When you adopt a dog, you might think that you don’t need to start training them right away. However, there are certain things that they should learn early on.
When you adopt a dog, you need to teach them certain behaviors. These include house training, teaching them to be alone, teaching them to pay attention to you, and practicing recall. You will also need to teach them not to chew on furniture or shoes and to not pull on a leash.
In this article, we will go over the top things that you need to teach your dog to do and not do. These won’t necessarily all be commands or tricks, but rather behaviors that will make it easier for them to live in a home with you. Knowing these basic things will also set your dog up to learn other commands.
As a long-time dog owner and lover, I am going to tell you what you should teach your dog to do and not do. If you take this advice and teach your dog these things right when you bring them home, they will be much better behaved than if you don’t teach these things. Let’s get started!
Most Important Things To Teach Your Dog
When you bring a new pet home, you must start with training right away. You won’t need to teach them complicated tricks or every common command right away. Instead, you will want to teach them certain behaviors and routines that will make it easier for them to live in your home with you.
We will go over some specific things to teach your dog right away. However, the most important thing to implement as soon as you bring your dog home is routine. By following a strict schedule for sleeping, eating, and bathroom breaks, you will have a much easier time teaching your dog some of these important things.
Dogs find comfort in routines, so by sticking to one, they can start to feel at ease in your home. Once they feel comfortable with you, it will be much easier to start teaching obedience commands.
One of the most important parts of making sure your dog can live inside your home with you is house training them. If you can prevent indoor accidents, then everyone in the home, including your new dog, will be happier.
Many people choose to house train their dog using a crate. Crates are great tools for dogs. Dogs should view their crate as a safe space that is all theirs to relax in. If you choose to crate train your dog, then you can use the crate to help with house training.
To house train a dog, you will need to stick to a routine. Take your dog out on a leash (even if you have a fenced backyard) to use the bathroom at the same time every day. Give your dog plenty of time to sniff the area and find a good spot to go to the bathroom. Once they have gone, you can bring them back inside the house.
If you bring your dog outside and they aren’t going to the bathroom even after a long time of sniffing and waiting, you can bring them inside. However, you should put them in their crate. This will prevent them from using the bathroom inside since they will not want to go in their crate.
After about 10 minutes, you can try bringing your dog outside again. Repeat this process until they use the bathroom outside. Every time they go to the bathroom outside, give them lots of praise or even treats. Positive reinforcement will help them understand that they should go to the bathroom outside instead of inside.
Keep in mind that accidents do happen. If you notice that your dog has gone to the bathroom inside your home, don’t punish them. Instead, thoroughly clean the area, take your dog outside, and continue to use positive reinforcement. If you punish your dog for an indoor accident, this could lead to even more indoor accidents, but in areas of the home that are less frequently visited. They will still use the bathroom indoors but will try to hide it from you.
How To Be Alone
The next thing to teach your dog right away is how to be alone. Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety, where they get anxious, upset, and destructive when left alone. Whether your dog will have separation anxiety will depend on its personality, but it can also develop later in the dog’s life.
This will be especially important to teach and practice for dogs that spent a lot of time with owners that were working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your dog got used to you being home all the time. As you begin to go back to work, your dog may show signs of separation anxiety, even if they never did before.
To teach your dog how to be alone, you should start by leaving them alone for short periods. You can try leaving them home alone for five minutes while you step outside. When you come back in, try to ignore your dog. This will teach them not to get over-excited when you get home, and eventually, they will feel calmer about your return.
If your dog does well with being left alone for short periods, you can extend the time. Eventually, you will get to a point where you can leave them all day while you go to work. If your dog does not do well with being left alone even for five minutes, you will need to do some more practice.
For dogs that don’t like being left alone, you can try leaving them in their crate while you are gone. This will only work for dogs that are already crate trained and are comfortable in their crate. If your dog is not crate trained, you can try leaving them in one room of your house while you spend time in a different room. Practice this until your dog is comfortable with being in a room alone. Then, you can try to leave the house.
