Before you try to teach your dog cool tricks, make sure he knows the four vital commands: “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “leave it”. Puppies have short attention spans, though, so teach him one command in a session and make sure to limit training sessions to short, ten-minute segments several times a day.
First Vital Command: Sit
This is one of the most practical commands you can teach your dog. Begin in a quiet room; use a small piece of food to lure his nose to point upward and move it backward until he naturally lowers into a sitting position. As soon as he is sitting, give him the treat. Repeat, but this time say the word “sit” so he knows what is expected of him.
Once he is used to this, take him out in another location and repeat the exercise.
Second Vital Command: Stay
Once you have your dog in the sitting position, you want him to understand that he needs to “stay”. This is a little trickier and you will need to have a lot of patience.
First, tell your dog to sit. Once he is in the sitting position, delay his reward for a second at first then add longer periods each time. If he starts to move, say “uh-uh” and give him a reward for staying in place. Once successful at waiting, move on to taking a step away from your dog at a time and make sure to reward him each time he is successful.
Third Vital Command: Come
Begin this exercise in a place where your dog can’t escape, such as in a fenced-in backyard or a room in your home; otherwise, keep him on a leash until he has mastered the “come” command.
Kneel on the ground with your arms away from your sides, say your dog’s name, and cheerfully yell, “Come!”. To make sure he knows he’s not in trouble, try “Come! Good boy” before he even comes. Never punish your dog when he comes to you, even if he has done something bad, and always praise him for coming when called.
Fourth Vital Command: Leave it
Teaching your dog to “leave it” could potentially save his life (or the life of some other little critter). This is an important command that could take weeks or even months of training to master.
Begin by having your dog sit down and placing a treat about three feet in front of him. If he tries to get the treat, firmly say, “No – leave it.” When he successfully leaves it, pick up the treat and give it to him. Each time, make him wait a little longer for the treat. Then place the treat a little closer to him (but stay close to it in case he tries to snatch it up) and practice the same intervals once again.
How to Teach Your Dog to “Sit”
How to Teach Your Dog to “Stay”
How to Teach Your Dog to “Come”
How to Teach Your Dog to “Leave It”