy the essential commands.
Professional trainers often delay the training process as most only accept puppies that are six months and older. At six months, your puppy will have already wasted prime learning time keeping in mind that the younger they are, the more interested they are in learning new things. Furthermore, at six months, you might want to start by undoing all the unwanted behaviors that the dog had collected for the six months. You know the saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Basic dog training commands
Here are the essential commands that you can teach your young dog. These basic commands do not only lay a foundation for good behavior but also help in controlling your dog and at times getting it out of harm’s way.
Come should be the first command that you train your young dog because it controls all kinds of situations before they escalate further. For instance, if your dog runs off at the park, commanding it to come reduces the chances of him/her getting into trouble. You can also use the come command to restrict him/her from attacking other animals or people. The same command can be used to save his/her life. For instance, you can recall your dog when you see him/her running towards an oncoming car.
To teach your dog to come to you, put a leash on him/her and take her to a secure place. Go down to his/her level so that she/he feels more comfortable communicating with you. While gently pulling the leash towards you, tell your dog to come. It doesn’t matter what language you use or hand signal as at this age, your dog doesn’t know the meaning of any words or actions. When he/she comes to you, make sure you reward them. You can use whatever your dog likes and also applaud him/her. Repeat the cycle until your dog is able to walk towards you without pulling the leash. Once you are confident your dog understands the command, take off the leash in an enclosed safe area and try to command him/her.
Remember to reward your dog every time they obey the command. However, with time, minimize the rewards so that the dog can learn that they should obey even without being rewarded. You can also change the distance. Whatever happens, work to ensure that the dog learns that the command should be obeyed immediately otherwise it might not be effective in a dangerous situation.
One of the easiest commands to teach a young dog since dogs already know how to sit. Just like come, this command will help you to control your dog when you suspect they are doing something fishy. When a dog is sitting, they can’t jump, roll, bite or run which means you ensure that the dog can’t harm anybody or himself/herself.
Since dogs can sit naturally without being commanded, all you need to do here is to associate the command with the action. Use your dog’s favorite treat while they are standing. Raise it above their nose and gently push it away from you. Naturally, the dog will follow using the snout forcing it to sit. Once in the sitting position, mention the word you want it to associate with sitting, give them the treat and applaud them. Repeat this until your dog is able to do it without the reward.
Drop it/leave it
You obviously don’t want your dog chewing on everything in your house or eating anything they find along the way. In this regard, this command is imperative as it does not only restrict your dog from chewing or destroying items, but also from attacking other people or animals. There are two tricks to do this.
First, you can have your dog’s favorite treat on both hands but only show him/her one hand. Make sure they understand what’s inside the hand. Your dog will reach out for the treat in your hand, command them to leave it. Let him/her struggle as you repeat the command until he/she leaves the hand, sits calmly and looks at you. At this point, reward and applaud them. Repeat until your dog can leave your hand instantly after you command him/her.
The other method is using your dog’s favorite toy and commanding it to drop it while hiding one of his/her favorite treats. Once the dog drops the toy, reward him/her. In this way, the dog learns to obey the command anticipating for a reward. Gradually withdraw the reward so that he/she understands that the reward is not mandatory.
These are just some of the essential commands that you can teach your dog. Stay, okay, lay down, rollover, no, settle down, stand, heel and out are also common commands that some people might find essential. However, once your dog has learned the commands mentioned above, you can take them to the next level. Remember, dog training just like learning is an endless endeavor.