What Do You Want Your Dog to Do? Training Basics for My Puppy

This one “graduated” from puppy class last week. I think his instructor was being generous! 🙂

All the puppies in the class passed the AKC S.T.A.R. puppy program, which is designed to encourage puppy owners to begin training early on. It’s a good foundation.

The puppies have to do things like sit on command (using food is OK), accept a friendly stranger touching them and allow their owners to take a toy away. It’s designed to begin preparation for the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC Test).

What do you want your puppy to do

That being said, Remy was a complete maniac at his “graduation” class. I was having a hard time controlling him on his buckle collar. He’s not aggressive or anything, just so excited with so much energy and little ability to focus.

He was up on his hind legs much of the top doing his “kangaroo hop” and he was jumping and grabbing at everything with wild eyes. He could hardly sit on command even when lured with high-valued treats.

Oh, Remy.

And this was after walking him 3 miles.

I’m realizing how much energy my dog is going to have. He is go! go! go!

The instructor reminded me that large-breed dogs are often slow to mature physically and mentally (oh lucky me!) and that’s just the way it is. Remy will probably mature around 2 or 3 years old, she said. Oh, goodie.

So I told Josh I need to set some goals for Remy so I’m not so frustrated with our puppy. If we focus on 2-3 small things at a time I will see more progress.

He laughed and said, “first world problems.” Goals for your dog!

Yes, he’s right. My life pretty much revolves around dogs and setting goals for them might sound ridiculous to pretty much anyone.

Oh well.

Here are my 3 short-term goals for my puppy Remy and I:

3 small goals for my puppy this week:

1. Spend five minutes per day working on OFF with treats.

I’m not even using the word “off” at this point. I’m just sitting on the ground or on a chair and giving him treats when he’s sitting or lying down and not touching me. My puppy needs to learn some self-control and to give people some space.

2. Spend five minutes per day working on basic obedience.

By that I mean “sit,” “down” and “stay.” And I don’t mean having him sit for 5 minutes. I mean 2 seconds followed by release and praise, then 5 seconds, then another 5 or 10 seconds … all within the 5-minute training session. Remy needs to master these basics before we can move on.

3. Visit two brand new places with Remy.

Could be anything – a new street, a different store, walking a different direction, whatever. I’ll probably choose walking the opposite direction on the trail we normally go to and taking him to the pet supplies store called Muttropolis, in our town.

If I can do all those things this week, it will be a success!

Our 1 longer-term goal for July:

Remy will lie down and stay on command for 5 minutes while we sit on the couch watching TV.

I know, just 5 minutes. But that would be a big step. Remy is … shall we say … busy.

What goals do the rest of you have with your dogs?

What would you like your dog or puppy to do?

If you decide to set a goal for your dog this month, write it in the comments so I can hold you accountable. 🙂

Can you relate to any of my struggles with Remy?

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My weimaraner puppy Remy

34 thoughts on “What Do You Want Your Dog to Do? Training Basics for My Puppy”

  1. Connie Ballard

    Hi Lindsay,
    I totally empathize with your training woes. My beloved Goldendoodle Finn died in February at then tender age of 4, and he was just beginning to calm down. We will be getting a new puppy in August and — thanks to Finn — my expectations are considerably lower than I had 5 years ago. This will help both myself and the puppy. I love your weekly newsletter. You have an honest, reasonable point of view that is very refreshing. I’m sure I’ll be contacting you often for puppy advice in the months to come!

  2. Hey Lindsay

    I have a 15 wk old cockapoo named Brooklyn. I will be working on “leave it”, “stay”, walking on a leash, and potty training. Please send positive vibes my way…. my little rascal is very head strong and stubborn.

    I love your blog!

  3. We adopted a rescue beagle mix female, now 5 months old. She has global fear and I try every day to take her for a walk (she only goes 3 houses down and runs back to our yard. She is so sweet and loving but is afraid of almost everything, except people and other dogs. I continue to work on commands, she listens pretty well especially with treats. I love her so much and am losing hope on her ability to overcome her fear. Your posts help me to understand some of the issues you and others have. Thank You.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m sure she’s making some progress, even if it’s small and hard for you to notice since you see her every day. She may always have some fears but I’m sure you are opening her world.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Have you tried different training collars with him? A Gentle leader, prong collar or Easy Walk harness are things I would try. Has he ever gone to an obedience class?

  4. Hi, I have a 13 weeks old lab who spends most of her time being over excited. I knew lab puppies were high energy but omgosh anytime some comes into a room (even if they were only out of sight for 10 seconds) she jumps and bites and bounces. Any advice on helping me teach her to greet people nicely would be great or even reminding me that this is normal!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It’s normal! My puppy does this too. Really, the only thing that works is totally ignoring him. Shoving him away is fun for him. Telling him “no” is attention. Offering him a toy just gets him more excited or “rewards” the behavior with a game of tug. So we ignore it (by walking away for a few seconds or minutes if needed) and praise calm behavior.

  5. Just remember, as frustrating as it can be, a few years down the road you will look back and laugh and you will wish he had some of that puppy still in him. He’s just a baby/puppy, it takes time to mature. Bailie is three now and still has a lot of puppy that leaks out more often than not.

  6. I’m so glad to hear your puppy thinks being pushed away is a game because so does Willow she comes back with a vengeance. We will try ignoring her and see if that helps. Thanks for your positive thoughts and ideas.

  7. Link’s extreme resistance to loose-leash walking and his incessant barking are all I can focus on right now. I feel like it’s been one step forward, two steps back since we got him. I keep thinking he’s improving, then he’s suddenly barking at people he used to like and choking himself by jumping in directions I didn’t think were physically possible. REALLY frustrating! The other day I thought we were making progress on the training collar, until I saw it had given him a huge welt on his neck! So I bought another harness (the first also gave him welts) and it was like magic! . . . Until I saw the big welt under his arm the next day. I guess my goal for this month is to find a way to make walks fun and pain-free for both Link and I.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh gosh! Our walks are also frustrating! Remy wears a Gentle Leader and I know it is painful for him. He is pink around his nose and the fur is rubbing off. I’m worried he’ll hurt his eyes! I have used the prong collar a few times recently and it’s much better but I don’t want him to pull too hard on that either so I’m using it minimally. I’m hoping an Easy Walk harness will help.

      1. Those easy walk harnesses seem phenomenal in my experience! Well, unless your dog has crazy sensitive skin like mine apparently. I’ve found you can kinda MacGyver your own no-pull harness if you have a normal harness around. Just clip the leash on normally, then thread it through the chest straps so it crosses the front of the dog’s body. I did that when an old roommate asked me to walk his giant chow mix and handed him to me on a regular harness.

  8. Lindsay, that 5-minute down is really ambitious! My girl is 2, titled, and in an ongoing advanced trial prep obedience class. We do 5-minute downs in that class. We did not do anything close in puppy class or when she was that age! If Remy can do it, awesome! But it might be a little much to expect just yet.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh, you might be right. That is a good reminder. I’m probably expecting too much from him, but I thought in our own living room he might be capable in a month! Right now he can do about 5 to 10 seconds. We’ll see where we get. I’d be happy with one minute!

  9. I’ll also add that I think high expectations are totally fine, as long as you can take it in stride when you don’t reach a goal (and that will happen). I firmly believe I have a great 2 year old because I had high expectations of the 2 month old and the 6 month old and the 8 month old. We didn’t reach every one of my goals, but I used them as a means to keep improving and make the progress we could make.

  10. Mom was doing the ‘Relaxation Protocol’ with me when I first came home. Maybe it would be a good way of incorporating lots of the examples of self-control you were talking about teaching Remy?

  11. Remy reminds me of our crazy little foster dog. She needs the same goals.
    Instead of the ambitious Stay command, I expect a Place on her bed. If she has a harder time to settle, I tether her to my chair.
    The shelter asked me to hand feed her, so we do that in the evenings. It’s actually relaxing, ha ha. I also ask Blanca to wait for her breakfast – she made a progress from “starved” jumping to sitting & waiting for an Ok to eat.
    I wish I taught her to ring a bell to go outside. The shelter asked me to potty train her, and she doesn’t have accidents in the house, but it’s me taking her out regularly without her having to communicate. Her next house would probably have to work on potty training again. Bummer.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      How long will she stay on her bed? I end up tethering Remy most evenings just to give us some peace without having to crate him.

      1. I didn’t count the time, but she’s pretty good about staying on her bed next to you. You could definitely watch a movie without her getting into trouble.
        How about Remy? He’s still a puppy, so it’s a big difference between his maturity and Blanca being uncivilized.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Oh he won’t stay on a bed at all. Not even one second. He gets goofy and starts biting the bed. Annoying. He can stay on the ground for maybe 30 seconds. Hence the tether.

          He will lay at my feet voluntarily when I’m at my desk though, for up to an hour when the door is closed so that’s something.

          1. Oh, Remy. I don’t feel guilty about tethering dogs at all. At the beginning, I thought dogs need lots of freedom, but that’s just a recipe for disaster. (The wild, crazed eyes!) They need to be able to stay calm and chill out. Sometimes you need to start with a crate, then graduate to tether. Blanca still requires a leash in the house every now and then.

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