The old adage goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That might be the case for some stubborn canines but with persistent commands and practice a good dog can learn at any age. Of course, you want to train a puppy as soon as you bring them home. This will help show them who the boss is from the start.

Most dogs are not only eager to learn but they are also eager to please their “masters.” The strongest asset you can have for training your dog is patience. Your puppy won’t become Lassie overnight but with firm guidance and consistency they can learn what you teach them.

Determine the commands that you will use in training your dog. They should be both verbal and physical. Verbal commands should be simple words like “sit, stay, come, or down.” Gestures should mimic the action you want the dog to follow such as sweeping your hand towards the ground for the down command or holding up a fist for them to stay.

Because dogs react positively to food, rewarding them for good behavior with a bite size treat will help them learn tricks quickly. Once they have consistently responded to your commands, you can wean them off of the treats so that they are ultimately obeying you without a reward.

A dog learns through repetition. This doesn’t mean repeating the command until they perform the trick. Speak the command and use the gesture once. If the dog doesn’t follow, then give them a physical gentle correction into the position you want using the leash and collar or by physically guiding them. What you want to avoid are scenarios that you have saying, “Sit. Sit. Sit” and then they sit. That means they might get used to following the command on the “third sit.” You should only give a command one.

Set aside time for a training session every day. The more you work your dog the quicker they will learn what is expected of them. Another option for training is using a pet clicker. Familiarize the dog with the sound of the clicker then use it following the command. Clickers work best in conjunction with food treats.

After your training session spends some time playing with your dog. This will be their additional reward for a good workout and will help reinforce their learning.