Whether you have a new puppy or an older dog, all dogs can learn new tricks! And they need to.
Anyone can buy a dog and then just let them to do whatever they want – but this leads to endless problems, stress and heartache. 💔💔💔
Most of the poor dogs sitting in rescues right now are there simply due to lack of training. Some of them end up being put down because they can’t find a new owner who has the time, skills, knowledge or even just effort to train them. This to me is an absolute tragedy and truly heartbreaking; it’s also avoidable.
You don’t need to be an expert to teach your dog some basic – but vital – lessons to give them a safe, rewarding life.
Here’s a quick run-down of some dog training tips that are vital to teach your pooch!
- Their name
- Toilet training
- No jumping up
- Being handled
This list of the top 9 vital things to teach your dog isn’t in any order, because each one is important to your dog’s wellbeing and safety. Let’s have a deeper look into each one and see why they are vital dog training lessons for all dogs.
9 Important Lessons To Teach Your Dog
1. Why Should I Teach My Dog To Sit?
Every dog needs to know how to sit when you tell them. Training your dog or puppy to sit when you want them to is helpful when you are at home, out and about, trying to bathe or groom them and even when trying to put their food bowl down!!
Training your puppy or older dog to sit can also keep them safe in certain situations; for example, I always make my dogs sit before we cross a road – even if it’s clear – because then it gives my dog a chance to be more aware of their surroundings, calm down some of their excitement and to pay attention to me rather than where they are going.
We’ve had plenty of young puppies over the years that have been super duper excited to have some dinner or even a bowl of water – so excited that they jump up or run around my ankles sending me flying and the water/food crashing to the floor! I’m then pissed off, the pup hasn’t been fed and I’ve got more cleaning to do. Not ideal!
If you can get your dog to sit before you give them their food, you are teaching them to be calm and patient and also stopping yourself from getting stressed or wound up.
Once your dog or puppy knows how to sit, you can move on to training them how to wait or stay, depending on which wording you chose.
2. Does My Dog Need To Know How To Wait/Stay?
Getting your puppy or dog to stay (or wait) will again, help you keep your sanity and keep them safe. Like I mentioned above, you can use the stay/wait command to
- make mealtimes easier,
- stop them from moving around when taking them on/off the lead,
- stop your dog from leaping out of the car,
- teach them not to bulldoze your visitor as the enter the house,
- wait calmly before meeting new people/pets/other animals,
- and more!
I absolutely love using the wait command with my dogs – apart from their name and sit, it’s probably the training command I use the most!
Having been the owner of different dog breeds over the years, I have also found that using the sit & wait command is a lifesaver for hyperactive or super excitable dogs. Funnily enough, the hyper dogs we have had – Staffordshire Bull Terriers and a Springer Spaniel – do fantastically well with sit & wait training and it makes life with a hyper dog so much nicer!
3. Why You Need To Train Your Dog To Come To You
Recall training your puppy or dog is pretty important! Teaching your pup or older dog to come to you when you call them is vital for their safety when they are out and about walking or off-lead exploring. Having your dog completely ignore you can be really, really annoying!!
If you need to bathe them, brush their hair, get them on a lead or even feed them and they won’t come to you it’s easy to get pissed off with them.
You getting pissed off at your dog when they aren’t completely trained isn’t fair on them.
Another thing that happens a lot is that people let their dog have a run around the park without teaching them recall, this means that as soon as your doggo sees another furry friend they’re going to bolt and do a runner. Meaning that they might not even come back to you at all.
This could lead to dog fights, your dog being lost or God forbid, even injured. Having to spend the next 3 hours trying to get the little shits back on a lead so you can finally go home for Netflix and Chill may be annoying, but at least it’s one of the less dangerous situations to be in.
I highly recommend training your puppy/dog to learn how to come on command.