If your dog suffers from extreme separation anxiety, you can try to medicate them. Oftentimes, dogs only need one or two doses of medicine while you are gone to realize that there is no need to get anxious when you leave. Talk to your vet if you have tried all other techniques and find that nothing works.
Pay Attention To You
The next important thing to teach your dog is to pay attention to you. This is an important reflex that they should have, as it will help when teaching them commands and tricks, and it will help strengthen their recall skills.
Start teaching your dog to pay attention to you by finding out their favorite treat. Whether they are happy with some of their kibble, a regular treat, or some kind of meat, you should find something that grabs their attention every time.
At random times throughout the day, say your dog’s name and give them a treat. Practice this while you are lounging at home, during playtime, while on walks, and at the dog park. With lots of practice, your dog will start to learn to always pay attention to you and know where you are. They will also learn to look at you or come to you when you call their name.
Teaching your dog to pay attention to you is a great first step in teaching other commands. They will know to listen and learn from you because they may get a treat. This is also important for developing recall. Recall is so important because if your dog ever gets away from you or is getting into trouble, you can call their name and they will come to you.
Recall is important for keeping your dog safe and training your dog to pay attention to you when you call their name is the first step in developing good recall skills.
What You Should Teach Them Not To Do
Most experts agree that positive reinforcement is the best way to train a dog. Therefore, there aren’t many things that you need to teach your dog not to do. You should focus on rewarding good behaviors rather than punishing bad ones.
However, there are certain behaviors that dogs exhibit that need to be stopped as soon as possible before they become common or a habit. The following are things that you need to teach your dog not to do as soon as you see them doing the behavior.
Teaching your dog not to chew on things is an important part of keeping the peace when you bring a dog home. Many dogs, especially puppies, love to chew on anything they can access. Popular chewing items in the home are shoes, bags, and furniture. You will want to stop this behavior as soon as you see it happening to prevent everyone in the home from getting upset at the dog.
Likely, your dog doesn’t know that the behavior is wrong. It is not their fault that they are chewing on something, so they should not be punished for it. Instead, use positive reinforcement to reward good behaviors.
If you notice your dog chewing on something that they shouldn’t be chewing on, gently remove the object and give them something appropriate to chew, like a toy. When you take away the object, you can either stay quiet or tell them “no.” Do not yell and do not hit your dog.
Present your dog with a toy that they can chew on. When their interest moves away from the object you took away and they focus on the toy, give them praise so that they know it is okay to chew on that object.
Depending on how stubborn your dog is, it may take some time to teach your dog not to chew on certain items. Try not to get frustrated with them, as they are just learning.
Don’t Pull On A Leash
Another important thing to teach your dog is to not pull on the leash during walks. Many dogs get excited when they get to go for a walk and pull on their leash in response to try and walk faster. This is not good behavior for many reasons.
For one, it can hurt your dog’s neck to pull too hard on a collar. It can also hurt the owner’s arm to walk a strong dog that is pulling. This also makes it so that other people can’t walk your dog as easily. Lastly, if you don’t correct this behavior, your dog will learn that they are in charge and don’t need to listen to you, which can lead to bad behavior in other areas of your life as well.
To keep your dog walking nicely while on a leash, use their favorite treat. Every once in a while during your walk, give your dog a treat. This will keep them looking at you instead of pulling. This not only helps with dogs that pull but can help manage distractions while on your walk.
If your dog is still pulling a lot while on walks, you may want to get a harness for them. Harnesses are great for dogs that pull because instead of pulling on their neck, the leash pulls at their back. This is much safer for the dog.
Some harnesses have the leash attached to the front chest area of the dog. This is a great type of harness to use for dogs that pull because it throws them off balance then they pull too hard. Since the leash attaches in the front, you are holding the leash to either the left or right side of your dog. When they pull hard when using this harness setup, they end up getting turned to one side instead of being able to pull straight forward.
There are even some harnesses that attach to the back and the front. These require a double-ended leash and are the most effective for dogs that pull. If you decide to get a special harness for your strong dog, be sure to work on making them pay attention to you as well, as that will help manage the behavior in the long run.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright