Basic Puppy Training 101: Everything You Need to Know

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Now, you may think dog training seems like more work than anything else, especially if your pooch has a stubborn or bold personality, but we promise you both will benefit from it. With a Petland puppy, we offer a multitude of resources to help you get started including in-store training with detailed sessions, training kits, […]

Now, you may think dog training seems like more work than anything else, especially if your pooch has a stubborn or bold personality, but we promise you both will benefit from it. With a Petland puppy, we offer a multitude of resources to help you get started including in-store training with detailed sessions, training kits, and other valuable resources as part of our Petland Perks.

Read on to learn more about the essentials of dog training, our training tips, and the basic commands you should teach your pup. 

Why is it important to train your dog?

Training is one of the most important things you can do for your canine. And what’s great about it is that it benefits your dog and you! No matter how much we want to, we can’t communicate with our cuddly canines as we talk with other people. That’s where dog training comes in handy—it teaches you and your dog how to understand each other, even if neither of you speaks the same language.

When you train your dog, for example, you teach your dog the rules of your house (not theirs!), showing them who’s in command. This helps prevent any bad habits from developing into problematic behavior, especially if your furry friend is a puppy. Training can also help dog breeds with sassy or proud personalities from overstepping their boundaries.

Above all, a good training session lets you and your fur-baby spend time together, building a strong human-animal bond!

What’s the difference between positive and negative reinforcement?

When it comes to dog training, there are two types of methods you need to be aware of: 

  • Positive reinforcement. A positive consequence for completing a task or a desired behavior.
  • Negative reinforcement. A negative consequence to encourage acceptable behavior.

Between the two methods, we recommend using positive reinforcement as it’s more likely to motivate your pooch to perform the tasks you want. Some positive consequences you can give to your puppy include a yummy treat, chewy toy, or affection. Your puppy will enjoy responding to training sessions that reward their good behavior or tricks.

With negative reinforcement, you remove two types of stimuli from your puppy’s environment: aversive and positive. When you remove aversive stimuli, you take away an unpleasant activity like “time out” from your puppy if they perform the task you want. An alternative method is to remove positive stimuli like your puppy’s favorite toy when they misbehave.

Negative reinforcement can be just as effective as positive reinforcement. However, it should never resort to hitting or scolding your dog. If you use physical punishment to train your dog, they will grow to fear and resent you, which is not the goal of dog training. 

What are some essential dog training tips?

Dog training comes with a set of dos and don’ts. Knowing the following tips allows you to teach your furry companion the rules of the world without causing a break in your bond. When training your dog, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. Your dog has natural instincts. And sometimes…they get bored. Boredom can interrupt a training session and cause your dog to become disobedient. They may even try to train you. Make each training session more interesting by changing up the lesson or creating a game that incorporates each command.
  2. Dogs do not understand your sense of humor. You may try to tease or play with your pooch during training by pranking them. While this may be good and fun with another person, your dog may just tilt their head in confusion. Cut out the jokes from dog training and your pup will start cooperating with you.
  3. Be consistent all the time. You should only reward your dog once they’ve completed their task. Do not allow bad behavior one day, and then try to eliminate the behavior during training the next. Your dog will be confused.
  4. Dog training requires patience and timing. Depending on your dog’s breed, size, and age, training may take days, weeks, or even months before they master commands.
  5. Take your dog outside once they’ve learned the commands. Try practicing in different areas like a dog park or a busy street. Be sure to bring a leash with you.
  6. Teach your dog one command at a time. Mixing up commands can confuse them. Make sure they’ve mastered it before creating a challenging training session.
  7. Never hit or scold your dog. Your dog will respond better with rewards over physical punishment.

What commands or tricks should you teach your dog?

Whether your pooch is a puppy or an adult dog, you should ensure they know the 5 basic commands before you teach them any other tricks. These commands are essential when you’re inside your house or outside:

  1. Sit: Hold a treat in front of your puppy’s face. Then, bring it over their head and wait until they sit. Give the treat once they perform the action. Have them stand up by walking backwards. When they sit down again, give them a treat while saying “sit.” Repeat this lesson a few times.  
  2. Stay: Give your puppy a treat while saying the word “ok” or “free.” Repeat this command so that they learn the release word. Once your puppy has mastered it, have them sit and give them a treat. Release them with the cue word. Increase the distance with each lesson while saying “stay.”
  3. Lay down: Wait for your puppy to lie down and give them a treat while saying “down.” Have them stand up again. Then, wait for them to lie down again before giving them a treat and the cue word. Repeat this command several times.  
  4. Come: Bring your cuddly friend to a quiet area. Call out their name with the cue word “come” and give your pup a treat. Give them another treat. As soon as they finish eating, call their name again. Give them a treat if they respond. Every moment you repeat this command, toss the treats farther away. You should give them a treat every time they come back to you when you call their name or “come”. 
  5. Heel: Pick a cue word to use. For heeling, some owners use “heel” or “let’s go.” Also, decide whether you want your dog to walk on your left or right side. When you and your dog are walking together, give them a treat when they stand or sit next to you. Give your pup treats as they walk beside you, saying the cue word. Your dog may try to walk ahead or walk-in zig-zag—if they do, turn the opposite way and reward them when they walk by your side.

Always keep dog training short and fun. If a training session becomes boring or repetitive, take a break and come back to the lesson later. Your puppy may also excel with an obedience class or private lessons with a dog trainer. As long as you make time, your puppy will learn what it takes to be a good boy or girl. We hope that National Train Your Dog Month helps you build a lasting friendship with your furry friend!

If your puppy loves to bark their little heart out, try out our Tips on How to Stop Your Barking Puppy to stop it from becoming a habit!