What are the First Things You Should Teach a New Puppy?


Springer Spaniel Puppy Sitting in Grass
“Start training right away.”

That’s what you’ll hear if you add a new puppy to your family.

Good advice, but also overwhelming.

Puppies need to learn their names and basic commands but also how to walk on a leash, where to go potty and how to interact with other pets.

Where to even begin?

I turned to four experienced dog trainers and asked for their tips. You can’t go wrong teaching your puppy the following concepts right away, along with some of the basics, like potty training.

What to Teach Your New Puppy First

1. Socialization.

Puppy socialization is the process of gradually introducing your pup to a variety of people, places and experiences early in life, said Tonya Wilhelm, a professional dog trainer with Global Dog Trainer.

She said socialization is so critical because it can prevent a dog from developing behavioral problems later in life such as extreme fear or aggression.

Even if your puppy does not seem to have an issue with storms, resource guarding or separation anxiety, Wilhelm said problems can develop anytime in a dog’s life.

“In order to help buffer any future phobias, now is the time to develop the ‘no worries’ attitude with common fears,” she said.

To do this, she said to pair potential fears (like storms or strangers) with something your puppy finds valuable such as food or games.

2. Getting used to being handled and groomed.

“As early as possible, you should start to get the puppy comfortable with being handled, restrained and groomed,” Wilhelm said.

Some examples of what you should get your puppy used to include grooming his coat, wiping his feet, brushing his teeth, reaching for him quickly and trimming his nails.

“In these daily exercises, you will be teaching your puppy to trust you and to view these procedures as enjoyable and not stressful,” she said.

3. Self-control.

It’s critical for puppies to learn self-control, especially if they are going to outweigh their owners, said Jamie Ohman, a dog trainer with Siriusly Awesome Dog Training.

“Many of the behaviors our dogs do that we find annoying or unacceptable result from a lack of self-control,” she said.

These behaviors could include pulling on the leash, jumping up on people, chasing squirrels or stealing food from countertops.

To begin teaching a dog self-control, Ohman said she begins by teaching the puppy to wait in doorways. She also begins teaching loose-leash walking and manners around the food bowl.

4. How to be calm in a crate.

Teaching a dog to remain calm in a crate is important for potty training, but it can be helpful in other situations too.

Dog Trainer Abby Harrison gave some examples where crate training is helpful such as when you need your dog contained at the vet or if you have lots of people over and can’t have your dog “underfoot.”

“It is really easy to keep up the being calm in a crate if you do a little bit of it each day,” she said.

Harrison is a trainer with SitDogStay in Houston.

5. His or her name.

“If you can’t get your puppy to pay attention to you, you sure won’t get your puppy to sit, lie down or come when called,” said Tanzi Leary, a dog trainer in Baltimore. Her web site is DogCrazyLady.com.

This is why teaching your puppy his name is so important.

“Say your puppy’s name, and when he looks at you, say ‘Good!’ and give him a tiny piece of food,” Leary said. “Repeat many, many times, until your puppy quickly looks at you.”

She said if your puppy doesn’t look at you, just make a kissing sound to prompt him and then reward.

“Don’t repeat your puppy’s name over and over if he isn’t responding. That just makes him learn that his name doesn’t mean anything, the opposite of what we want.”

What would you add to the list?

Let us know in the comments!

Want more puppy training tips? Check out these blogs.

5 Ways To Prepare For A Puppy

Tips For Socializing A Puppy


About Lindsay Stordahl

Lindsay Stordahl is a blogger for dogIDs.com. She has a black Lab mix named Ace and two naughty cats named Beamer and Scout. Lindsay owns a pet sitting business called Run That Mutt and also maintains the blog ThatMutt.com. ... Add Lindsay to your Google+ circles at . You can follow Lindsay on Twitter @ThatMutt.

  1. hey Lindsay, Thanks for such an informative blog post. So I recently became the mother of an 8 week old puppy retriever. He is great however there are a few things that need to be ironed out before it gets out of hand. A few of the things you mentioned here, really describes his behaviour.
    I would take up a professional for the help but they always seem overpriced and really expensive. I recently read a blog post about an online training course that seemed really genuine: https://www.retrieversareus.com/house-training-golden-retriever-puppy/. But Im not sure it is and I wanted an experts advice on wether I should explore this avenue first before throwing cash into professional assistance.
    Would really appreciate any help you can provide as its now something that I need to take action on.
    phew long comment but its all appreciated, honestly.

      • Yeah, NS right Gook? Faye barking at a fake internet slut like she’s friends with the twat or something.
        Cook’em both up with some hot dog (pun intended) sauce and ‘feed the starving in africa’

  2. House training a puppy need not be that difficult and can actually be enjoyable. Playtime with your new puppy can be fun, but did you also know that it could be the first step in your puppy’s education as well? Even in the wild, young wolf cubs learn about their world through play and your puppy is no different. By utilizing play as a tool you can effectively teach your pup all the basics that will help her be a well-behaved dog when she grows up.

    There are three basic things that a puppy – even one as young as six weeks old – needs to start learning. The first and most useful of those things is simply the word, “No.” You will be using that command repeatedly during your relationship with your dog and so it is very important that he knows it from the start.

  3. I read your article on What are the First thing you should teach your Dog and I agree on socialization is important as well as being handled to prepare them for the groomers and self control is a must as well as being calm in a crate, and your puppy should know its name cause you’re right if your puppy can’t pay attention how is it gonna listen to lie, sit, come is a big one and stay Thank for your input.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.