8 Steps to Train Your Dog

By Julie •  Updated: 08/06/20 •  15 min read
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Training your dog or puppy is a matter of teaching your fur baby good manners. Good manners and knowing how to behave properly are important for everyone in your household, including your dog! Good manners for dogs include learning how to obey cues you give, when you give them. You’ll want to teach your pet not to pull on the leashing with you dragging behind, not to jump on visitors who come to your home, and much more. This is where training your dog comes in.

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Dogs Want to Please

Dogs have been bred to want to please their owners. This is basic in most dogs and dog breeds. Your dog wants to please you and make you happy, so he’ll do almost anything to get your approval. Training your dog good manners is the way to teach him what makes you happy. Not only that, but your dog will understand how to act in different situations and watch you for cues on how to behave. Training is an essential part of becoming a dog owner and teaching your dog what makes you happy.

Be aware that training and teaching are an ongoing process. Every moment you spend with your dog, he’s learning how to behave in ways that make you happy. Training is also about creating a relationship with your pup—one that’s based on trust and love. So, training is more than just getting your dog to obey and it doesn’t stop when the session’s over…training more about relationship and is ongoing in the time spent with your dog throughout his life.

Training Your Dog vs. Hiring a Trainer

If you’re a new dog owner, or even if you’ve owned dogs all your life, the idea of training a pet can be daunting. You may have tried and failed to train your pup or maybe you’ve become frustrated with the whole process. If you’re at this point, you might consider attending a basic training class with your furry companion. There are times when you and your pup may need to visit a professional dog trainer. You may have become frustrated (as noted above), or you may be facing these issues with your dog:

If you have one or more of these issues with your dog, then it might be time to attend basic training classes together or even consider sending your pup to a trainer for obedience training. These types of behaviors can be dangerous and need to be curbed quickly to keep you, your family, your dog and others safe. However, if you’re just starting out and need some guidance on how to begin basic steps to train your dog, then read on! We’ve done some research to help you find the best methods to try when it comes to teaching your dog basic manners. 

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8 Steps to Train Your Dog Basic Good Manners

Here are 8 steps you can use to teach your dog the basic good manners he will need throughout his life.

1. Sitting

Most trainers advise you to start training your dog by first teaching him to sit. This is the most basic cue, from which you’ll teach your pet the other basics.

2. Staying

Once your dog’s gotten the hang of sitting on cue, without expecting a treat, then you can move onto the next basic training, which is teaching your pup to stay. Teaching your dog to stay is more than just teaching him basic manners; it’s also a matter of safety. For instance, the stay cue keeps your dog from bolting in front of traffic or after other animals, jumping on visitors to your home, and more. Staying not only keeps your furry canine friend safe, but it keeps you and others safe, too.

3. Lying Down

Teaching your dog to lie down is another basic lesson he needs to learn. Dogs in the down position are more relaxed and settled. Your dog may also feel more submissive in this position.

The lie down cue is another way to get your pup to behave when at the vet’s and in other situations.

4. Coming to you when called

It seems natural that if your dog loves you and wants to please you, he would automatically come to you when called! However, you’ll have to teach him to come when called, just like you’ve taught him to sit and lie down. The come cue is another way to keep you and your dog safe in various circumstances. The goal is to have your dog come when called and teach him that he should expect good things when you call him back.

5. Drop it/Leave it

Another important lesson for your dog. Sometimes dogs will pick up things they shouldn’t have or try to eat something they find in the road, etc. Occasionally he may pick up something dangerous and try to eat it.

The “drop it” cue also comes in handy when playing fetch with your canine friend! If he doesn’t drop the ball or toy, how can you throw it again?

6. Walking on a leash

This is another basic lesson all dogs should learn. Walking nicely on a leash doesn’t come naturally to most dogs, who would instead love to run and cavort in perfect freedom! To teach your pup to walk on a leash, you’ll need a collar or harness. The harness is highly recommended as it doesn’t choke your precious fur baby and it offers you more control of his chest and front lets.

If your dog is new to a collar or harness, before leash training, consider letting him get used to wearing the collar or harness first. This way he’ll be comfortable and used to these before the introduction of the leash. When introducing your dog to the leash, you might let him wear it in the house for short periods so he can get used to wearing it.

7. Place/Bed/Crate cue

This is handy for times you need or want your dog to stay in his sleeping area. This could be a favorite rug, his dog bed or even his crate.

8. Wait

The wait cue is used when your dog needs to stay in place. This can be used when opening his crate, opening the car door to let him out, opening the front door for a walk, etc. This cue can be used in conjunction with other cues. For instance, you can use this cue every time you go for a walk—when you open the door, cue your pup to wait.

Tips to Train Your Dog

Start with the basics: if you’re just starting out, it can be confusing—what do you teach your dog first? The answer is to start off with the basics; these are sitting, lying down, coming, staying, and heeling (when on the leash). These are the cues that teach your dog the basic manners he will need all through his life.

Your puppy is a baby: remember that your puppy is a baby dog! He doesn’t have the full thinking/reacting/learning capacity of an adult dog. He’s not a miniature adult. Keep this in mind when training a puppy. You’ll need to keep sessions short and train more often for your puppy to begin learning the basics.

Come to training sessions with lots of patience: whether your dog is a puppy or an adult, you’ll need to have a lot of patience when it comes to training him. Each dog learns in different ways and at his own pace. Be sure to bear this in mind and adapt your training sessions to fit your pup’s learning capacity, age, etc.

Consider exercising your dog before a training session: if you have a high-energy dog, you may have trouble keeping his attention during training sessions. High-energy dogs tend to always be on the move and don’t appreciate keeping their attention on anything for long, especially basic training such as sitting or lying down. Even if your pup is a high-energy dog, it might help to give him a short walk before a training session. Exercising will release some of your dog’s energy and he’ll be more likely to be more attentive.

Avoid feeding your dog just before training sessions: if you’re using treats as a reward during training sessions, you may want to avoid feeding your pup a meal beforehand. Your dog will more readily respond to his favorite treat! Not only that, but some dogs have sensitive stomachs. If they feel stressed or are very active after eating, they may need to vomit. So, avoid feeding your pup a meal before training sessions to avoid these issues.

High-value treats:

Stuff you may need: you won’t need any fancy dog training tools to train your pup. Most people simply use a treat (one your dog loves!), a clicker (sometimes used to signal when the dog has behaved/performed properly), a collar or harness and a leash. And remember, you don’t want to use harsh means to train your precious pet. Items that shock or cause other discomfort only work through negative reinforcement. You want to train your dog with love and care by using positive means of reinforcement.

Train your dog in a comfortable, quiet area: be sure to train your dog in an area that’s quiet and comfortable. He may be happier to train in your backyard or in the house if he’s easily distracted by things going on around him.

Repetition is necessary: training involves repetition, so expect to repeat certain aspects of your dog’s training sessions and keep at it until he learns and understands. Use praise, gentleness and patience when training your furry companion.

These are the steps you can take to teach your dog the basic good manners he will need throughout his life. Not only are these training sessions teaching your dog, but you’ll be working with your dog and solidifying your relationship with one another, too. Make it a fun process, give lots of praise and even more, give your pup lots and lots of love.

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Julie

Julie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied Animal science. Though contrary to the opinion of her parents she was meant to study pharmacy, but she was in love with animals especially cats. Julie currently works in an animal research institute (NGO) in California and loves spending quality time with her little cat. She has the passion for making research about animals, how they survive, their way of life among others and publishes it. Julie is also happily married with two kids.

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