I'm a dog lover, a dog sports enthusiast and a dog trainer based in Surrey, UK. Also, I started this blog as I love sharing relevant, practical puppy and dog training tips. I am the founder of Dogitivity Positive Puppy and Dog Training, Surrey, UK.
Teaching the commands: "sit, stay, down, heel, off, no, and drop it" has been substituted by teaching relevant life skills in the humane modern reward-based puppy training.
If you want your dog to be a happy, welcomed, and safe companion in human society - then forget all about obedience. We need to teach our puppies life skills that match the human social norms.
Dogs are hardwired to bark, dig, sniff, jump, and chase. Our dogs will behave like dogs. It's our responsibility to gently guide them to display more desirable behaviors, don't expect your puppy to be preprogrammed to understand our human concept of correct behavior.
You get the best results if you very early on visualize how you want your adult dog to behave, make a list of the important behaviors, and start planning how you can teach your dog step by step. Remember:
"It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them" - Benjamin Franklin.
In my time as a trainer, I have found that if you teach your puppy the 6 following behaviors, you are teaching polite manners that will last a lifetime.
Behavior 1 - A Calm Settle
Being able to settle calmly is beneficial in your home and when you are out and about with your puppy. Imagine taking your puppy to a cafe. Your puppy will recognize the mat as a cue for settling down and will chill while you enjoy lunch, amazing right?
Settling down calmly is a prerequisite for teaching your puppy to be home alone.
Watch our Easy-Peasy Mat training video.
Behavior 2 - Attention to you
Attention to you is where all great training starts. Think of your dog's attention to you as your opportunity to teach an attentive learner. Your training results will become so much better with your dog's focus on you.
Attention to you is the first and most important task to teach your dog. Reward generously when your dog checks in with you—practice in various places and situations. Suppose you like to learn more, watch this clip.
Behavior 3 - Wait
The wait is a life skill that every dog needs to learn. A wait behavior is mainly a safety behavior that prevents your puppy from bolting out the door, car, and towards humans and dogs. The great benefit of teaching a wait is that your puppy learns that he sometimes needs to wait patiently for fun and rewarding things to happen. In dog training, we call it impulse control.
A lack of impulse control often results in multiple unwanted behaviors as pulling on the lead, barking, and jumping.
Behavior 4 - Loose Leash Walk
Teaching a solid loose leash walk is not a technically difficult skill to teach, but it does take a lot of consistency and clarity from you.
A loose leash walk is a crucial life skill and a polite manner that will make your adventures with your puppy very enjoyable.
The key to teaching a nice lead walk is defining your goals and communicating them precisely to your puppy. Don’t compromise your decisions. It will create frustration in your puppy and slow down the learning process. Read more about the Loose Leash walk.
Behavior 5 - Recall
Most puppies will automatically follow you that's why building a strong foundation for recall already during puppyhood is a brilliant idea. Recall is a safety behavior and one of the most important things to teach your puppy.
Creating a reliable recall depends not only on the amount of training but also on the general relationship between you and your dog. If your dog has a solid reinforcement history of interacting with you through play, general training, and positive interaction, you are already very close to a solid recall.
Behavior 6 - Being Comfortably Home Alone
When your puppy arrives, it is not exactly time to start home alone training. Don't start with the training right away. The separation from mum and litter is traumatic enough -the puppy needs, more than anything, a feeling of security and connection with its new family.
Independence will happen naturally as a result of a secure relationship. Ideally, your puppy would accompany you everywhere for the first seven days. After the first seven days, it is time to introduce ultra-short absences. The daily routine is a key element. Predictability and pattern recognition will help your puppy settle faster.
I wish you the best of luck with your new family member and all the best teaching the crucial life skills. Let me know if you struggle or join my puppy course where I will be there to guide you every step of the way, read more: Best beginning puppy course.
Happy Training, Christina x