There are loads of benefits to them knowing how to come when called, but the main one is their safety. Knowing that you can call your dog back to you whenever there is a stranger/another dog or even moving vehicles around will give you peace of mind and ensure your fur baby stays safe and well! That’s why I truly believe that training a dog the come command is a vital lesson for dogs of all ages.
4. Train Your Dog to Give
Another vital dog training lesson is teaching them the give command. All dogs will take things they aren’t supposed to – whether it be your slippers, the kids toy or your steak! Teaching your dog from an early age that they have to give things back when asked is very important. Getting your dog to give back the sock rather than eat it is a lifesaver!
Your dog might pick up something toxic or poisonous, so teaching them to give it back rather than having to scream at them and leap over furniture chasing them round the room is so much better for you both! The quicker you can get that dangerous thing out of their mouth the better – but the calmer you can do it will make a difference too, it keeps you both calm and your bond intact.
We had a dog years ago that was obsessed with trying to eat socks – having 6 kids to run around after at the same time meant I couldn’t keep my eyes on her 24/7, and sadly she did end up eating a few socks over the years. Thankfully though, they always ended up making their way back out in the end (yak). 🤮🤮💩💩
Training her to give on command though meant that she didn’t eat 99.99999999% of the socks she tried to! I’ve heard of dogs who have constantly eaten socks and ended up having surgery to remove them, I’ve even heard a horrible tale of a dog who got so blocked up that they passed away – it makes me shudder just thinking about it.
As extreme or unlikely as these examples might be, they are enough for me to happily add the lesson of give to my vital list.
5. Why It’s Vital For Dogs To Heel
In case you didn’t know, we own Dogue de Bordeaux, and they are big, very strong dogs! We also have a little Pug and walking the dogs singly or in a group without any of them heeling would be a complete disaster.
Having a small dog is no excuse not to train them to heel, pull on the lead or criss-cross in front of you every two seconds!
A small or medium-sized dog who can’t walk nicely on a lead will end up driving you mad and probably trip you up multiple times. They will even get stuck under the buggy and get run over a few times… (ahem in my defence I had just started training them and I had no choice but to take the baby in the buggy with me every time – no dogs were maimed in the process!)
A big (or even a medium-sized strong dog like a Staffy) will pull you down the road on your face. They will yank and yank, giving you severe shoulder, arm and back pain. You will get so pissed off you want to give up and never walk them ever again. They will terrify passersby (even though they are friendly and just want a kiss) because to most people a dog pulling on a lead is a dangerous, uncontrollable vicious dog.
The more bad reactions your dog gives out, the more people react badly in return and the more stressed and anxious you will end up being. This leads to your dog picking up on your anger or anxiety and then they become anxious or angry too! It’s a vicious circle when lead training isn’t working. Any stress or anger between you and your fur baby is bad, it will destroy the love and trust you have already built, making you start in a worse place than before, making training even harder.
You need control over your dog on a walk, even the little ones. Training your dog how to walk nicely at your heel, on a loose lead, sticking to one side of your body is the ultimate dream for most dog owners. It’s one of the most Googled training problems and one of the most enviable training tricks.
A puppy or dog needs to know how to behave on a lead to keep them safe, you don’t want them suddenly pulling you into the road in front of a car, or steamrolling over to a strange dog and possibly getting into a fight. The only way to have a calm, enjoyable, stress-free walk is to train your dog how to walk on a lead properly!
Lead walking to heel (or at least walking nicely and calmly) is a vital lesson your dog has to learn, its also one of the most frustrating, time-consuming and straw that breaks the camels back kinda training,
As a dog mom to big and little dogs, I know that heel training is a vital training lesson for you and your dog to learn. For both of your sakes.
6. Train Your Puppy To Know Their Name
This sounds obvious and it is, your dog needs to be trained to know their name! As people we just sort of forget the fact that dogs and babies don’t know their names, but at the same time, we subconsciously teach our dogs their names by constantly saying it to them! 😕
If your dog doesn’t know their name, how are they supposed to know you are talking to them??
