Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Your Puppy Needs To Know, by Dr. Jen

So you just came home from the shelter or breeder with a cute new puppy. He is curled up on your lap, or maybe falling all over himself running around in the yard, and your heart is so full of love that you know you'll never let him go.
But sadly, many puppies like this will end up at the shelter, often because their behavior became unpleasant as they grew.

Fortunately, a few training commands can help your puppy grow up to be a loved family member, instead of a nuisance. I recommend that you find a good trainer for either private lessons or group lessons. There are also many books and videos with training tips. Look for a method that focuses on reward-based training, and where the corrections are not harsh, for a good bonding experience with your pup.

Sit and Down

Your dog knowing how to sit is invaluable. Once he has learned it, practice in many places and situations, especially with other dogs and people around. Having a dog sit can help calm an overexcited mind, or redirect behaviors such as jumping up on house guests or pouncing on a much smaller dog, Teaching “down” also gives you another tool to ask him to do something calmer.


This is a biggie. If your dog slips out of the house or off his leash and heads for a busy street, having the “come” command reliably trained can save his life and prevent injuries. Using it when he's headed for a scared dog or child can make for happy neighbors! Always praise and/or reward him when he comes to you, even if it wasn't right away.

Leave it

This one can save your dinner if he can reach it before you can. Or it can save your dog if he's headed for something disgusting or dangerous, like a snake!

Kennel (or crate or bed)

Having your dog go to a kennel or bed on command is very useful. Sometimes you might need him out of the way, with a friend or child visiting who is afraid of dogs, or when he is begging for food and you want him away from the table. If you are house training, the kennel can be very useful when you are gone.

Walk nicely on a leash

There is nothing fun about being dragged down the street by an 85lb dog who just saw a squirrel! Your puppy can start learning right away that you only go forward on the leash if it is loose. He doesn't have to do a perfect “heel” unless you want him to, but you should be the one deciding where you go when you walk.

Although all you might want to do with your new family member is play, spend just 10-15 minutes a day working on these commands. Keep the training sessions short, and don't introduce too many new things at once. Be patient and consistent, and your cute little furball will remain a loving and welcome family member for many years to come!

Written by Dr. Jeni Bansel, DVM

Read more or contact Dr. Jen:
Jeni Bansel, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Charleston, SC  |

Dr. Bansel services towns in and around Alachua county including Gainesville, Hawthorne, Alachua, Newberry, Micanopy, Hawthorne, Ocala, Starke, Archer and High Springs.

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