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A Complete Puppy Training Program


Many people contact me to train their puppies and only focus on potty training. They think that a puppy training program is potty training and nothing else. That is not correct. A complete puppy training program includes five main components: Potty Training and Crate Training, Basic Puppy Obedience, Behavior Training, Leash Training, and Socialization, . Each of these components is crucial for a well-rounded puppy.

1) Potty Training and Crate Training

You should begin potty training your puppy and getting it acclimated to the crate so that when you leave the house, it has a safe place to sleep and will not get into trouble. My book Potty Training Your Puppy explains both of these.

2) Basic Puppy Obedience

You want to teach your puppy to sit, down, stay, and come. Those are the foundational commands to teach every puppy, including a vocal command and a hand signal cue. Also, you want to include impulse control, such as the “leave-it” command and “drop-it” so that when the puppy gets something in its mouth, it will listen to you and let it go. This is very important. 

Optional commands can include place, bed, and wait.  We don’t use the commands no, stop, and off. These are not included in a basic puppy obedience training program because they can confuse the puppy and hinder its learning process. Read more about that here. 

3) Behavior Training

This is for minor behavior problems such as play biting, jumping, barking, and chewing. It is not for serious puppy behavior problems such as fear, anxiety, stress, or aggression. Those will need behavior modification, and they typically are not part of a basic puppy training program. 

We set the puppy up for success by using management techniques to PREVENT unwanted behaviors from developing. We don't allow them access to various things that do not help the puppy make good decisions. That's very important. 

4) Leash Training

The fourth component is leash manners and loose-leash walking. We want the puppy to walk on a loose leash near you. We're not teaching the heel command or being too restricted. We want them to enjoy walking and learn it's part of socialization. It's getting out into the community and enjoying all the sights, sounds, people, and other dogs.

You can learn more about loose-leash walking in my book, Leash Training Your Puppy. It explains the technique in great detail and how to get your puppy to walk on a loose leash and behave without reacting to stimuli. We want to prevent that from happening, so I call it leash manners. 

5) Socialization Skills

The final thing you want to include in a puppy training program is socialization skills. The puppy has to learn to become desensitized to a variety of things. They have to go to stores and get acclimated to all different types of noises, shopping carts, forklifts, pallet jacks, and little kids running up to them.

Puppies should be able to adapt to any social situation quickly.  You can take them outside to a coffee shop, and you sit down, and they lay under the table, and they don't cause a fuss. This is a great social skill for every dog. 


Notice how potty training is only about 10% of a complete puppy training program. We've got potty training, crate training, basic commands, behavior training, leash manners, loose leash walking, and socialization skills. If your potty training isn't going perfect, don't worry about it. Focus on all of these other things, and eventually, over time, everything will come together. 

You can't put a child in elementary school and tell the teacher you only want them to learn math. They must also learn reading, writing, English, social studies, history, geography, and science. Having a kid learn just one thing doesn't really make them a well-rounded kid. And it's the same with puppies. For the new puppy owner to focus only on one thing, such as potty training, it takes away from the puppy learning everything they need to be a well-rounded, happy, healthy, and obedient puppy. 

Request a FREE Phone Consultation for dog training in Huntsville, AL.


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