How does your dog or puppy know that you want them to sit/wait/eat/heel/not run into the road if they don’t know their name? They don’t. So they will just do whatever they want and completely ignore you – leading to potential danger to them and you getting frustrated!
Other training tricks are made so much easier when you say your dog’s name first, for example: Memphis, sit. It would be complete anarchy in our house if our dogs didn’t know their names! At the moment I can say Peanut out, Evie in, Memphis bed in one sentence and 9 /10 times they get it right.
If I just said out, in, bed then none of them would know the eff to do!
Teaching your dog to respond to their name is vital!
7. Toilet Training A Dog Is Vital
I think the reasons why toilet training your dog is vital is pretty obvious so I won’t go into much detail.
You don’t want an adult dog peeing and pooping all over your home. End of. It’s dirty, smelly, unhygienic and bloody stressful! It’s bad enough when you have a new pup and you are toilet training, its damn hard work and if you have kids, a job, and a life then it’s even harder to do. You can forgive puppies for having accidents in the house because you know they are babies and haven’t learnt, but it’s so much worse when they are full grown and still doing it due to lack of training.
Imagine you have an adult dog who just uses your kitchen floor as their personal loo, or even better – your bed! You get pissed off with them and even shout at them. I mean, they are an adult so they should know better! Right?! Well no, not if they haven’t been trained properly! How are they to know??
You can’t put up with an adult using your entire house as their toilet! It will be stressful for you, make your dog anxious because they will pick up on your anger and make them distressed and confused. This will be unfair to them and create ann unhappy life for you both.
How is an adult supposed to know they can only pee or poop outside if you don’t train them to do it?? Sadly, a lot of dogs in rehoming centres are given up because of poor house training – people can’t handle the constant peeing on the settee and so rehome their dog.
I’m not knocking anyone who is struggling, or has tried multiple things, or even gone to the vets to see if it’s medical or even old age… but those who haven’t even tried to train the dog are hardly giving the dog a chance, are they?
A dog will get scared, anxious and confused if they don’t have a set place to be able to relieve themselves. It isn’t fair to them to suffer because of lack of training.
Toilet training your puppy or older dog is vital training! It’s a basic lesson and must be done.
8. You Need To Stop Your Dog From Jumping Up
This dog training lesson is on my vital list because we have big dogs and when they jump up they can knock people over! You will have probably heard or read that all dogs should have perfect manners – yeah, ok but that doesn’t always work in the real world. Some people think kids should have perfect manners too but that doesn’t happen either!! (Trust me, I know!)
Teaching your dog/pup not to jump up is vital because not only might they knock someone over (possibly resulting in moaning, crying or frightened visitors) but also because some people just don’t like dogs. I know. Don’t like dogs?? WTF?! How can anyone not like dogs?? 😕😕
Anyway, even small dogs jumping up can be annoying to people – I love dogs but don’t want to be leapt at every time I’m move! And let’s face it, jumping up in someone’s face is bad manners and I do want my dogs to have good manners (even if they aren’t perfect).
Imagine walking your dog in the park and they run up to a stranger and bowl them over? Or worse – jump up at a kid. The stranger will instinctively think they are being attacked and react badly. They may even lash out and hurt your dog! A kid will probably get knocked on their bum and cry, they may even be scratched by an overexcited dog. You don’t want that to happen, you would feel embarrassed and guilty.
No one wants their dogs to be a nuisance to others or to hurt anyone! This is why it’s really important to train your dog not to jump up at people whenever they want to.
9. Dogs Need To Get Used To Being Handled
As fur parents, we need to look after our pups in every way we can and that includes trips to the vet… a dog who hasn’t been trained to be handled could end up getting frightened, hurt or even snappy. You don’t want any of those situations!
It isn’t only vets that need to handle our dogs, we do too! If we need to wash our dogs, check their teeth, clean their ears, dry up slobber, or give them tablets how can we do that safely if we don’t get our dogs used to being handled?
