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Dog Training Basics

Last Updated June. 14, 2019
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When you get a dog or puppy for the first time, training the dog is an absolute must in order for him or her to act civil, inherit a daily routine, and respond to commands in the right ways.

Just like children, your dog needs to be trained how to behave, as everybody living in your home, including the dog itself will be better off this way.

When dogs are puppies, you should expect them to be untrained and out of control at first.

You may notice urine stains, shredded up paper, and other inconveniences that you should try to prevent further on with proper training of your dog. You will not yet teach your dog how to do tricks or fetch you the newspaper, but you will teach them how to behave more like you and other members of the family, which would complete the initiation of the dog becoming a member, as well.

In this tutorial, we will break basic training up into two halves:

Potty training and obedience training.

Potty training is when you want to teach your dog to relieve his or herself at the right place and time.

Obedience training is when you want to teach him or her to do certain actions on command, such as stay put when a plate of food is present.

Both of these kinds of training are required to have a dog that will behave early on and for the rest of their lives.

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Potty Training

Potty training is required for any dog that lives or spends any time at all indoors.

There are many different reasons as to why that is. You aren’t going to fully train the dog or puppy overnight, and you are expected to see urine and feces in the home even in the middle of training.

The important thing, however, is to have patience and continue to potty train the dog until it develops a cleat-cut potty training routine.

The older the dog gets, the longer it will take for him or her to complete potty training, so this is another thing to keep in mind.

Potty training should commence when the dog is three or four months old.

This is a time where bowel and bladder controls will be established in the dog, making him or her able to control when to relieve his or herself at will.

With that said, newborn puppies that are less than three months old should not be trained.

Not only is the dog able to control bowel movements at that age, but they also do not have the memory and learning capacity to acquire skills necessary to potty train.

Crate Training

With that said, you will need to keep the puppy inside a crate or cage, so that any expelled feces and urine can be contained and it does not get on your floors or furniture in the home.

Don’t force your dog into the crate. Instead, let the dog enter the create at her own pace. Be sure that the crate has plenty of things for the dog to enjoy, such as a bed, toys, and even treats.

Allow the dog to enter and leave the crate on his or her own free will, and only have the dog inside the crate when you have to go to bed or leave the home.

Once your dog is used to being inside the crate, he or she must get used to being confined.

Toss a treat inside the crate to make his or her hear in, and then close it. Even if the dog resists and whines, do not let him or her out.

Wait until the dog calms down and remains quiet for you to leave the room. If the dog still barks and cries, do not return yet. Allow the dog time to herself and then come back.

Throughout the course of the crate training, allow the time away from your dog in the crate to be gradually longer and longer until the dog gets calmer and calmer inside the crate. Only let the dog out of the crate when he or she is calm, otherwise, he or she might find that barking serves as positive reinforcement for escaping the cage.

This way, they are more likely to be calm and stay calm with each visit to the cage. Your dog will also end up barking and whining all night, keeping you up at night.

Some things to consider about the crate is that you should never use the crate to punish you dog.

Crates are meant to be places that are comforting and safe.

If you send your dog to his or her crate after he or she did something bad, he or she will be more afraid and fearful each time he or she has to go in it.

When your dog is three to four months old, you can retire the crate and relocate him or her to one room.

It preferably must be a room that is restricted, giving the dog a very little chance to escape.

If you are worried about the dog urinating on your carpet, consider putting her in a room with hard flooring, such as the kitchen. If the kitchen is too big or allows many different places for the dog to go, buy a pen to keep the dog in, preventing the dog from from going into another room or area of the home.

When you teach your dog to go potty outside the home, there are many things to should remember when doing so:

Maintain A Proper Meal Schedule

Dogs are animals that understand routines and habits.

As they are getting potty trained, it is important for them to only be fed during their proper meals.

There has to be an established time each and every day when they eat, and this is very important so that he or she doesn’t get confused. They cannot eat at 3 P.M. once day and then 1 P.M. the next day.

