Whether you are a new puppy owner or seasoned, the key to a happy and successful relationship with your dog is training. Dogs are social, pack animals that usually want nothing more than to please you as they thrive on recognition and praise.

Training your dog should always be fun and rewarding for both of you. A dog who is trained in basic commands is a happy, safe and well-behaved companion.

You do not need to be an expert in obedience training in order to train your dog to understand basic commands. All you need is time, patience and dedication.

Before you start training your dog, you need to understand the following ground rules. Following these rules will help to make the training experience more enjoyable for you and your dog.

  • Be consistent: Use the same word every time for each command so as not to confuse your dog. Also, if a behavior, such as jumping on the couch, is not allowed one day, do not allow it ever. Dogs do best when the rules are clearly defined.
  • Practice: Set aside some time each day to practice the basic commands, especially when beginning your training. Most experts recommend practicing for short intervals multiple times per day- for example, two five-minute training sessions. Be careful not to over practice in any one session, as your dog may become bored.
  • Allow time for fun: Make sure that you let your dog simply be a dog at times. Dogs love to run and play, and they need to spend time with you having fun.
  • Use praise and reinforcement: Always praise your dog for good behavior, and only reprimand your dog when you witness the misbehavior. Reprimanding or punishing your dog after the fact will not have the desired effect. When reprimanding your dog, simply say “no“ in a calm, level voice. Do not yell at, hit, kick or otherwise physically punish your dog.
  • Stay calm: Use a calm tone of voice when giving commands, even if the dog is not responding. Never give a command in a threatening tone unless you want your dog to learn not to follow the command.
  • Give commands once: Do not repeat a command or your dog will learn not to obey until the second or third command is given. If you give a command, wait for the dog to respond, and then help the dog succeed if necessary.
  • Use one or two word commands: One word, one syllable commands are best.
  • Choose a release word: This word is used to give your dog permission to do something, such as breaking a sit or stay. Many people use the word “ok“ or “free“ as a release signal.
  • Consider a class: A puppy kindergarten or basic obedience class can be beneficial for many reasons. It will teach you how to properly give and demonstrate commands as well as teaching both you and your dog how to communicate with each other. Classes also provide a valuable socialization opportunity for your dog.