No one likes a badly behaved dog. Taking the trouble to train your dog when it is still a puppy will save you plenty of grief, embarrassment, or even lawsuits. Three essential commands your dog must learn — not including house training — to make your dog the best dog possible, are “stay,” “sit,” and “no.” Not only will these commands make your life easier, they will also keep your dog happier and safer.
The very first thing you must do when you bring your puppy home is the vet visit. Then you need to shop for a standard leash and a collar that not only fits, but has some room to grow because that puppy is probably going to double in size within the first couple of weeks. Once you are home from the vet, put the collar on the puppy and go for the first walk. Once out on the street or sidewalk, you will need to control your puppy with the leash and collar by reigning in the leash if your puppy strays too far.
Cautions and praise:
Do not jerk on the leash, but pull slowly and steadily toward you, and once the puppy is at your feet, firmly say, “stay!” Once the puppy has been at your side for a moment, bend down and pet the puppy and say, “good dog,” or even better, use the dog’s name with that praise, so they begin to learn they are rewarded for good behavior. Do this several times during your walk. Walk your puppy at least three times a day, for 15 to 30 minutes each time, and repeat this command until you feel you can try to leave the dog in the “stay” position for a few feet. Walk away, repeating “stay.” When your puppy stays, then release him by saying, “okay,” and watch the dog run to you, ready for more petting and hugs. Once he or she gets good at it, and you are sure of the puppy — and this could take a few weeks of training — you can do this on a street that has little to no traffic, and give the “stay” command, so you can walk across the street, doggy in place, and then give the release command. This command will be used throughout the dog’s life to make sure the dog knows when that is said, they must not move or follow you.
This lesson can be done inside or outside, but the fewer distractions there are, the better. You might have to gently push down on the doggy’s rump the first few times to get her to sit, but after each time, repeat the “good dog,” reinforcement. She will learn this very fast. At the end of a training session, it’s always nice to give the dog some extra attention and a dog treat. Never belittle your dog or hit the dog if they don’t learn their commands fast enough. Every dog wants to please their person, so it should not take long, if you are kind, gentle, and consistent in your commands. Give love and praise freely. This could take twenty minutes to learn, or it could take a few days. Be patient, and if you are not patient, don’t get a dog. This can and should be taught during the “stay,” command phase, but not at the same training times, at least not right away.
“No,” is the command you want to use whenever the puppy is behaving in ways you do not want the dog to continue. It may be cute when an eight pound puppy jumps on you or a guest, but it is definitely bad behavior when the dog weighs 80 pounds. Tell your dog, “no,” in a voice that is loud enough to mean it, but not a yell. Then push the dog down, gently, repeating “sit,” as you do. Eventually, they will connect the two commands and automatically sit when they are told “no,” or stop whatever behavior they are doing that you don’t like. This is a good command for not begging at the table.
I have other commands that you can teach your dog, but they will need to wait for another day. The dogs I have had were trained to do several tricks, as well as following the necessary behavioral modification commands. My last bit of advice is, if you don’t have the time to spend three to five hours each day, training, walking, and cuddling your dog for at least the first year and a half of your life together, then don’t adopt a dog. If you want a good dog — and this also applies to children — spend time with them, be kind and consistent, and the dog will reward you with years of good, well-behaved companionship. You will benefit from having trained the dog yourself, and not having a trainer do it. After all, you want your dog bonded to you, not some stranger.