Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Getting a new puppy is very exciting. You may think that little, clumsy, ball of fluff is too adorable to enforce any rules, but eventually that cuteness begins to fade and it’s important to have set a good foundation right from the beginning. The transition from puppy to dog will go much more smoothly if your dog has received some training in her early days. Puppies can begin learning at a very young age and you should start training as soon as you bring your new puppy home. Here are four essential commands to teach your puppy that form a good foundation for future training:
The first and most basic command that we like to teach our dogs is the “Sit” command. It is also one of the easiest commands to teach your dog.
With the dog in front of you, get the dog’s attention by holding a treat in your hand close to the dog’s nose.
Once the dog smells the treat, move your hand back above the dog’s head. As he follows the movement of the treat with his nose, his head will naturally tilt up, causing his bottom to lower to the ground.
As soon as his bottom touches the ground, say “Sit”, give him the treat and praise him.
Before attempting to teach your dog the “Stay” command, make sure he already knows the “Sit” command and is performing it well.
To begin with, give your dog the “Sit” command
Hold up your hand in front of you with the palm of your hand facing the dog and say “Stay” while gradually taking a few steps back away from the dog, while repeating the “Stay” command.
Reward the dog with a treat and praise if he stays.
Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the dog the treat.
Once the dog is staying put with you in front of the dog, you can begin to walk around the dog.
Continue to increase the distance and duration until the dog is performing flawlessly.
During this process, the dogs is learning both the verbal command “Stay” as well as the hand signal and should be able to perform with either command.
3. Here (Come)
We like to use the command “Here” instead of “Come”, but this is strictly a personal preference. You can use whichever command you would like, but just be consistent with what you use.
To begin with, teach the “Here” command with a collar and leash on your dog. We like to use a little bit longer leash when teaching this command.
Get down on the dog’s level and say “Here”, while gently pulling on the leash. Do not jerk or yank the leash.
Once the dog gets to you, reward him with a treat and lots of praise.
Increase the distance between you and your dog and continue to practice the “here” command, always rewarding and praising your dog when he comes to you.
Once the dog is performing this command consistently on the leash, remove the leash and continue practicing the “Here” command with the dog off leash. Make sure that the dog is in a safe, enclosed area when practicing this command with your dog off leash.
Once the dog has mastered the “Sit” and “Stay” commands, we will often put the dog in the Sit-Stay position, walk a distance away from the dog and then give the “Here” command. The dog should come running eagerly.
We start introducing our puppies to the crate before the ever go home to their new families. So, by the time our new puppies are ready to go home to their forever families, they should be very comfortable with their crate. Crate training could take a few days or weeks, depending on the temperament and age of your dog. Two important things to remember when crate training is (1) the crate should always be associated with something good and, (2) training should be accomplished in a series of small steps. Don’t rush the crate training process.
Step 1 – Introduce your dog to the crate
When initially introducing your dog to the crate, it helps to put a soft blanket or towel in the bottom of the crate to make it comfortable for the dog.
Encourage your dog to enter the crate by using small treats or food. Place some treats near the opening of the crate, another one just inside the door, and another one way inside.
Continue to toss treats into the crate until your dog will go all the way into the crate. If your dog is not motivated by food or treats, you can try tossing their favorite toy into the crate.
Step 2 – Feed your dog in the crate
Hopefully by the time you reach step 2, your dog has already entered the crate and is starting to get used to going into the crate.
At meal time, place the dog’s food into the crate. By feeding them in the crate, they begin to associate the crate with something positive. Remember training is always about positive association. If a dog gets hit by the door as they go into the crate, they now have a negative association with the crate. Always make their experience positive!
Once the dog will go into the crate to eat their food, you can close the crate door while they are eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating.
If your dog begins to whine or cry in the crate, do not let them out until they stop or they will learn that all they have to do to get out of the crate is to whine or cry and so they will keep doing it until you give in and let them out. If a dog continues to whine or cry while in the crate, we will sometimes completely cover the crate with a light sheet or blanket.
Step 3 – Extend the duration the dog is in the crate
Once your dog is eating regularly in the crate and they don’t exhibit any sign of fear or anxiety, you can start putting the dog in the crate for short periods of time while you are home.
Call them over to the crate and reward them with a treat and praise.
Give the dog the “Kennel” command and encourage them to go in the crate by offering a treat inside the kennel.
Once the dog enters the crate, give them praise and a treat and close the kennel door.
Stay by the crate and sit quietly for up to 10 minutes and then go into another room in the house for a few minutes. After a few minutes, return to the crate and sit quietly again for a few more minutes and then let the dog out of the crate.
Repeat the above process a couple times a day and gradually increase the duration that the dog is in the crate and the amount of time you are out of sight.
Teaching your new puppy these four simple commands will give him a good foundation for future training and help build his confidence as he masters these new commands. For more training tips, follow us on Facebook by clicking here and on Instagram @reddesertdoodles by clicking here. We frequently post training tips to our social media pages.