How To Train A Puppy: 8 Commands To Get Started

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Training your puppy is a great way to teach them to behave better and help them learn basic commands, such as sit, stay, and come. Getting started with training early on is important because it’s easier to train a puppy than it is for an older dog. It’s best to start training your puppy as early as possible, which is around 8 weeks for most pet parents.

It takes a lot of work to train your puppy, and you have to be willing to learn how to train a puppy. You can talk to your vet or a trainer to learn more about how to train a puppy and teach them basic dog commands, including what training aids you should use. If you want to know more about teaching your puppy basic skills, here are some tips and 8 commands to start with.

1. How To Train A Puppy To Sit
1. How To Train A Puppy To Sit

Teaching your puppy how to sit is a great starting point if you want to teach them other basic commands. You can train a puppy to sit when they’re as young as 6 weeks old.

You can teach your dog to sit through two methods: luring or capturing. With luring, you can keep a treat in your hand and place your hand above your dog’s head, near their nose. Once your puppy knows you have a treat in your hand, start to move the treat up a little so they have to bring their nose up and sit down to reach it. Eventually, your puppy should sit on the ground while trying to go for the treat, at which point you can reward and praise them. 

With capturing, you can start to reward your puppy anytime it offers the behavior without being asked, making it more likely to perform that behavior more often. From there, you can start to say the word or cue right before they sit down.

Remember, training is a process, so it may take several weeks for your puppy to get the hang of it. As you begin training your puppy, start with 1-2 minute training sessions and work your way up to longer sessions if your pet is able to stay engaged.

2. How To Train A Puppy To Stay

2. How To Train A Puppy To Stay

If you want a well-behaved dog everywhere you go, teaching them to stay is crucial. “Stay” is also an important command for safety reasons. If you’re out and about in an area with lots of distractions, “stay” can help ensure your pet stays put when they’re commanded to do so.

Start by putting them in the stay position and standing still, then provide a reward. Once successful a few times, take one step back. Once successful 3-5 times, then take two steps back and reward. “No” is not good information for a dog and is a verbal punisher, which can cause stress and confusion. Instead, simply repeat the stay command until they perform the command correctly.

3. How To Train A Puppy To Come

3. How To Train A Puppy To Come

If your dog gets away from you, teaching them the “come” command can help you keep them safe and in sight. Start by putting your dog on a leash, then gradually move a ways away from them. Once you’re separated from your dog, tell people to say “come” with a happy high pitches voice or lure the dog by shaking a treat bag and calling them. Then, reward them when they come.

4. How To Train A Puppy To Walk On A Leash

4. How To Train A Puppy To Walk On A Leash

You need to train your puppy to walk on a leash if you want to take them out in public regularly. You should teach your puppy to walk on a leash as early as possible, letting them wear their leash, collar, or harness around the house a bit to get comfortable in it. You can also practice walking your dog around inside the house a bit.  Most puppy classes and obedience 1 classes start teaching this, so starting here can be a great option. It’s also recommended to bring treats in a treat bag on all walks and reward your puppy for walking next to you often. Once your dog is comfortable with a leash and follows the “come” command, you can take them out in public for walks.1

5. How To House Train A Puppy 

5. How To House Train A Puppy 

House training your puppy can take a long time, so getting started early is crucial. So, how can I train my puppy to go outside to use the bathroom?

Make sure your puppy has pee pads around the house, then create a routine that involves taking them to their pee pads or taking them outside regularly to go to the bathroom. When you take your puppy outside, always put them on a leash at first to be able to reward them with a treat 1-2 seconds after they finish eliminating. It’s also recommended to take them to the same spot, so they have a conditional spot associated with the bathroom. Don’t bring them back right away. Instead, play with them and walk around so they don’t learn “if I pee, I go right back inside.” 

Finally, make sure you’re rewarding your puppy when they do a good job of going outside to go potty. Reinforcing positive behavior is the best way to train your puppy.