They need to have a schedule for eating that never changes.

It is also important that you do not ever feed your dog any snacks between meals. If it isn’t time to eat, then the dog should not get any food.

If you give a dog a snack in between meals, they might think it is a meal, and thus the routine for meals becomes less defined to the dog. This is why you should only feed dog when it’s time to.

Take The Dog Out To Go Potty Often

Each day during the course of potty training, the dog must be taken outside for the first thing in the morning.

Then, he or she must also be taken outside every half an hour to an hour. It might seem too excessive, and you might not be thrilled about having to do this, but almost all dogs require it so that they can better understand why they are being taken outside.

During the course of potty training, a dog will relieve themselves any place and time they please, so the more frequent you have them outside, the better they can realize that going outdoors is what is to be expected of them.

Other occasion in which the dog needs to go outside is following a nap or a meal.

These are times in which it may need to go relieve his or herself the most, but it’s still important to never miss an opportunity to have him or her go any other times during the day.

Be With Your Dog At All Times

Raising a pet is just like raising a baby.

Especially when it is very young, you have to be supervising it at all times.

No matter if you are at home, outside the home or in bed, you have to see what your dog is doing so that you have memory of every time when the does relieves itself and where it takes place.

It isn’t enough to just have the dog outside when it goes, as you need to know when it does one way or another. It is also important to not leave the dog unattended in your backyard for a number of reasons, especially when it is very young. Having a surveillance camera or another dog or pet nearby is not enough to keep him or her safe, so we advise against using these measures to supervise your dog.

Pay Attention To Where Your Dog Goes Outside

If there is a spot outside you see her go in, as long as it is on your property, take him or her to that spot to go more often.

Not only will the dog recognize its urine scent from where it went before, but it will more than likely go again there sooner than later.

The dog will develop a habit of going to that spot to pee.

The opposite can happen inside the home. If a dog that isn’t properly trained goes in a certain room to pee, that will condition the dog into thinking that is their designated toilet.

Award The Dog With Positive Reinforcement

This is also an important thing to consider. When a dog does something good, show it to them.

Positive reinforcement should always be given to show that the dog is doing something right. Positive reinforcement can come in the forms of either compliments towards the dog, petting the dog, playing with the dog for an extended time, or even give them a treat or toy that they like to play with.

We know that we have said that snacks should be off limits to dogs during a potty training period at first, but they can be used as positive reinforcement in response to going potty in a place that they are supposed to

If they crave a certain kind of food or treat they like, they will eventually realize what they would do in order to enjoy it. This becomes a habit that laters turns into something that occurs naturally as the dog gets older.

You might be thinking, “If the dog disobeys or relieves his or herself somewhere where she is supposed to go, should I use negative reinforcement?”.

The answer is no.

When a dog does something bad, it will not force him or her to do something good later.

Examples of negative reinforcement include shouting at the dog, slapping it, smacking it with an object, or confining it to a small space or pen.

When a dog does something bad, you simply do not reward it.

Positive reinforcement also means that the dog is learning. With positive reinforcement, the dog is better likely to judge right from wrong than without it.

The more you reward a dog for doing good, the more the dog will do good when it grows up. As mentioned before, there are many ways in which you can positive reinforce your dog.

Obedience Training

It’s one thing to get a dog to go when you want it to, but it also has to learn to behave in other ways, too.

Obedience training involves the dog doing certain actions when you give it a one or two-word order, such as “sit” or “lie down”.

The purpose of these commands is for the dog to stay inside your property, stay out of trouble, and not pursue other dogs, people, or moving vehicles. While you can utilize commands such as “play dead” or “roll over” to get a dog to do what you tell it to, they are not anything to really be of use in tense situations, and thus are not included on this list.

Here are the commands that you should consider getting your dog to learn how to respond appropriately to:

Sit

When you say “sit”, the dog will stay upright with its bottom to the ground.

This is usually the first command that owners teach to dogs.

