If you want them to become wonderful canine companions, dogs need to be taught how to be friendly and polite. These behaviors can be achieved with proper training, so it’s a responsibility that pet owners should never skip. Pet training provides mental stimulation and builds a dog’s confidence. Most importantly, training can keep a pet safe. A dog that obediently follows their owner’s commands can quickly be steered away from dangerous situations like engaging with a potentially aggressive animal or running across a busy street.
While pet training is essential for a dog’s well-being, it can feel quite overwhelming to tackle—especially if you’re a first-time dog owner. There are many types of training that your dog can undergo if you want them to perform specific tasks, but you ideally want to start with these three basic skills. Training will require patience and effort, but it’s all worth it to raise a good dog.
Every dog needs to learn how to properly walk on a leash. This means walking right next to their owner at command, instead of pulling ahead or refusing to move. Leash training will help you manage your pet better during outdoor walks and public excursions. It also ensures you comply with local leash laws without your dog reacting negatively to being on a lead.
When leash training your dog, begin by introducing them to their gear. Whether you’ll be using customizable dog collars or step-in harnesses, make sure to let them wear one—with a leash attached—for short periods inside the house to get them used to it. It’s also a good idea to practice wearing the collar and leash while you’re playing with your dog and giving them some tasty dog treats. This way, they can associate wearing a collar or harness with a fun activity.
Once your dog has become accustomed to wearing their collar and harness, practice holding on to the leash and walking your pet a few steps in a room. Continue doing this until your dog gets used to walking right next to you. When you walk your pup outside for the first time, keep the leash short. This will allow you to easily control your dog’s movements, as they can get distracted and forget their training. You can slowly give more slack to the leash and extend your outings for longer as your dog becomes more comfortable with walking on a leash.
Often called housebreaking or house training, potty training is essential if you don’t want your dog making a mess inside your home. This type of training teaches your dog to manage their urges and to only do their business in certain acceptable areas, like the yard.
When house training your pet, consider your dog’s schedule. Typically, dogs need a bathroom break after every meal, nap, and playtime. By anticipating when they’ll need to go potty, it will be easier to direct your pet to a suitable location where they can do their business. Take them to the yard or the outdoors at the usual time that they do their business, and wait for them to relieve themselves before bringing them back indoors. Select a spot and take them to the same place every time so that they associate the location with their bathroom breaks.
On the other hand, if you plan to create an indoor toilet spot for your pup, prepare the area with newspaper or pee pads. When your puppy starts to sniff around in preparation for going potty, place them in the prepared spot. Do this regularly until your dog learns to associate the indoor toilet with going potty. Being consistent can help your pet build a potty ritual they can quickly follow.
Obedience training provides your dog with structure and helps overcome common dog behavior problems, including excessive barking, chewing inappropriate items, or jumping on people. More importantly, a dog that obeys your commands will be easier to keep away from harm. For a start, the three basic commands you must teach your dog are sit, stay, and come.
Train your dog to sit by holding a treat towards the back of their head. This would typically prompt dogs to move to a seated position. But if your pet doesn’t sit, lightly touch their butt as you say the command. Give them a treat when they sit and praise your pet for doing a good job.
Once your dog has mastered sitting on command, the next step is to keep them in that position by telling them to stay. Stand in front of your pet, show an open palm, and utter the word, "stay." Maintain eye contact and let your dog be in the same position for 30 seconds. Then, let them know they can move by saying, "okay." As you continue training them, lengthen the time they have to be in the stay position.
When teaching your dog to come to you, put on their collar and leash so you can better direct them. Begin the training by letting your pet stay as far as the leash will allow you to. Then, gently pull the leash and tell your pup to come to you in an excited voice. Once your dog successfully follows your command, shower them with plenty of praise and give them an occasional treat to encourage good behavior.
With consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement, you can train your dog to do almost anything. But in the first few months of getting your pet, make sure to include the ones mentioned above in their training. This way, you can make sure you raise a good dog that everyone will be happy to have around.