Guide to Training Your Pup

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Puppies are born with an inherent need to be part of the pack. As they grow, they crave direction and guidance. During their first few months of life, obedience training can turn an unruly puppy to a well-mannered and enjoyable member of the family. Here is a guide to help you train your pup to be the best he can be.

Before starting to mold your pup, read 12 General Rules for Training Dogs. This will help you understand the principles and goals of training your pooch.

Leash training. All dogs – whether they trot along Manhattan's Upper East Side or run free in the countryside – should know how to walk on a leash. Forget about fancy "heeling," where the dog's shoulder aligns perfectly with the dog-walker's knee. We're talking here about a simple partnership in which the dog and the person on the other end of the leash can get out together in the fresh air without a major struggle.

Sit. The "sit" exercise is probably the most practical skill you can teach your dog. Whether you're waiting at the curb of a crowded street or competing in an obedience trial, you'll thank yourself (and your dog) for taking the time to master this exercise.

Down. The down command is probably the most useful command that an owner can teach his dog. A dog who lies down on command to receive food and treats will usually be respectful of his owner. If your dog is fearful, teaching him to lie down and relax is a first and necessary step in desensitizing him to his fears.

Come. Coming to you when called is one of the more important skills your dog can learn. Although we strive never to put our dogs in unsafe situations, the "come" (or "recall") command can avert a car-dog collision, deer chasing or other hazards.

Stay. The "stay" command assumes that your dog will maintain her position (whether sitting, lying down or even standing) until you release her. Without this skill, all you're technically asking when you say "sit" is that your dog touch the ground with her hindquarters and spring right back up to the chase.

In addition to teaching your dog basic commands, learn the lessons involved in crate training as well as house training. Both are very important parts of training your puppy to be an acceptable member of the family.

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