Puppy School: 15 Commands our Puppies Learn
When our puppies-in-training go out in public, people are often surprised at how well they behave. They obey commands very well! Of course, the older the puppy, the better behaved it will be. In human terms, think toddlers and terrible twos as compared to pre-teens, for example. Our puppies-in-training are between 10 weeks and about 16 months old, the average age they return to campus for formal training.
The commands that our older dogs learn depend on whether the dog is being trained as a guide dog or a service dog. But all of our younger puppies start out learning basic obedience commands, including these 15 listed below. Puppy raisers learn how to teach these skills and at what age to teach them, and then practice them at home, on outings, and at puppy raiser meetings. We must say, our dogs are pretty smart pups!
Here are the 15 commands our puppies learn and the approximate ages they learn them:
Early house training
- Busy busy – teaches the puppy to relieve on command
3 – 6 Months
- Come – taught on leash; perhaps the single most important command puppy will learn
- Down – puts the dog in a relaxed and resting position
- Drop It – teaches the dog to release whatever is in its mouth
- Harness On – teaches the puppy to have a positive relationship with its coat, in preparation for a future harness
- Heel – defined as the dog standing or seated at the handler’s left side
- Sit – one of the most basic obedience commands that helps puppy to refocus
- Stand – a calm, stationary position that lets puppy know it is “on duty” and to wait for further instruction
6 – 9 Months
- Close – teaches pup to sit close between the knees, in preparation for the Down/Under command; useful for crowded places such as public transportation
- Place – used to direct pup to lie down on a mat or bed, keeping puppy from being underfoot; useful at work or classroom
- Stay – taught in increasing measures of the three Ds: distance, distraction, and duration
- Switch – teaches puppy to switch sides before a closed doorway to prevent a door from hitting the dog as it closes
- Turn – used to position the pup under a dining table so it is comfortably facing outward
- Back – teaches the dog to walk straight backwards; teaches “hind end awareness”
- Down/Under – used at chairs or benches to tuck the dog under and keep him out of the way
Once older puppies return for formal training, they learn additional skills directly related to a career as guide dogs and service dogs. Meanwhile, some will be chosen to serve as breeders, facility therapy dogs in military facilities, emotional support dogs for veterans, Gold Star Family dogs for families of fallen veterans, and other meaningful careers. Regardless of where they work or play, their future handlers are thrilled to live with, rely on, and love such smart, well-trained, well-behaved dogs.