Skip to main content

How to train your puppy at home to be an obedient dog

Puppies love to learn. It’s why they sniff your hands and couch and romp around your home, exploring every inch of their new space to find the comfiest spots to nap and play. At some point, it’s essential that pet parents begin a more structured puppy obedience training regimen. Training your puppy can be a bonding experience, and it helps build confidence and reduces the number of pups re-homed or returned to shelters. The experience should always be a positive and fun one. It’s not about changing a pet’s playful and curious demeanor but putting them in the best position to succeed and live a safe and healthy life.

For example, a dog who learned how to “stay” and “wait” is less likely to run into the street. Training a puppy by yourself can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider this your lesson plan for puppy obedience training.

woman teaching a dog to sit outside
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When to start obedience training for puppies

The earliest you’ll be able to bring a puppy home is eight weeks. That might seem too young to start training, but experts at VCA Hospitals suggest you begin puppy obedience on day one. You’ll just want to keep it simple at first, sticking to basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” Formal obedience training can start around six months.

corgi puppy sitting on pavement
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How do you teach a puppy to be obedient?

Each puppy has a unique personality and will catch on to certain aspects of training right away while needing help with others. However, there are a few common pieces of advice trainers and vets typically offer.

Be patient and positive

Think about your experiences in school. How did you best learn? Did scolding teach you anything, or were you at your best with positive and patient teachers? Your puppy also needs the same patience and encouragement. These commands may seem simple to you, but they are brand new to your pup. Using rewards and plenty of praise will increase your bond and make her eager to listen to and please you.

Keep your eye on the clock

Because puppies have short attention spans and can be easily distracted, it’s best to limit training sessions to five minutes three times per day. That’ll give you plenty of opportunities to teach new skills and practice old ones, but your puppy won’t get bored or frustrated in the process. Try to end each session with your puppy nailing something, so you can give her a treat and make her excited for the next positive training session.

Consistency is key

Puppies thrive on consistency and routines. Remember, they’re still learning what words mean. If you say “stay” during one session and “wait” the next, the pup will get confused. Use the same commands each time. At first, you should also accompany a command with a treat. Then, follow up with a secondary reinforcer, such as “Good dog” or a pat on the head.

Say the command once and treat your dog. Common first commands include:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Leave it
  • Come

As time goes by, you’ll be able to introduce other important skills, like not pulling on a leash, as well as tricks, such as rolling over.

Mix it up

Though consistency with words and treats is essential, you want your puppy to be adaptable. The rules, such as leaving food instead of picking it up, will apply whether you are at home or having a picnic lunch in the park. Take your puppy to different places, like parks, beaches, and friends’ homes, and work on skills there.

Wean from treats

As much as your puppy loves treats, eventually, it will be time for him to understand he doesn’t get food for everything. When your puppy is consistently mastering a command, vary the frequency with which you give a treat. Always tell the puppy, “Good dog,” or pat him on the head. Ultimately, your fur baby wants to please you, so praise is just as good as a treat.

Work through kinks

Training a puppy is a journey that’s about progress, not perfection. There will be ups and downs, and that’s OK. Remaining patient and continuing to treat should help. You can also enlist the help of a vet or trainer if you and your pet need extra support.

In conclusion

Puppy obedience training is a process, but it should be a fun one for you and your new pet. Stay positive and reinforce good behaviors with plenty of treats and praise. Dogs love to please their humans, so establishing yourself as a caring pack leader will enhance the trust and bond between the two of you. Puppies are brand new to the world and your home, so keep training sessions short to avoid overwhelming them. Simple commands, like “sit,” “stay,” “leave it,” and “come,” can be taught as early as eight or nine weeks. Use the same words each time, but mix up the environment, so your puppy knows you’re leading the way regardless of where you’re hanging out. Eventually, you’ll be able to wean your puppy from treats—your love and praise will be all she needs.

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
What you need to know about your cat’s swollen lip – what causes it and how to help it heal
These are the most likely causes and best treatment options for your cat's swollen lip
Woman petting cat

Your sweet furry friend is a wealth of enjoyment and entertainment — from funny sleeping positions to those precious purrs. Cat behavior can be somewhat of a mystery for even the most dedicated kitty lovers, though, and those feline feelings can lead to physical manifestations that puzzle us.

If you've ever looked at your cat and noticed a swelling on the upper or lower lip, here's what you need to know: This common occurrence isn't something to worry about, but it isn't something to ignore, either. While your vet checks your cat's health, you can read up on this confusing condition. Here's what causes a cat's swollen lip.

Read more
Best guard dogs: These 7 breeds will protect you with their life
These dog breeds are some of the best personal guards you'll find
An Akita sitting on the bed

Most dogs are loyal and loving animals. That’s why we know them as humans’ best friends. They’d do anything for us. For some dogs, “anything” means protecting us with their lives. And these breeds make the best guard dogs. For many of them, it’s instinctual. They’ve evolved to protect the family they love. You’ll notice these pups keeping a watchful eye on your property. They may bark to alert you when your company arrives or the mail gets delivered.
Remember, guard animals mean well. They aren’t trying to be vicious, but instead, they want to keep you and your home safe and sound. Some prospective pet parents want this quality in a dog. If that’s you, consider these breeds that make the best guard dogs.

What is the easiest guard dog to train?
There's a whole group of beasties that are often referred to as the guardian breeds — many of them make this list. Those animals with a predisposition toward defending and alerting will likely also learn their duties quickly. However, you'll also need a pup who has been properly socialized. Remember, you only want your guard to go into protection mode when there's a serious threat, not every time the mailman stops by.

Read more
This is how long you can expect your new pet rabbit to live
Follow these tips to help your rabbit live a long and healthy life
Multicolored rabbit on carpet

Rabbits are pleasant house pets — a delight to care for when you know how to keep them happy and healthy. Like other beloved animals, a pet rabbit’s life expectancy depends on their breed, diet, and living conditions. What is a pet rabbit's lifespan? Let’s dig a little deeper and answer some important questions, such as how long your adorable pet rabbit lives and how to extend their years.

How long do rabbits live?
Here’s a fun fact: The oldest rabbit that ever lived was 18 years old! By contrast, wild rabbits only live up to about three years, since many die very young. But there's good news. In the absence of predators, pet rabbits have a life expectancy of eight to 12 years. Like dogs, larger breeds tend to have a shorter lifespan while smaller rabbits often live at least 10 years.

Read more