basic dog training

basic dog training

If you live in one of the 60 million American households that own a pet dog, you understand the time and dedication it takes to train one.

Dogs make great company and can even be a home security system. Properly training one to understand rules and cues doesn’t happen overnight. With the right approach and tools, however, it can be easily attained.

Thinking about getting a new puppy or dog, but aren’t sure where to start once they come home? Read on for a basic dog training guide to get your new canine adjusted in no time.

What You’ll Need

To make training as seamless as possible, prepare yourself with the training proper equipment.

At minimum, this includes a leash, treats for positive reinforcement, and toys for entertainment. Unless your dog will always be outdoors you’ll also need a crate. Place this in an easily accessible location that makes your new pup feel comfortable.

Don’t forget helpful accessories, too, like bags for picking up waste or a grooming brush if your new furry friend has long hair. You may also consider gates for separating access to rooms.

Preparing with these items ahead of time saves headaches and having to make multiple runs to the pet store.

Prepare the Environment

Before you bring your new dog home for the first time, let alone train it, you need to prepare its new home. You’re bringing an animal into completely new territory and it’ll have an easier time learning if an environment is already established.

Set up where your puppy’s food and water dishes will be located and choose a location for its crate. Adding these items after introducing a pup to its new home or frequently moving them around can cause confusion.

Of course, if an item’s location ends up causing issues you should move it to wherever necessary. Be mindful if you have other pets that will be sharing space with your new puppy.

Set Rules Early

Your new dog is almost certainly going to break some of the rules, and that’s okay. It’s how they learn.

Just as you prepare your dog’s new space for arrival, also decide which rules you’re going to enforce. Try to establish as many as you can think of ahead of time as opposed to making rules up on the fly.

Is the couch off-limits? Are they allowed upstairs? How will reprimanding be handled for acts like chewing furniture or shoes?

The sooner these rules are made, the faster a dog will learn. Just like young humans, it takes time for a puppy to learn. Be stern, but not aggressive or threatening.

Encourage and Discourage

Basic dog training isn’t just about preventing rules from being broken. While you may find yourself constantly discouraging your puppy to stop or get down from something, you should also be practicing encouragement.

For example, positive reinforcement should be used anytime a dog successfully completes a difficult or uncomfortable task. This could be getting a bath or going to the vet. Make sure to differentiate each task and not to over reward a dog.

Use a positive verbal phrase each time you encourage your dog they’ll recognize.

For discouragement, the best practice is to redirect bad behavior into another activity rather than scare them by loud verbal cues. You can simply ignore certain bad behaviors as your puppy will eventually outgrow these acts. Of course, aggressive acts like biting should have zero-tolerance.

Using the Leash

Training a puppy with a leash isn’t just as simple as putting it on and expecting your dog to start walking. Practice attaching it to the collar inside the house and use a positive verbal command to indicate when it’s time to go outside.

While it may seem reflexive, don’t jerk or pull on a leash if your dog tries to take off. Instead of engaging in a game of tug of war, remain still and hold a steady grip. If your pup comes becomes too energetic or aggressive from seeing another animal, have a treat handy to redirect its attention.

There are many types of leashes. You can also opt for a harness depending on your dog’s size. Do be mindful that, although popular, retractable leashes can be dangerous.

Potty Training

The best tools to use for training your new puppy to go to the bathroom is the crate and a consistent feeding schedule. By eating around the same times every day your dog will naturally develop a routine to relieve itself.

Understand some dogs may have bladder conditions you may not be able to tell from the surface level. Watch for any signs or symptoms beyond just a regular accident.

Keep stain remover handy. You can also use training mats to lay around the house or inside the crate if know you’ll be gone for an extended period of time.


Once your pup is comfortable going outside and is potty trained you can begin socializing them with other dogs. Start slow by having them observe fellow canines on walks.

Besides the park, you can also set up scheduled play dates and enroll in dog obedience school or daycare classes for further training.

Use common sense when having your dog interact with others. Not all dogs will get along and some may have a disadvantage due to the size of the breed. Recognize if your dog becomes uneasy around new people and give them time to adjust.

Understanding Basic Dog Training

No two dogs are the same. Even if you’ve had ones in the past, understand your new puppy has its own personality and will take time to learn everything.

In addition to all the tools listed for basic dog training, perhaps the most important one is something you can’t find at a pet store. Patience.

Be prepared your new puppy likely will bark during quiet time, chew items, or have a bathroom accident. It’s natural and is part of learning.

Basic dog training doesn’t end at a certain age. You can always teach new tricks and cues, especially if you move or introduce other pets to your household.

Interested in more tips for training your new furry friend? Check out the rest of our “how to” dog guide section for similar articles!


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