6. How To Train A Puppy To Be Home Alone

6. How To Train A Puppy To Be Home Alone

Chances are you’re going to have to leave your puppy home alone from time to time, so you need to make sure they’re comfortable with that. When executed properly, crate training your puppy is a great way to reduce confinement distress when your puppy stays home alone.

Start by letting your dog get familiar with their crate, and make sure they’ve got comfortable bedding and toys they like in their crate with them. You can ease your dog into crate training by starting when you’re at home with them.

Over time, your dog may become so comfortable with their crate that it becomes a sanctuary space for them. 

7. How To Train A Puppy To Socialize

7. How To Train A Puppy To Socialize

Socializing is important for puppies, and socialization starts as soon as you take them home and end at about 14-16 weeks of age. You can introduce your puppy to some of the new sights and smells they’re going to experience, then you can get your family involved. Once your puppy is comfortable socializing at home, you can start taking them out in public to socialize with other dogs, people, places, and textures of ground like the beach, grass, or the inside of a car.

8. How To Train A Puppy Not To Chew

8. How To Train A Puppy Not To Chew

Chewing can cause serious damage and put your puppy in danger, so training your puppy not to chew is crucial. So, how do I train a puppy to not chew? Start by making sure your dog has chew toys and keeping anything else that they can chew on away. Pay close attention and interrupt your dog if they begin chewing something. Once you interrupt your dog, divert their attention to something else or teach a leave it and drop it cue. Daily exercise is also an important part of preventing chewing in puppies.2

Graphic listing puppy training tips

Puppy Training Tips

Whether you want to teach your dog basic commands or train your dog to stop barking, here are some puppy training tips you can try when you’re training your puppy at home.

  1. Positive reinforcement is more effective than discipline, so focus on praising your dog when they do something right rather than punishing them when they don’t listen.3
  2. Try training aids to make training your dog a little easier. Your vet may recommend tools such as a good leash and a clicker for training.
  3. Avoid harmful tools, such as aversive collars like choke, prong, and shock collars, that can hurt and/or distress your puppy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first thing you should train your puppy?

The first thing you should teach your puppy is how to sit. Sitting is actually the starting point for many other commands, so your dog needs to know how to sit in order to learn to stay and come. Once you teach your dog how to sit, you can start incorporating other commands in their training, but mastering the sit command first makes more advanced commands a little more approachable for your pet.

How do you discipline a puppy?

Training your puppy can be tough, but you don’t want your training to be focused on discipline. Instead of disciplining your puppy, it’s important to understand why they might be misbehaving or missing a common or cue. Reasons a puppy may not respond to a cue is because they don’t understand what you’re asking because you haven’t communicated it clearly enough. Or, your puppy may be distracted because they’re working in an environment they’re not ready for yet. Another reason could be that they’re scared or that they’re undermotivated because you’re not providing enough of a reason for them to follow a specific command.

What can I teach my 6-week-old puppy?

When your puppy is just 6 weeks old, they have a shorter attention span. With short training sessions, you can start teaching your puppy basic commands, getting them socialized, and teaching them to use pee pads or go to the bathroom outside. It’s important to keep training sessions short because your dog might not be able to pay attention for more than 1 to 2 minutes at a time. As your dog grows, you can increase the duration of training sessions.

Dog owner feeding puppy a treat during training

Final Notes

Learning how to train a puppy can be a lot of work, but a well-trained puppy will grow up to be a well-behaved adult dog. You can teach your puppy to stay calm in public, listen to your commands despite distractions, and socialize well with other people and animals.

If you need help training your puppy, you should talk to a vet. With Dutch, you can connect with a vet via video chat who can give you tips and tricks to help you train your puppy starting at a young age. If you want to simplify puppy training, try Dutch today.

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References

  1. Donovan, Liz. “Leash Train Your Puppy in 5 Easy Steps.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 7 Sept. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/teach-puppy-walk-leash/.

  2. Donovan, Liz. “Puppy Socialization: How to Socialize a Puppy.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 28 Apr. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/puppy-socialization/.

  3. “Positive Reinforcement Training.” The Humane Society of the United States, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/positive-reinforcement-training.

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