A friend of a friend had a collie once, they didn’t train it to do anything! I heard a lot of horror stories about that poor dog – horror for the owners, yes but also for the poor dog!
You always think of collies as being clever, quick and mild tempered but not this one! She had to be muzzled every time she went to the vets, her owners had to wrestle the poor dog just to be able to get a collar, lead and muzzle on. Someone always ended up crying and someone always bled. She became reserved, anxious, scared, jittery, withdrawn and in the end, she became nasty – she bit before she got bit. A very sad existence for the owners but more so for the poor, scared miserable dog!
You don’t want your dog to be like that. To stop your dog from being scared of being touched, brushed, groomed etc, the only way is to train them to get used to it. It will save them (and you) so much heartache in the long run!
I imagine it must’ve been a massively stressful event every time that dog needed to go out – or to even stroke and hug her – I hope I never have to go through something similar!
It’s vital that your dog gets used to being handled, the best way is to start them young. But if you can’t start them young, with an older dog start with small lessons and then step it up.
But What If I Lose My Shit?!?! I Hear You Say!
Getting pissed off with your dog does nothing for either of you. You get annoyed, they get afraid and anxious, your loving bond starts to decay. Not good. Not fun and not what you want.
Getting angry at your dog will lead to making the training worse because your dog will remember the last time they tried to learn to sit and you ended up screaming at them. Instead of a fun, bonding time with you, they will just remember that sit means screams. They will be afraid and anticipate screams, shouts and bad things instead of fun, love, bonding and treats.
This isn’t a good situation for anyone to be in. If you are at the point where you are feeling too angry then just stop. Forget the training. If you’re out somewhere, try to keep as calm as you can and get home.
If you really, really can’t do it, get some help. Talk to a friend or a neighbour who has a dog for advice, call your vet and ask them for tips. Call in a professional dog trainer if you must.
Please don’t ever get to the point where you smack your dog, it really doesn’t help. To the dog, it just means that you don’t love them and are a danger to them, it’s cruel and uncalled for. Constantly losing your temper with your dog is the last straw and in cases like these, it might be wise to even think of rehoming your dog.
Am I A Dog Training Genius?? (Psst, the answer is no!)
I’m not a professionally qualified dog trainer. I haven’t been to college or uni or even a dog training school to learn how to be a dog trainer.
I have had dogs all of my life, I am a passionate learner and am massively passionate about my dogs and learning everything I can to make their and our lives better.
I’m not perfect, never have been and still won’t be in the future, why? Because no one is!
Even the people who have these training certificates get shit wrong, they have bad days, they had to learn the hard way too. A good trainer is someone who has a wide range of experience, can admit their mistakes but can also admit that they don’t know everything.
You dont need to be a qualified expert to train your dog!
A bad dog trainer is someone who just wants to make money, doesn’t really give a shit about you, your dog or their impact on your lives. A bad dog trainer is someone who pretends to be a trainer – or worse does a tick-box quiz online without ever being near a dog and then calls themselves a trainer! Avoid these like the plague!
Like I just said – I’m not an expert. I have made lots of mistakes and equally got a lot of stuff right. So, if I can do it, so can you.
I’ve also had times where I’ve completely lost my confidence and refused to even try and teach a dog something – heel training a rescued Rottie with a bunch of toddlers at the same time is one of those times. I had a meltdown. I just gave up and cried my eyes out, in the middle of the street. I’m not gonna lie, it shocked the shit out of the kids and the dogs. And it felt like shit.
Everyone has tough times, and it is best to ask for help when you need it. Take a step back, relax, get calm and try again.
You don’t need to be an expert dog trainer to get your dog to learn these vital dog training lessons. You just need to keep trying! Have patience, get confident, learn as much as you can, try different things and cut yourself some slack!
By teaching your dog (and yourself) these 9 vital dog training lessons your dog will learn that you are the boss, their leader and that is what they need and want! You will both feel safe, calm, and happy! Your bond will be strong and your friendship will be unbreakable. 💖