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6 Skills You Should Teach Your Puppy

By Heather Burdo

husky puppy giving a high five

Bringing home a new puppy is such an exciting experience. Along with cuddling and adoring your new furry friend, starting basic puppy commands right away is crucial. People often wonder when to start training a puppy, and the answer is as soon as possible. Young puppies have short attention spans, but you can start teaching them basic commands around 7-8 weeks of age. Here are six commands to teach your puppy:

1. Teaching Your Puppy Their Name

Teaching a puppy their name should be at the top of your list of basic puppy commands. To start, get their favorite treats and keep them handy. Take your dog somewhere that has little to no distractions. Whenever he or she looks at you, say their name in a cheerful tone and give a treat. Be sure to interact with your puppy. Wait for them to look away and repeat the steps.

Once they’ve learned their name, you can use it to get them to come, to interact positively, or to let them know they’ve done something wrong.

2. Teaching Your Puppy “No”

To begin teaching your puppy “no,” you will need to have treats (Pro tip: Make sure the treats are extra tasty). Next, have your puppy respond to you by either walking or sitting beside you to ensure their focus is on you. Set your dog up for something they will want to do, like grabbing a piece of food the floor. Bring your dog over to the food. Once they look at the food and get closer, say “no.” Be sure to treat your puppy when he or she leaves the area.

You should practice this technique with other distractions besides food on the floor. And remember to keep practicing.

3. Teaching Your Puppy to Sit

When you teach a puppy to sit, it’s important that you never physically place them into a sitting position. To begin, get in front of your puppy and hold a treat. Position the treat so it’s right in front of his or her nose while slowly lifting it above their head. Let your puppy have the treat once they are fully sitting on the ground.

Repeat a couple of times with the treats, then use just your empty hand while still rewarding them. Over time, he or she will start to understand when you say “sit” right before you give the hand signal.

4. Teaching Your Puppy to Lie Down

Before you begin to teach your puppy to lie down, remember that you shouldn’t force them into this position. Doing so could make him or her become aggressive. First, put a treat in your hand and ask your puppy to sit. Then, position your hand so it’s around one inch above their nose to try and get him or her to touch it.

When their nose is on your hand, move your hand down toward the ground so it’s about two inches in front of their feet. Be sure their nose is on your hand the whole time. If your dog gets up or his or her nose gets away from your hand, say “nope” and stand up so the treat is away from him.

Once you have lured your dog’s nose to the ground successfully, slowly move your hand along the ground until they lie down. When their elbows touch the ground in the full down position, give lots of praise and the treat between their paws. Keep treating to hold the position.

5. Teaching Your Puppy to Stay

Training your puppy to “stay” can be one of the most overwhelming basic commands but it’s one of the most useful, so it’s important to master it.

Begin by asking your puppy to lie down. Say “stay” and put your hand in front of you while positioning your palm facing toward them. Once he or she stays for a few seconds, reward your dog for staying put. It’s ideal to practice this many times.

Add to the command by taking a few steps back and saying “stay.” When they stay for a few seconds, reward them again. As you teach this command, increase the length of time and the distance of the “stay.” Take it at a slow pace and your puppy will catch on.

6. Teaching Your Puppy to Come

Teaching your puppy to come when called is important for when your puppy gets away from you. Start by putting a leash and collar on your puppy. Get down to his or her level and say “come” as you gently pull on the leash. As soon as your dog gets to you, be sure to reward them with a treat and affection.

Once your dog has mastered this command, remove the leash and practice without it. Make sure you are in an enclosed and safe area when the leash is off.

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