“Sparky, sir. Reporting for duty.”
Much like people, dogs require basic social skills and manners to succeed in the world. Here are the top 5 skills and behaviors that you should be teaching your puppy from an early age.
1) Sit, stay, and come: These basic instructions are handy in a wide variety of situations. Start in the house and then add distractions, so that your dog will perform them anywhere. (Yes, even at the vet!)
2) Walking on a leash: It might be alright to keep Fido off the leash if he lives in the backyard, but the day will come when Fido will need to leave the house. If he pulls, then consider an Easy Walk Harness, which will help stop pulling without causing pain.
3) Crate training: Getting your dog comfortable with being in a crate can be helpful if he needs to be confined due to an injury or if you need to travel with him. Unfortunately, there aren’t any airlines yet that let dogs walk up and down the aisle mid-flight.
4) Not Jumping Up: It might be cute when your little puppy jumps up and puts his paws on you, but it’s less funny when he grows up to be a 90-pound Rottweiler. This is a habit that is often learned at an early age and can be hard to break later on. Even if you like the behavior, other people and children should feel safe around your dog, and not have to worry about getting pushed over.
5) Toes, ears, mouth, etc.: Handle your puppy’s feet and toes. Lift his ears and have a look around. Then open his mouth and check out those pearly whites. Doing these things frequently might seem unnatural, but getting your dog comfortable with being examined and handled will help him when he gets older. Toenail trims and vet visits don’t have to be stressful, but they do require some training, especially if your dog is a nervous nelly.
If you are truly committed, then check out the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program. This training program ensures that your dog is a well-refined canine companion, ready to take on the world in the most polite way possible.