Teaching your dog obedience is an essential part of dog ownership, but it can be a daunting prospect for new puppy owners who’ve never trained a dog before.
Obedience does take time to teach, but puppy training is not only important - it can be fun too. Break your training schedule down into distinct stages, and it’s easy to teach your puppy the basics before moving onto more advanced tricks and techniques as they grow older.
And remember, the best way to help your dog is always through positive reinforcement. Leave any negativity at the door when you bring your pup home for the first time! Keep reading as we explain how to teach pup obedience through a well-thought-out training plan.
How to train a dog
You don’t need to be a dog whisperer or a qualified dog behaviorist scientist to train and teach your dog. Obedience training can be undertaken by all owners; it just takes time, patience, and plenty of tasty treats!
- The best place to start when you bring your puppy home for the first time is by setting out a structured obedience training plan. This needs to start with the basics (like going to the toilet outside), but you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll progress to more advanced commands, such as ‘sit’ or tricks like ‘roll over’!
- Obedience training isn’t just a chore either (although we do stress that it is necessary). This is a chance for you to bond with your new pet pup, to learn about their character and personality, and to even introduce them to new friends in the park or at puppy training classes. It also helps them with separation anxiety.
There are several major stages of training that you’ll need to progress through with your dog. In chronological order, these are the following:
- House Training (includes potty training and crate training)
- Leash Training
- Basic Commands
- Advanced training (and tricks!)
These stages can also be broken down further in order to train your dog, but as a start, they are the basic steps that you need to get through in order to teach your dog to be obedient!
Let’s take a look at these stages in more detail.
#1 House Training
House training is the first stage of any puppy training plan. Even the easiest dogs to train need help with this part of the program because for the puppy, everything is new!
House training encompasses several elements associated with obedience, and it begins as soon as you walk through the door with your new pup. House training is when you teach your pup where they can and can’t pee, what time they have their meals, and what is and isn’t acceptable in the home.
This is where boundaries are set, and the basics of obedience are laid down. To be successfully house trained, your puppy needs to be taught the following:
- Potty training - puppies need to be taught where they go to the toilet. In all cases, this is going to be outside. A puppy schedule helps them to understand when they are going to be able to do their business and that it has to happen outside.
- Mealtimes - puppies need to understand when they can expect their food (which helps with toilet training, too).
- Crate training - this is when you teach your dog where they are going to be sleeping. This is usually in a crate or basket, but you could also teach them to use a bed ramp for dogs if there are other sleeping arrangements.
#2 Leash training
When your puppy is confident on their feet (and once they have had all the necessary vaccinations at the vets), then it’s time to train your dog to be comfortable on the leash.
It’s so important that they are used to this because it’s the only way they are going to get exercise away from home. Leash training is essential for your dog’s safety and for the safety of others.
Start slow; introduce your pup to the leash, then walk around the home with them. Progress to the backyard, and then the final test, take them out into the big wide world!
#3 Basic Commands
Basic commands aren’t necessarily the 3rd stage of training, as the reality is that you’ll be teaching them commands from a young age - it’s a continuous process. Once they are on the leash, though, you really need to step up their ability to respond to dog commands (and this happens around the 8-week mark).
You can teach a range of commands to your pup but start with the basics. These are:
With these five basic commands, you’ll have an obedient dog. The best way to start reinforcing these commands is through positive reinforcement. For example, when it’s mealtime, make your puppy sit before you let them eat. They quickly associate the command with food.
Likewise, you can use treats to teach other commands such as stay or come. Teach these commands at home or in the garden, first, then when you’re confident, move to the local park (the ultimate test!)
Teaching commands can take some patience, but remember, all dogs learn at their own pace. If you’re really struggling, then you can always consider employing the services of a professional dog trainer, but try to be patient first!
Socializing is also likely to happen at different stages through the training schedule; however, at this point, you will want to actively seek out other dogs to interact with if this hasn’t already happened.
Rather than unleashing your dog in the local park, it’s a good idea to attend puppy training classes where they can not only experience some serious dog training but interact with other puppies in a controlled environment. They can do this around the 12-week mark when they’ve had all the necessary vaccinations.
By now, your puppy is going to be house trained, leash trained, and they are going to understand the five basic dog commands. They’ll also be interacting with other dogs, either at puppy class or in the local park, but your work is far from over!
Puppies are young and impressionable, and just as quickly as they pick up new commands and behaviors, they can lose them too. This is where you need to be constantly proofing, and it’s essential if you want your commands to be instilled in your dog for the rest of their life.
They might have mastered how to sit - especially when it’s mealtime - but you need to continue to make them sit before every breakfast and dinner. They might be excelling at puppy training school, but make sure you don’t start skipping class or graduate too early.
#6 Advanced training
Advanced training can begin once your dog has mastered all of the basic commands and is old enough to begin comprehending and understanding the world around them better.
There’s no set age for this, but advanced training can begin once the basics are well understood, and you are confident they have been well-proofed. Advanced training can continue for the rest of their life, too.
Advanced tricks to teach your dog include the following:
- Roll over
- Play dead
- Spin around
- Shake hands
You can also start teaching your dog agility tricks, how to play with and return balls or sticks in the park, and so much more!
Dog obedience: proofing never ends!
Breaking training into distinct stages makes it easier to plan and to see progression, but the reality is that all of these stages are going to be continuous. Training, teaching obedience, and proofing never really end, even as your dog gets older and wiser.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this really isn’t true! Dogs are always inquisitive and curious, and there’s always more progress to be made!
If you’re bringing home a new puppy, then why not follow our training plan to teach dog obedience?