If the thought of puppy obedience training has you quivering in your boots, fear not. The truth is, the younger the dog the better when it comes to puppy training, says Annie Angell, CPDT-KA and co-owner of My Two Dogs, Inc. “A puppy is a blank slate, and it’s up to the owner to help shape the puppy into a well-mannered, social dog,” she said. “It just takes a plan, time, treats the puppy likes (try Wellness Soft Puppy Bites Lamb & Salmon Recipe Dog Treats if you’re looking for something tasty) and a sense of humor.”
Besides the fact that training a puppy will help you maintain control, Angell says that training a puppy is also a great way to build a bond. “It’s a fun way to spend time with your dog as you both learn a few new skills,” she said. “Plus, everyone loves to show off how smart their dog is!”
Products like the Starmark Pro-Training Clicker Dog Training Aid and Four Paws Cotton Web Training Dog Lead can help, but we also tapped Angell for some expert puppy training tips to help you get started. Some of the easiest things to start with when it comes to training a puppy include sit, stay and come. “All of these behaviors will help the puppy learn how to deal with new people, the outside world, and learn how to calm down,” said Angell.
Here are some easy puppy training tips—plus a bonus to help you start potty training that new pup, as well.
The command: Sit
To Teach It: Show your puppy a treat that you are holding in your fingers. (If your puppy loves the taste of pork or bacon, try Zuke’s Puppy Naturals Pork & Bacon Recipe Dog Treats.) Place a treat above her nose and make an imaginary line going over her head. When you do this, your dog should automatically put her backside down on the floor as she follows it. “When her back hits the floor, give her the treat and tell her she’s a good girl,” says Angell. “Also, when her backside hits the floor, quickly add the word ‘sit.’”
The command: Stay
To Teach It: Stay can be taught in two forms—for duration and for distance. For duration, start with your puppy in the sit position and ask her to stay. Try to keep her there for 10-15 seconds, and have her make eye contact with you the entire time. “When you’re ready, release her by saying ‘okay,’ tell her she’s a good girl and reward her,” says Angell. (For salmon or lamb lovers, consider using Wellness Soft Puppy Bites Lamb & Salmon Recipe Dog Treats as puppy obedience training bait.) From there you can slowly increase the amount of time you have her in the stay. If she breaks it before you want her to, say nothing, move a few feet away and try again. “You always want to release her before she releases herself,” says Angell.
To add distance to your stay command, put your pup in the sit position and ask her to stay. Slowly take a half step backward, then go right back to her, release her, tell her she’s a good girl and give her a treat. Slowly increase your distance, making your half step a full step, then put your feet together and add another step. Again, with puppy obedience training, you should always be going back to your puppy and releasing her before she releases herself. “You can build this up to being able to turn your back on her, and possibly even leave the room,” says Angell.
The command: Come (or Recall)
To Teach It: If your bond with your dog is strong (which it will be if you’re using these puppy training tips), she should want to come to you when you call her. Still, once the foundation of come is laid, you can reinforce it by randomly calling her to you for good things, like to eat, for a treat or to play. “When she comes to you, be very happy, and never yell at her when she comes to you,” says Angell. “You should also touch her collar every time she comes to you.” Food in this case is actually used to strengthen the recall, not reach it, says Angell. If your dog needs a little help speeding up her learning of “come,” start practicing in the house with her only a few feet away from you. Keep the distance between you small to start, and when she is not looking at you, call her to you and reward her when she comes. Slowly increase the distance between the two of you and practice in different environments, like in the house, the yard and then in front of the house.
Bonus tips: Potty Training
To Teach It: Potty training doesn’t need to be the bane of your existence. “You need to make sure that your puppy does not have run of the house unsupervised,” says Angell. “If you do this, your puppy will have an accident. It’s not a question of if, but when.” To start training Angell suggests setting up an area like an exercise pen covered in pee pads, and using that as your puppy’s bathroom. “Put them in the area when they are going to be left alone, after meals and after a play or training session,” she said. “When they use the area, praise them and tell them how wonderful they are and give them puppy treats.” If you catch your puppy soiling an area outside of her designated potty spot, don’t yell. “Just take a deep breath, put them in the area for a few minutes and then let them out,” says Angell. “One of the best things I have ever found to help with potty training is to keep a log of what goes in your puppy and what comes out and what time,” Angell added. “Keep track of this, and in a few weeks, you will see patterns emerging that will help you get your dog to the proper area on time.” Also remember that every successful soiling on a pad should be celebrated. “Your puppy will get the hang of it when she realizes that peeing on a pad gets you all happy, and when you give her treats it will make her go out of her way to make sure it happens,” Angell added.