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10 Things You Must Teach Your Puppy Before They Are a Year Old

Have you ever met a dog at the dog park, or had to babysit a dog for a friend, only to find they had no dog at all? This is because they have not been properly trained. Here are the 10 things you MUST teach your puppy before he’s a year old so you have the best dog on the road!

 

Ok – we’ll start with the basics…

 

Toilet training. We all know it’s important to teach your puppy where to go to the bathroom, but it’s just as important to teach him to let you know WHEN he needs to go to the bathroom. You might think it’s easier to teach the puppy to go at set times (after meals and just before bedtime), and that’s true. However, there may be times in your dog’s life (such as when they are unwell) that they may just need an extra pit stop.

 

It is a very good idea to teach your dog to alert you when he needs to go outside. Alternatively, you can teach your dog to respond to your question “need to pee?”. No seriously – if you ask this question every time they go out to do their chores, eventually they will associate this phrase with going to the bathroom. So when you ask the question, they’ll either be indifferent, or jump in ready to go. Trust me – this comes in very handy later in your dog’s life.

 

Sit, stay, fall. I feel like I shouldn’t mention this, but I’m amazed at the number of dogs that won’t sit on command! The earlier you train your puppy, the better. Falling can be especially difficult for puppies, but it’s worth persevering. The Drop command is a very submissive action for a dog and can be very useful when small children are around, putting the dog below them in terms of height.

 

Walk on Leash & Off Leash With You. Going for a walk should be fun, but not out of control. Teach your puppy from an early age to stand still while you wear his leash (and collar if he doesn’t wear one indoors). When you walk, your dog should walk beside you – not in front and not wandering around sniffing and peeing. Your dog may have some “free time” (see later in this article), but most of the walk should be by your side and calm.

 

It’s also a good idea to teach your dog to walk beside you without a leash (once you’ve mastered the leash of course). It is best to start it in your own fenced yard before moving outdoors. And always have the lead with you as a backup. However, this is very convenient if your dog somehow gets off or off the leash when you are outdoors. You should be able to call them to you and then put them on a leash or take them home without a leash.

 

Download and release. Throwing a ball or Frisbee and retrieving it is a great game for a puppy. It’s great exercise, it’s fun, and it’s with you! However, it is just as important to teach your puppy to leave the ball or Frisbee when it comes back to you. It’s more important actually – they need to recognize that you are in charge of the game and that the ball is always returned to you.

 

DO NOT wrestle the dog for the ball or frisbee and do not allow them to “play growl”. Tug is a separate game played with a tug. In Fetch they must always pass the ball back to you. If they don’t – stop playing.

 

Dog etiquette. When your puppy meets another dog or cat, he needs to know the proper etiquette to introduce himself. Puppies usually learn this from their littermates, but I have seen many cases where the puppies were obviously taken from their litters too early and have no idea how to behave with other animals.

 

You will know if your puppy has a problem by his behavior when visitors come over. A well-behaved puppy will approach visitors and want a pat or some attention, but doesn’t demand it. Badly behaved puppies demand attention by poking their noses at people or jumping up. If your puppy does one of these, chances are he won’t do very well with new animals either. And that could cause trouble at the dog park! Cut it now.

 

No jumps. Following on from our point about etiquette, you may think it’s cute now that your puppy jumps at your feet to get attention or tries to jump into your lap. But wait until they are fully grown dogs or when they try it on a frail old man and knock him out. No jumping on people – ever.

 

Sharing food and toys. This is a very important lesson to teach if you have or plan to have other animals or children in the home. Some dogs can be very possessive, especially with their food and/or toys. Puppies need to be taught at a young age that nothing is theirs alone – not their food or their toys. You need to start this training when they are young. Take the toy or food away from the dog and have your child give it back to the dog. This teaches the dog that things come back – he won’t necessarily lose them forever.

 

If you have another animal, especially another dog, then make sure both (or all) dogs play with all the toys. No toy belongs to no dog.

 

Go to your bed. Your dog needs a “safe” zone – somewhere he can go to take a break, sleep or eat his food. This can be their bed, a rug or even their cage. Teach them early on to go there on command. That way, if the puppy misbehaves, you can send him away for a period of time with this command.

 

“Leisure. OK – I mentioned this when we talked about leash walking. It’s important that your dog has some free time to run and play and be silly and smell things and pee things. Teaching your dog early by using the word “free” spoken out loud and happily will train your dog that he can now be himself! This is a great command to use at the dog park. You also need to have an “off” word so they come back to you when it’s time to go home or back on the leash. Whether it’s calling their name, or “come,” or another word you use.

 

Who is responsible. If you’ve been able to teach your puppy all of the above behaviors, then you’ve taught your dog who’s in charge – you!

 

If you teach your puppy to be a well-behaved, well-mannered puppy, then you will have a dog you can be proud of later in life.

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