Unless you're planning to join the circus, you really don't need your dog to jump through flaming hoops, walk on its hind legs or even roll over on command.
But there are some essentials that are really, really important and the sooner you start on this training, the better it is all round.
You'll be happier and so will your new puppy.
The essentials are:
- Don't pee or poop inside the house
- Come when you're called - every time and right now
- Don't jump up on people
- Don't bite
- Sit on command
- Stay on command
- Walk alongside, both on and off the leash
- Don't strain against the leash.
- Leave (don't pick up that thing or drop it if you already have). Note that "drop" means go from sitting to lying down but I don't regard it as an essential.
A dog that does these things is a happy dog with a happy owner.
Few dogs do. It's the owners fault for not providing adequate guidance and training.
It starts with the puppy.
Don't Pee or Poop Inside the House
Toilet training should start as soon as you bring your puppy home. Both male and female puppies urinate in the same way (by squatting) and are trained in exactly the same way.
Toilet training is largely about anticipation. They should be given the opportunity to relieve themselves at least every two hours. You can usually tell when a puppy needs to go because they will look around anxiously, walk in circles and start sniffing in suitable corners looking for a place. You should immediately carry your pet outside. It's normal that the act of picking them up may precipitate urination. It's a reflex and should be ignored.
Whatever the weather, puppies should be taken outside after they have woken up, or had something to drink or eat. Praise them when they go, but ignore them when they fail. If you do find a puddle inside, just clean and disinfect it so that its scent doesn't tell them it's the place to go. Never, ever tell them off or punish them. They will have no idea way and just be upset and confused.
Always reward good behavior. The reward can be a small treat, but most of the time just effusive praise. Dogs love to be praised. And use your puppy's name frequently so that he or she learns to recognize it.
Come When You're Called
First of all, always use the same format for commands. This format is:
Dog's Name (pause) Command
For example, Millie... Come.
The purpose is firstly to get the dog's attention so that it is actually listening to you when you then give the command.
Training your puppy to come when called is a basic command that all dogs should learn. It not only promotes polite behavior, but (along with "stay") it can also save your puppy’s life. Curious puppies get into trouble without constant supervision. Even when you are watching, a distraction across the road can cause your pup to run into oncoming traffic before you can stop it.
Never chase your pup when it doesn't come. Four legs are faster than two. It's a race you can't win but worse, you'll be teaching your pup this great game to play instead of coming when it's called.
Always use a treat that your puppy loves. Have someone hold the puppy still while you call its name and hold up the treat so that it has the pup's attention. Your helper lets the pup go as soon as you call "Come". The pup will run to you to get its reward and you've started the habit.
Don't always use the treat, but always give praise.
Practice the “come” command in this way once or twice a day for a week and you will have established a lifetime habit. One that will have other dog owners saying "I wish my dog was obedient like yours."
Once your puppy understands what “come” means and routinely obeys without distractions, it's time to challenge their recall ability. Try calling it away from interesting pastimes like chasing a butterfly or whatever has its attention. Practice “come” in new locations—not just in the living room, but also outside in the yard or at someone else's house.
Any time your puppy comes to you, no matter how long it takes, be sure to praise and reward. Above all, you want the puppy to have only positive associations so it will never fear to return to you. Never, ever, ever punish a dog after it comes to you, even if you had to yell the command until you are hoarse.
More Puppy Training Advice
I'll cover more puppy training advice in the next article More Puppy Training Advice
In particular, more about how to implement the 9 essential commands.