Let’s say you’ve just brought home an adopted dog or puppy.

Where do you even begin as far as training?

It can be overwhelming, but I absolutely love the process of working with a new dog.

I love the process of teaching the dog how to live in our crazy world. I love attempting to provide enough exercise.

I love helping a dog achieve “calm.”

This is why I love fostering dogs. It’s also why I always want to add another dog to our family.

Where I start with dog training

My dog Ace of Spades

I always start with a long walk whenever possible. Like, literally as soon as I get the foster dog home we head out for a walk.

Some dogs are too young or too old or too sick or injured or recently spayed and can’t go, but if we can walk for even 10 minutes, we do. An hour is even better.

For training, I begin with potty training. And also prevention, prevention, prevention.

I prevent chewing, marking, fighting and counter surfing by supervision, exercise and using a crate/kennel.

The rules are carefully shaped by preventing unwanted behavior and allowing opportunities for good behavior.

If a dog is either on a leash or in his kennel, he’s not going to have an accident. He’s not going to chase my cats. He’s not going to chew my shoes.

Here’s my general order:

1. Long walk right away and lots of exercise every day

2. Potty training

3. Kennel/crate training

4. Basic rules

5. Teaching the dog his name

6. Basic obedience

Some of the rules I slowly teach:

Dogs sit before I put their leashes on them. They don’t barge through doors.

I expect a calm household. Very little playing, wrestling or running indoors.

No chasing cats.

No begging while I eat. Dogs sit before eating. No charging the food bowl.

I begin teaching the dog his name if he doesn’t know it. Saying it and giving food and attention.

These are the things I start with, and more.

It is a lot, but I have high expectations for calmness in my apartment.

Freedom is earned, even just being off the leash when I’m home is earned.

I do not feel sorry for a dog recently sprung from a shelter. He made it out; he is one of the lucky ones.

I use a lot of food rewards and affection for reinforcement. And toys. I say “no” a lot, firmly but calmly. But I try to pause and let the dog think for himself.

I am constantly working on my patience.

So that’s where I begin.

Where do you start when training a new dog?

And doesn’t Ace look so young in the picture? That’s when he was about a year old. 🙂

Related posts:

How to potty train a puppy

How to prepare for a foster dog

Kennel training a dog