The 5 Most Important Things to Teach Your Puppy in Their First Year

>> 10/15/09

If you've decided you're ready to get a dog or if you already have a new puppy and you feel like things are quickly getting out of control, it's not too late. There are a few things you can teach your dog that will make your life easier and will make them a better pet. This article will show you the top five things that you should teach your puppy during the first year. If you do this, your dog will be not only a pet, he'll be a companion and a friend.

Potty Training

With a new puppy, the easiest way to teach toilet training is through the use of a crate. Obviously you'll need to take the puppy outside during the day, but while in a crate a puppy will not go to the bathroom unless you fail to hold up your end of the deal and take them outside periodically (once in the middle of the night is fine for a young puppy).

Get in the habit of asking your dog if they need to go outside, "need to go out?" This will help them associate the question with the action. As they get older, when you ask the question you can watch their behavior and see if they need to.

Once you're outside, you can even teach a command to tell them to do their business. In fact, I use "do your business" for #1 and "hurry up" for #2. Again, if you start saying your phrase of choice when they start going, very soon they will "go" on command. This is very useful when the weather is unpleasant and the dog really doesn't want to be outside. It's equally important when the dog would rather roam and sniff than take care of business.

Sit, Down, Stay

"Sit" is the easiest of these three commands and should be taught first. Even a young puppy can learn this. "Down" is a submissive position and can be difficult for some dogs. Never punish a dog after putting them in "down" or it can lead to trust issues. "Stay" is more of an advanced command and should be taught after your puppy is six months old. Before that their attention span is too short.


I prefer the "here" command for this. In my opinion this is the most important command to teach your dog for their safety. Fortunately it's very easy. Every time you're outside with your puppy (ideally in an enclosed area or even better on a long lead), have some treats in your pocket. My favorite is dried bits of cut up hot dog in a ziplock. Issue the command and gently draw the puppy in with the lead. Give the treat and lots of praise when they reach you.

Very soon your puppy will come running as fast as possible when you say "here." Eventually you can slowly replace the treats with praise, but always give your dog praise when they quickly return. One warning: never punish your dog after calling them with this command. They should always be enthusiastic when they return to you, and punishment can harm this attitude.


It's nice to be able to train your dog to walk beside you with a leash, however I recommend waiting for serious leash training until the puppy is six months old. Dogs tend to want to pull and go where they want to go. It's your job to teach your puppy that a leash walk is an interactive thing between the two of you. They should be at your side, paying attention to you and where you're going.

Eventually you might even be able to walk you dog without a leash and have them stay at your side as if they were on a leash. If you have difficulty with this training, a basic obedience class can be a huge help.


Some dog owners confuse their puppies by using the same command when they want their dogs to lie down or get off of the furniture or stop jumping on people. I prefer the "off" command for the latter.

With wild dogs, the leader of the den always chooses the highest, most comfortable, and most defensible position. In the home, this is the sofa and bed. When dogs jump on furniture, it is an act of dominance. They are subtly challenging your authority. Let them "win" often enough in these small challenges and they won't listen to you like they should.

If your dog jumps on furniture, give them the "off" command while pushing them away from the furniture. You can and should also use the same command when they try to jump on people (another dominant act). This command is very quickly learned because it's natural for the leader (you) to keep them out of their favorite places.

There are many other things you can and should teach your dog. They are eager to learn if you'll put forth a little bit of effort. These lessons are also a great way to reinforce with your puppy that you're the one in charge. To us this position might seem a little mean, but it's a natural thing for dogs - they need a leader or they will become one. Work on training your dog a few simple things and they will be a great companion and friend.

The 5 Most Important Things to Teach Your Puppy in Their First Year.

Author Resource:

Doug has been writing articles for nearly 4 years. Come visit his latest website over at which helps people find the Mirro pressure cooker parts they are looking for.

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