Dog & Puppy Training 101: How to Get Started

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Are you needing some help with training your sweet pup? Whether it's private training, group classes, or self-training, we can help you find the info you're looking for!

Every dog needs training—whether they are easy to train or quite the handful. And whether your pet is a brand new puppy or an older dog, they'll need to learn some basic boundaries, commands, and expected behaviors.

I'm sure you've heard the expression, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Well, that just isn't true! Although it's definitely easier to teach a puppy something new—just like it's easier for us to learn new things as a child than in our adulthood—older dogs can still be taught new tricks and behaviors. With enough patience, positive reinforcement, and consistency, any dog of any breed or age can still learn new tricks.

Dog and Puppy Training 101

What is Dog Training?

If you haven't trained a dog before, or not for a long time, dog training experts definitely have a different approach than they did 20-30 years ago! As with most psychology developments, professional dog trainers have realized that dogs learn immeasurably better from positive reinforcement than they do from negative reinforcement.

That said, you'll probably find some different theories out there. But if you do your own research on renowned dog trainers, like Cesar Millan, you'll see the consistency in their advice on positive reinforcement.

The Benefits of Dog Training—is it Right for My Dog?

You might be wondering, "what are the benefits of dog training?" And if it's worth it, or if it's the right thing for your dog. Every dog's needs are going to be different because they are individuals, just like you and me. So the type of training and amount of training needed will be different for each dog. But overall, the answer is yes—it is definitely worth the time and patience for the improved end result.

Dog Training 101 - puppy sit

Seven Major Benefits of Dog & Puppy Training

  1. Builds a stronger bond between dog and owner.
  2. Creates a safer home environment.
  3. Easier and safer to take your dog out in public spaces.
  4. Easier for your veterinarian to work with your dog.
  5. Helps your dog to be more sociable with other adults, dogs, and kids.
  6. You can help other dog owners with their training needs.
  7. Makes boarding your dog or having a dog sitter a lot easier.

Different Types of Dog Training

There are different reasons for training your puppy or adult dog, and different ways to go about it. Here are some examples of both. Which ones apply to you and your dog?

Reasons for training your puppy or dog:

  • House training – Training your pup to go to the bathroom outside instead of in the house.
  • Crate training – Teaching your dog to go in their crate when you tell them to—like at night for bedtime, or during the day when you leave the house.
  • Socialization – It's crucial for dogs to be socialized around other dogs, kids, and adults—especially at a young age—so they don't become aggressive for no reason.
  • Basic commands – Teaching your dog to sit, stay, and lie down will help in many different situations.
  • Loose leash walking – Teaching your dog not to pull you around every time you go for a walk.
  • Come when called – Training your pup to come back to you the first time you call their name.
Dog Training 101 - group class

Types of dog training:

  • Private training – You can pay for a private trainer, so your dog gets complete undivided attention. This may be needed in situations where a dog is aggressive toward other people or dogs, and cannot participate in a group setting. Companies like Petco offer both private and group training.
  • Group classes – You may think your dog isn't getting as much individual training in a class, but they do receive other added benefits. Dogs do learn through observing other dogs and mimicking "the pack." This setting might help your pup learn quicker. Plus you'll receive the bonus of socialization for your dog.

And if you're looking for a local pet trainer, check out Just type in your zip code, and you'll see all the local pet care professionals near you.

Dog Training 101 - adult dog sit

Dog Training Basics for Beginners

If you decide to self-train your dog at home, you'll want to know some of the most important basic commands you should teach your dog. Another famous dog trainer, Brandon McMillan, wrote a book entitled Lucky Dog Lessons: Train Your Dog in 7 Days. This book talks about the seven basic commands every dog should know.

What are the seven basic dog commands?

  1. Sit – This command should be taught first because it's the most natural for dogs, and it's the easiest to learn.
  2. Lay down – Not only is this command a great transition to other tricks like rollover, but it also helps you control your dog. They aren't going to run off too quickly from a "lay down" position.
  3. Stay – This one is crucial for your dog's safety. If they know how to stay, it will keep them from running away, or running into traffic.
  4. Come – This command is also extremely important for your dog's safety. If you want to let your dog off-leash at all, they need to be able to "come" when you call.
  5. Heel – This is helpful for dogs of all sizes, but especially for large dogs. They will want to pull you when going for a walk. But if you teach them to stay behind your "heel," you can "loose leash walk," which is much more enjoyable.
  6. Off – Teaching your dog "off" will help them learn to stay off the furniture, and not jump up on your guests or on you.
  7. No – Anytime there's something you don't want your dog to do or take, a simple "no" is important for them to understand.

Puppy Training

When training a puppy or an adult dog, remember to have patience, use positive reinforcement, and stay consistent! These three tips will help you and your pup succeed.

What is the first thing you should train your puppy to do?

First of all, make sure to keep all training sessions short—about 5 minutes each. And only about 15 minutes a day total.

The most important, most natural, and most basic commands that you should teach a puppy first are sit, stay, and come. They are able to learn these at the youngest training age.

Dog Training 101 - puppy sit and shake

What is the best age for puppies to start training?

There are different ages when a puppy can learn specific commands and tricks.

  • 7-8 weeks old: Sit, Stay, and Come. You can also start some initial leash training indoors with your puppy. And get them used to general handling and being touched. Practice rubbing their ears and paws, and always reward them.
  • 8-10 weeks old: Crate Training. Help your puppy see their crate as a safe, calm, peaceful place. Always use rewards to help them have a positive association with it. And try putting them in for just 10 minutes at a time.
  • 10-12 weeks old: Learning Not to Bite. Dogs learn about the world by putting things in their mouths—much like toddlers do. But you'll want to avoid having them bite your hands or ankles. So if they start to do so, try giving them a toy to chew on instead.
  • 12-16 weeks old: Potty Training. This is the one you've all been waiting for! The most important part about potty training is to establish a bathroom routine so they know what to expect. Let them out frequently in the beginning, and always reward them with a treat when they go to the bathroom outdoors.
  • 6 months old: Continue to Strengthen Training. Puppies are old enough to learn any type of trick or command at this point. But it's much easier to begin basic training as young as possible to establish good habits.

How Much Does Dog Training Cost?

If you're ready to hire a trainer or join a training class, here are some of the average costs you can expect to pay.

  • The average cost of dog training is $30 to $80 per class, with most being about $50 per hour.
  • Dog obedience training schools cost $200 to $600 per week, while boot camp kennel training runs $500 to $1,250 per week.
  • Prices average $120 per hour to train a service dog for support, therapy, or protection purposes.

Time to Get Started

When is the best time to get started with your dog's training? Today! There's no day like the present, and the sooner you get started with training—at home, or with a professional—the sooner you and your pup can both enjoy a more peaceful relationship together.

For more articles about pet parenting advice and dog-friendly activities, check out the Blog at

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