12 Jun Best commands to teach your puppy
When a new puppy comes to stay, it’s important to get started on the right foot. That means plenty of love and attention, but also teaching them some commands. That’s not just for your convenience – it’s vital for your pets’ wellbeing that they learn to listen to you when a situation is unsafe.
Training should be fun, light-hearted, and feature lots of treats, so your pet enjoys the chance to learn with you. With patience and persistence, you can help keep your puppy safe and help them understand the rules to make everyone’s life a bit easier.
Here are some of the most important commands to teach your puppy.
You’ve come up with the perfect name – the first thing your puppy should learn is to recognise that it belongs to them! With lots of love and repetition, your pup will pick it up in no time. The best time for them to learn is during games, taking the time to reward them when they respond to their name.
From preventing them from unsafe situations, to keeping them in line – “no” is one of the most important commands. While it’s important that your pup takes your “no” very seriously, keep the lesson lighthearted. You can teach “no” by leaving a treat on the ground and walking your pet by it on the leash. As they go to grab the treat, say “no” in a firm voice and prevent them from heading over by holding the leash firm. Once they have stopped going for the treat, say “yes” and give them a treat with lots of praise and cuddles.
Your puppy will naturally come to you throughout the day, so you can take the opportunity to reinforce that natural behaviour by using the word “come” with lots of praise and treats when they do. Otherwise, you can hold a treat in your hand and say “come”, while holding the treat. Your puppy gets the treat when they successfully come to you. Eventually the pup will learn to come without any treat necessary.
There are two main ways to teach your dog to sit. The first is to keep your eye open throughout the day for when they sit, and use the command “sit”, while rewarding them with lots of praise. They’ll get the hang of it. The other is to hold a treat in front of their face, while slowly raising it above their head. Most dogs will naturally sit down to reach it. That’s when you give the command, “sit”, and their treat.
Once you have your dog in a sitting position, you can work on “stay”. Firstly, focus on the length of time they can stay by continuing to reward them as long as they stay seated. Stretch out the length of time as your pup gets the hang of it. The next is to work on distance – once your puppy is seated, slowly move away while giving the command, “stay”. If they stay seated, then they get their reward! Work on getting further away for longer over time, until pup stays put.
The first step for teaching “heel” is to get your pup used to the leash. Then, stand by your puppy with the leash held loosely, giving them rewards for being near you without pulling. You can now take some steps, ensuring your dog is rewarded for following you closely. As you walk, you can offer treats at the level of your knee or hip to keep your pup keen to stay close.
Tips for commands
The main rule for commands is to enjoy the process! Recognise from the start that it will take time and patience – you and your pup speak a different language, and pups just want to have fun. Commands are really important to help you enjoy your pet and to keep them safe, but it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant process.
That means you should never use force, even to try to help your dog understand your request. Pushing your dog to sit or pulling them along won’t help them understand, it will just confuse them and potentially make them nervous. Keeping an eye out for when the behaviour occurs naturally and lots of rewards and praise is a much better option.
You can choose what commands you use – some people prefer “forward” instead of “heel”, for example. The main thing is to keep the word you choose short and snappy, and be consistent, using the same one each time. That will help your pup understand what you’re asking them to do, and make it easier for them to obey.
Teaching your Puppy
Puppies are naturally inquisitive, energetic, and often strong-willed. Training them can be a daunting prospect, but it’s vital for their safety and your enjoyment of them. Keep your sessions short and fun, with lots of rewards and praise. With persistence and repetition, you and your pup will reach an understanding that will be the start of many beautiful adventures together.