Training Your Puppy: Start Early

Written by: Isobella Ash

In our latest blog, author and trainer Janet Menzies talks about early training for puppies and why keeping it simple works. Read her tips for teaching “Come”, “Sit”, and “Heel”. Take a look below…

As you can see, Penny the poster pup is settling in well to her role helping me write my next book. She recently starred in a video for the Orvis We Love Dogs Festival, demonstrating that young puppies naturally understand what you are teaching, and learn it very quickly.  And Trainer Jan Menzies Talks Early Training For Puppies And Why Keeping It Simple Works. Read Her Tips For Teaching “Come”, “Sit”, and “Heel”.

Unfortunately, Penny is already pushing the boundaries and giving me lots of opportunities to show how you should act to establish the early lessons.

Keep It Simple

Some simple commands for a puppy are: come; sit (“hup” if it’s a spaniel); and heel.  They are really all you need, and they are very natural to the pup at the beginning.  But pretty soon your sparky puppy will want to test all this out and discover what works and what doesn’t work. This is the moment puppy needs your leadership.  Pup is setting out on a long and amazing journey with you, and you both need to get off on the right paw.


So you should plan for success.  Make it easy for your puppy to shine, and praise him when he does.  Choose your moments carefully, simple commands for a puppy should ask him to do what he is already halfway to doing.  That way you are pushing on an open door.  For example, don’t ask him to “come” if his attention is distracted by something else much more interesting than you. At this point, he is otherwise engaged and may not even hear you. Instead, wait until he is looking at you or already thinking of coming over to check you out, and then ask him to come.  Before he’s had a chance to consider, he’s already done it.

Teaching Sit

It is the same with teaching sit.   For obvious reasons, puppies gaze up at you attentively while you are getting their food ready.  Just hold the food bowl a bit higher and further behind his head, and hey presto you have the sit.  Then put the food bowl down for pup to eat. Add in whatever word you are going to use and make this his life-long routine.  The association between sitting, the instruction to sit, and food will help you in all your future training. 

Teaching Heel

The other really important instruction to get established while puppy is still young is the heel. So many people tell me their dogs pull on the lead, and the reason for that setting in as your dog grows up is because it hasn’t really learnt to heel when it was a pup. 

Teaching heel is easy if you remember the idea about pushing on that open door.  Young puppies are usually quite clingy and follow you about getting under your feet all the time.  This is an ideal moment to turn into a heeling exercise.  While puppy is following you around, tap your thigh and click your fingers and say “heel” at the same time as walking around randomly, frequently changing direction, and slow enough for pup to keep up.  Once pup has got used to these associations, it will be something you can use later when you introduce the lead and will prevent all those tug-of-war moments. 

Enjoy your puppy fun, and hope to see you online. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.