Getting a new dog is an exciting time for the entire family, especially if you're bringing home a puppy. Basic dog obedience classes may be offered in your community but you can train your dog at home by following some general guidelines. Some breeds are quick to learn, including German Shepherds, Border Collies and Shih Tzus, but any dog can benefit from acquiring basic dog obedience skills.
Start your obedience training by getting your dog accustomed to wearing a collar. Most dogs quickly accept this training aid if you choose a buckle-type collar that does not pinch the dog's neck or pull their fur. Avoid using choke-chain type collars and adjust your dog's collar to allow two-finger widths between his neck and the collar.
Hook the 6-foot leash to your dog's collar. A shorter leash does not allow your dog the freedom to obey your commands and a longer leash may be distracting, offering the dog too much freedom. Walk around a bit until your dog realizes that the leash now connects you and him.
Begin training the basic commands. "Sit, stay, down, heel and come" are the first five commands dogs most often learn in an American Kennel Club (AKC) basic obedience course. Work on only one or two tasks per day for a minimum of 15 minutes each day. Add new tasks only when your dog masters the previous ones (See Resources).
Train the "sit" command by standing directly in front of your dog, holding his leash above his head with the excess wrapped around your left hand. With your right hand, hold a treat above your dog's nose and tell him to "sit." Move the treat backward, above your dog's eye level, causing him to look upward and prompting him to sit down. When he complies, give him the treat and praise him.
Teach your dog to lie down at your feet with the "down" command. When your dog can sit upon request, it's time to train him to lie down. Hold a treat in your closed hand just under his nose and issue the command: "Down." At the same time, lower your closed hand to the floor just in front of your dog. Some dogs will lie down immediately; others need slight encouragement by pulling downward on their collar. Reward your dog with the treat and praise as soon as he complies.
Position your dog on your left side in a sitting position with his head beside your left leg. Wind excess slack in the leash around your left hand. Issue the command, "Heel," and begin to walk. Take the first step with your left foot; your dog will learn to associate that with heeling. Encourage your dog to walk beside you with gentle tension on the leash.
Instruct your dog to stay in one place after he can consistently sit. With your dog sitting in the correct heeling position, hold the end of the leash with your left hand and place your right hand, flat, in front of your dog's nose while commanding him to "stay." Step forward with your right foot, turn and stand in front of your dog. Since you didn't use your left foot, he will learn he is not to heel. After a few seconds, step back beside him, praise him and give him a treat.