If you want a happy, easy to manage puppy, these are the 5 most important obedience commands to perfect. Get these ones down pat and you’ll have a great family pet and companion. You’ll be able to take your puppy to a multitude of places, without him being a nuisance or disturbance.

Recall: Absolute top of the list is Recall.  No matter where you are, or what your dog is doing, if you can ensure he will come back to you when called, you can keep him and all around him, safe.  It is really important to start in the home environment, slowly moving outside and, finally, to other areas.  Your pup needs to learn to obey, no matter what the environment, distraction, or circumstances.  Dogs definitely learn different rules for different places.  It is critical that he learns to follow this command in a variety of environments.  Don’t set him up for failure.  Start small, in a space with limited distractions.  Only increase the difficulty once he has mastered recall in the house.

Sit: This one helps with everything.  It’s a really good idea to start with getting your pup to always sit before receiving food.  Make them sit and stay whilst the food is placed down, only getting up when you give them the command to do so.  Once you have that down pat, start requesting a sit in different places.  A dog that will sit on command is a pleasure to have around and this command can be used to diffuse a multitude of situations.

Stay: This one is critical.  It doesn’t help if you can get your dog to sit for a second but he immediately rushes off, the minute you move.  There are many times when you will need to have your dog hold a position and stay. This allows you to move away from your pup, without him running wild. Once you have Sit and Recall working, it’s time to push the bar and get your puppy to stay in a seated position, until you call him. As always, we have a small puppy, so our steps should be small. Only move a small distance way (just a step or two), at the beginning.  If your puppy breaks the “sit”, quietly move back and put him back in position. Then try again. Increase the distance over time, eventually moving out of his line of site.

Walk on Lead: Picture it. You want to show off your beautiful baby and arrange to meet a friend at a coffee shop.  On arrival, pulling on the lead, he rushes through the legs of chairs, upending unsuspecting patrons. You won’t be taking your pup back there in a hurry.  Your dog’s experiences and quality of life will be affected by his ability to behave in all environments and, if he walks calmly on a lead, he’ll be a pleasure to take out. Start slowly. Your pup is a baby and you want to take baby steps. Let your puppy examine the lead without it being attached.  Later, attach the lead and let your puppy run around with it hanging loose.  Only then, pick up the lead and start walking with him. Keep changing directions, until your puppy realizes that he needs to pay attention to the direction you are heading. Your goal is to have him walking next to you, on your left hand side, with the lead hanging loosely. Practice at home until your puppy is walking comfortably. Only then take him out to public places.

Leave: Another critical one that can get your pup out of all sorts of trouble.  It can, potentially, save his life. It might be a simple thing, like stopping him from playing with your favourite socks but, what if your pup decides to try and eat something poisonous in the park. Or, what if it’s your cat! “Leave” can be life saving. Set your puppy up for success, by distracting him with treats or games whenever you use the “leave” command. Slowly decrease treats as your puppy begins to learn exactly what “leave” means.

Practice makes perfect, so do these as often as you can. In the beginning, use treats every time and then slowly remove them, replacing treats with lots of praise. In a real situation, you may not have treats to hand, so it is always good to know your puppy will obey irrespective.