Sit prevents the dog from moving, and is meant to keep the dog in place in a situation that would otherwise make the dog move away from your property. Such situations where a dog might move and run onto trouble would be when a car rides past the home, or when another dog owner is walking their dog.

“Sit” is a great command that will universally cause the dog to not move and stay safe. You might have your dog on a leash when you walk him or her outside your home, such as around the neighborhood at at the park.

Even so, sit is a great command to keep the dog under control, as well.

Stay

While the purpose is similar to the command for “sit”, “stay” is a command that is slightly different. Instead of just sitting, however, the dog might be walking or standing up.

Whereas the purpose of “sit” is to keep the dog from running towards something, “stay” is meant to keep the dog still while you tend to other matters for the moment.

This is a command that you should practice often with your dog. Command it to stay and see how long it will do so. Wait for a period of time, and hold out a hand to see if he or she will stay.

For future training sessions, experiment with how far you travel and how far the command is ordered. See what he or she does when you walk away or towards him or her. Try other measures by making treats appear and see if your dog still stays. At any time he or she doesn’t stay, do not give him or her a reward.

An example of using the “stay” command would be if the dog needs a bath before entering the home again, and you need the dog to stay still while you retrieve supplies for him or her, rather than have the dog roam around in the backyard or go inside the home.

“Stay” is also a command that is great to have for when you want to examine the dog’s body, or cut its hair. A properly trained dog that is lying down will continue to do so when you command it to stay.

Come

The word “come” is meant to urge the dog to move to its owner.

“Come” is a useful command for dogs in multiple situations, no matter where you are with your dog.

If you are out walking with your dog, and he or she wants to break free for whatever reason, shouting “come” will make them run back over to you. “Come” can also be a command that is used in the home and in your backyard.

If there’s a place or room where you do not want the dogs to be, saying “come” will retrieve them.

There also may be a time where it is too dark to see at night, and you aren’t sure where your dog wandered off to. This command can also be a good way to make sure your dog is with you at all times.

You should try to teach your dog this command as soon as it knows what its name is, as it is another useful command for preventing your dog from straying off.

Heel

“Heel” is similar in some respect as “come”.

The difference between “heel” and “come” is that “heel” is for teaching your dog to walk closely along with you as you are out for a walk. “Heel” is usually the least commonly adopted command on this list, but it still serves a great purpose by keeping your dog near you and away from any potential danger.

This is a great command to have if you do not own a retractable leash.

“Heel” allows the dog to walk right in front of or next to you. If you live in a city or other crowded neighborhood, your dog will be safe from clueless pedestrians, oncoming cars, and other potential threats that could do a lot of harm if your dog is not careful enough.

Drop

The “drop” command teaches your dog to take out whatever he is eating or holding inside his or her mouth.

Dogs often develop a habit of carrying things inside their mouths, whether it be papers, food, food packaging, toilet paper, tissues and even hazardous items that it might retrieve from a kitchen cupboard.

Some dogs can possibly choke by chewing plastic items, so it’s very important that they understand the dangers of plastic by telling them to drop something that could potentially kill them.

Over time, their habit of carrying small objects fizzles out, and what they limit themselves to carrying are only their toys and chews.

Do not try to force the item out of the dog’s mouth. This gives that dog the impression that you want to play with him or her. Commanding the dog to drop the item should be the only means to getting a dog to let go of it.

Conclusion

By the end of obedience training, and by the time that the dog is six months to a year old, he or she should be able to relieve him or herself and obey your voice with next to no problems.

Do not worry about the dog failing to never be able to learn basic dog obedience and etiquette. He or she will fit into the family at a positive pace and live happily alongside other family members.

Training your dog to behave in the right ways is a long and arduous number of months for you and the whole family.

The point of having your dog trained in this way, however, is to allow him or her to get situated as a loyal member of the family, to be sure that he or she doesn’t cause trouble or to get into trouble.

There are advanced techniques that you can teach your dog as well, but we recommend only using the basic techniques as mentioned in this article.

These are techniques that every dog owner should enforce on their dogs.