Is Your Dog Smarter Than a Puppy Kindergartner?

Does your dog know more than a 3-month old puppy kindergartner?

Of course she does, but I thought it would be fun to share what my puppy Remy is working on in Week 1 of puppy classes.

I know some of you also have new dogs or puppies and whether or not you take your pup to training classes (I recommend it!), these are some things you can work on at home with a dog of any age.

Puppy Classes Week 1

Is your dog smarter than a puppy


Here are four things we’re working on this week.

1. “Watch Me.”

This simply means to make eye contact. A dog looking at you can pay attention.

I shortened the command to “watch.” So it’s, “Remy, watch.” You hold a treat right up to your face and the moment your pup makes eye contact, you give the treat. Practice 10 times in a row each day. Very simple and works well.

“Remy, watch.” Treat. “Remy, watch.” Treat.

Do your dogs know this one?

2. Coming when called – back to basics.

Anyone have a dog who ignores you when you call him?

Going back to the basics is a good idea for reinforcing “come!” because it’s probably the most important command to teach a dog.

With the puppies, we held a treat right up to their noses, ran backwards and THEN called them once they were already driven to follow us.

So it’s:

  • get their attention
  • run back
  • call the puppy
  • reward!

Come = fun & treats!

Other tip: Play “puppy in the middle” calling the puppy back and forth between two people.

3. A new situation each week.

For our puppy homework, our class is encouraged to have our puppies walk on a new surface every week. This could be things like sand, snow, pavement, rocks, shiny floors, concrete, leaves, whatever.

Sometimes new surfaces can seem scary or at least surprising for puppies so it’s good to expose them early on. See Puppy In Training’s post on this here.

Remy the weimaraner puppy

For those of you with older dogs, it’s still a good challenge to try to introduce them to something different or new each week in general. This is fun for the dogs but also continues their ongoing socialization and experiences.

For example, visiting different dog friendly stores or cafes, walking in a different neighborhood or standing on a random “obstacle” like a picnic table during a walk. Remy walked on a new walking path last week (pictured above).

4. Selecting a consistent release word.

A release word is the word that signals to your dog the training exercise is over. So if he’s sitting, he should sit until you say “OK!” or “Free!” or whatever word you choose.

I have always used “OK!” with my older dog Ace. Some advise against OK because it’s used so often in normal conversations and could potentially confuse the dog. This has never been a problem for me and I’ve chosen “OK” as Remy’s release word too.

You may or may not want to use the same release word for multiple dogs. It’s not a problem for my two, with Ace being so much older. Update: I ended up changing Remy’s release word to “break!” because “OK” is too common of a word in conversation and he was taking advantage of that! Haha.

The other basics we worked on this week were saying our puppy’s names for treats and luring them into a sit, but I figure most of your dogs have that down!

OK, so how is your dog doing on the above?

Which one could she use some work on? Remy needs lots of work on “come!”

Does your dog know more than a puppy kindergartner?

13 thoughts on “Is Your Dog Smarter Than a Puppy Kindergartner?”

  1. Archer needs to work on “come” too. We’re signed up for a program called Training For Life (free classes for 2 years) at our dog training facility and they have a specific class called “Really Reliable Recall” that’ we’ll be taking in the coming weeks. By the way, our release word is also “OK”, but unlike you we have had a few incidents where our dogs were accidentally released.

  2. Our two know the release command too. we use ‘right’, or ‘ok’, but the situation with them is very clear, they are sitting and waiting, so what we have done is engineered the situation to get what we asked from them.

  3. I use OK, too, but I am thinking about using a different word for the puppy. Hiccup already thinks Link’s name means “come one, come all!” because treats are involved when I call him! Hiccup was absolutely terrified of manhole covers when we first got him, so I’ve also been working on different surfaces with Link to make sure he doesn’t develop a weird phobia like that.

  4. Well, I’m 9 and still working on the look and come when called commands. Maybe one day I will be solid, but Mom doesn’t seem to think so, LOL! We did a lot of training with Bailie when she was in school, you know, helping her with her homework. It was a good refresher for Katie and me.

  5. Lambeau is pretty good at Watch Me, although I have to be careful now not to pull out the treat too soon or he watches the treat and isn’t paying attention to me! He has a solid Sit, in Englush, German, and hand signal. Yes, I’m teaching him some commands in German. My youngest daughter’s dog know Portuguese (her husband is Brazilian) as well as English, so I thought why not make Lambeau bi-lingual, also! He has no fear or hesitation when faced with new places and things. Mostly. He is afraid of the pop tops on beverage cans. Pull one out of the fridge and he backs up a few steps. LOL Come is where he needs work, but we are practicing every day. He’s at the point where I can take him to the big open filed here, drop his leash and let him explore a bit (but not too far away from me), and he will come back when called. He came back a few times the other day when I didn’t call him. He just wanted treats!

  6. Hi: My six month min.poodle,female has started for a few weeks barking at noise in backyard. I have tried with treats etc. to make her stop….and while on walks she is not barking but when she hears working machines etc. she wants to bolt. can you help with suggestions to help stop this…..

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It sounds like she is barking because she is unsure of the noises and a little afraid, same with trying to bolt on walks. Does that sound right? I find it helps my dog if I just keep walking without reacting when he gets startled but if your dog is especially frightened you might want to take it back a notch and avoid noisy machinery (within reason) and then very slowly expose her to more and more noises on walks.

  7. Linn Løkketangen

    Pelle is good at ‘come’ when it’s a game, like when me and my boyfriend are hiding and calling for him to find us. He’s got that down, but I’m far from confident that he’ll come in any given situation where he’s busy doing something he finds much more interesting. As soon as the forced leash season is over here in Norway we’ll work on that for sure!

  8. Sandy Weinstein

    he has the cutest face…my 2 younger girls could use lots, the middle child is okay if i work on it. but if they were loose, they would not come…i have too many things going on, deer, horses, etc. for them to get their attention. they are terriers…love chasing things. plus i live on 11 acres, and their are woods everywhere. so they really need work on this. they will come in the house or when we are in a large pen….

  9. Scott Wollins

    One of the great commands that Shian came with is ‘BY MY SIDE’ – it is a multiple-level command which means COME/RELAX/WALK RIGHT NEXT TO ME – it has come in so handy so many times – and Shian with my help trained Tofi to do it as well – it is like a heel command that tells them to return to you, to slow the pace, and walk next to you or right behind at your pace – very handy – so try it out – By My Side! (alternative phrase would be – Walk With Me!) – It is a great command for crossing roads without having to put them on the leash – yes we do that too! One thing I have found – is that if you don’t take risks with your dogs – they can loose confidence and you can never see how far they can grow.

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