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First Steps With A Puppy: How to teach basic obedience

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Guest post by Natalie Lester, PetSafe Brand Marketing Specialist

Whether you’re raising a guide dog puppy like Colby here at Puppy In Training or if you have just adopted a puppy as a companion pet for your family, one thing is for sure. Training needs to begin immediately. If you don’t start teaching your pet the right behavior, they will certainly be learning the wrong ones.

Along with your puppy’s first bark, he’ll need to learn to be quiet. Along with their first happy trots around the house, you’ll want to teach them to keep all four paws on the floor (no jumping!). With their first accident, you’ll want to teach them where to potty. Along with these behaviors, you will also want to teach him basic obedience. With so much to do, how do you know where to start?

Natalie and Emma
Natalie and Emma

Training techniques and opinions are a dime a dozen. Every pet parent has one and there are so many methods to choose from. With a new puppy, Positive Reinforcement is the easiest method. Positive Reinforcement is defined as adding a reward to a behavior that is being performed so that the good behavior increases. To teach Emma basic commands, I use a Lickety Stik® to encourage her good behaviors. For example, when your puppy is making the right decision to chew on his Busy Buddy toy, instead of your shoe, and you walk by to praise him, the puppy enjoys the petting and will increase how often he plays with that toy. Read on to see instructions for other specific behaviors.

Puppy Basic Obedience

Sit: This was the first command I taught Emma, and you better believe I used a Lickety Stik®. It was so important for her to learn she had to put her bottom on the ground before she could have her reward, and it was so easy to teach her! All I had to do was hold the treat a little higher than her nose and say “Sit.” As she raised her head to reach the treat, her bottom would drop. Soon, as soon as I said sit, her bottom would hit the floor. I still encourage her with treats and attention!

Bed: I use this one the most in our office, but it is also useful at home when I have guests. The last thing any of my visitors want is my puppy overwhelming them at their arrival. I started by having her “sit” in her bed on a leash. I would start to step away from the bed, but still holding the leash in my hand. If she stayed, I would step back in and reward her. If she stepped off, I would guide her back to the bed while saying “bed” and reward her once she sat back down on it. As she got more comfortable with what I was asking (and understood what she had to do to get the treats), I could walk around the bed and eventually drop the leash. Now, she knows she has to go there until I call her to get a treat or some attention.

Off: Jumping up on people can certainly be an issue, and I can’t say Emma has quite mastered this one but we’re working on it! I use this command to instruct Emma to get off, let go, or step away from anything she is currently on. For example, when I come home and Emma is so happy to see me, she jumps up to get my attention. However, she cannot have that “reward” until all four paws are on the ground. Therefore, I turn my back to her and ignore her until she gets off of me. Then I will reward her good behavior with the attention (and treats if I have them on me) she was seeking in the first place!

What about you? How have you taught your puppy basic obedience, or what commands are you interested in? Leave your comments below and I’ll give you the best advice I can.

As the PetSafe Brand Marketing Specialist, Natalie Lester manages The Paw Print blog and generates other brand related content including public relations and promotions. Before PetSafe, Natalie worked in the local media covering politics, education, and religion. Natalie’s puppy, Emma, spends almost as much time in the office as she does.

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  1. I was lucky with my first puppy and was referred to a great trainer and enrolled Linus in class when he was 10 weeks old. Jumping up on people was one of the first things we worked on because our trainer knew that most of us were happy to have our little pups jump up on our legs, but definitely not a good thing when they get bigger especially for Labs!

  2. I admit that I didn’t do much training with Chester when he was a puppy, I was a new dog owner and didn’t realize the importance. Over the years he has learned most of the basic commands but the jumping one is hopeless for us. It’s better to start early 🙂

  3. That’s a good one! We do almost the same thing with our puppies when we teach leave it. We put the treat in our hand let the puppy see it and close our hand then tell our puppy to “leave it” as soon as he looks away from our hand we give him praise.

  4. I’ve noticed that most of the puppies that I puppy sit enjoy shredding the doggy beds in their crates. Sometimes a blanket works better than the bed, but I’ve had pups shred blankets as well 🙁

  5. Personally I like the leave it command for a puppy, it comes in so handy whether avoiding a stinky mess on a walk, or keeping them from ingesting something they shouldn’t. We put the treat on the floor in front of him in close distance to our hand and tell him to leave it. When he looks at you, you reward him. IMO it’s essential for a puppy. 🙂

  6. One of the 1st things needed for your new puppy and for training is a great collar and matching leash from cloescollars.com

  7. Kuster was our first puppy, and it has definitely been a learning curve for us! He’s a good boy, and probably too smart for our own good. We learned a lot of things NOT to do next time, and also quite a few that we will do. If I could figure out how to keep him from shredding dog beds, that would be awfully nice! 😛

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