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Puppy Power: Mastering 5 Essential Cues

March 25, 20243 min read

Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exciting adventure filled with cuddles, playtime, and plenty of learning opportunities. One of the most important aspects of puppy training is teaching them essential cues that will set the stage for a lifetime of good manners and fun! In this guide, we'll explore five fundamental cues every puppy should learn, all achieved through the power of positive reinforcement.

Puppy training

  1. Sit: Teaching your puppy to sit is a foundational cue that helps with impulse control and good manners. Begin by holding a treat in front of your puppy's nose, then slowly raise it upward. As their head follows the treat, their bottom will naturally lower into a sitting position. Once they're sitting, reward them with the treat and praise. The key to a solid sit is rewarding them in that position. With consistent practice and positive reinforcement, your puppy will quickly learn to sit on cue.

  2. Come: The recall cue, or "come," is crucial for your puppy's safety and your peace of mind. Start indoors in a quiet environment with minimal distractions. Call your puppy by using a "special word" in an enthusiastic tone. The special word is better than "come" which is a word we use often without rewarding them. When you use this special word and they come to you, reward them with treats and praise - every time! Gradually increase the distance between you and your puppy, practicing in different locations with varying levels of distraction. Always make coming to you a positive and rewarding experience.

  3. Stay: Teaching your puppy to stay is invaluable for their safety and manners. Begin by asking your puppy to sit. Hold out your hand, palm facing them, and say "stay". Take one step back, come back to your puppy and reward them with a treat. Gradually increase the distance as your puppy becomes more comfortable. Reward them for staying in place, even if only for a few seconds at first. Remember to release them from the stay with a cue like "okay" or "free," followed by praise and treats.

  4. Leave It: The "leave it" cue is essential for preventing your puppy from picking up or ingesting harmful objects. Hold a treat in one hand, a little bit out of reach. When your puppy looks away from the treat, reward them with a different treat from your other hand. Eventually you can bring the treat down lower and lower into puppy's view. Add the cue "leave it" or "chill" when you present the treat in your hand. With consistent practice and positive reinforcement, your puppy will learn to leave items alone when asked.

  5. Focus: Teaching focus on walks is key to really good leash skills. This cue is initially taught by rewarding when your puppy does it spontaneously - on their own without being cued. While out on a walk or while sitting outside, say "yes" and reward your puppy each time they look at you. Suddenly, your puppy will begin focusing on you more and more. Why? Because it pays well!

Conclusion: Mastering these five essential cues—sit, come, stay, leave it, and focus—lays the groundwork for a well-behaved and fun puppy. Through positive reinforcement training methods, you can build a strong bond with your puppy while instilling good manners and communication skills that will last a lifetime. Remember to keep training sessions short, fun, consistent, and rewarding for both you and your puppy. With patience and dedication, you'll be amazed at how quickly your puppy learns and grows into a confident and well-trained dog.

Want to learn more on training your puppy? Check out our Puppy Life Skills E-Book Here

Katherine Davidson, CTC, CSAT, FFCP (trainer)

Founder and creator of Dog Inspired

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Hey There!

I'm Katherine Davidson​

I love puppies and I'm a total behaviour geek! I enjoy watching new puppy parents thrive in their roles of raising the BEST puppy ever!​

Author, course creator and professional dog trainer from Montreal Canada.

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