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(reference videos at the bottom of the page!)



SIT - The dog’s hips are on the ground while their shoulders are upright. The Dog(s) should remain in this position until released. Two to five minute stay. If they break the sit and go into a down or stand up, give correction back into a sit.

get yourself and your puppy situated
(without moving) say “SIT” one time
apply very slight upward pressure on the leash
pressure is constant until he sits
as soon as his bum is on the ground, the pressure on the leash is released
without moving, say “good” and wait for one-Mississippi
then move hand and deliver food reward


DOWN – The dog(s) “lie down” on the ground, elbows touching, until released. No time limit on a down. Give slight downward body motion when asking for the command.

get yourself ready and say “DOWN” one time
apply very slight downward pressure on the leash or tap his shoulder blades if your pup needs help
as soon as his body is on the ground, say “good” and then move hand and deliver food reward


HEEL – Walking on a loose leash on your left side. Dog’s collar should line up with your leg at all times. There is no sniffing the ground, barking at or greeting dogs/people, attention and focus should be on you at all times. Dog should sit when you stop. As you stop, say “sit.”

lure with food at puppy’s muzzle level (you’ll have to hunch over)
this will prevent him needing to jump up
allow him to get food every couple steps
walk with food above Winston’s head and deliver food down to him ever few steps
before you stop say “SIT” one time, take two more steps, then stop
as you stop, apply very slight upward pressure
release pressure when he sits, then deliver food reward
if he moves out of HEEL position at your left, lure him back into heel, then reward there
do not reward a sit out of position
this is a fun game! keep it fun

no long walks for puppies! short walking practice should last no more than 10 minutes or so

go for quality over quantity! build good habit in these behaviors slowly over time as your puppy grows


FREE – This is the word that tells your dog(s) he/she can move from the position he/she has been in. This releases your dog to do what they like.

this is the word that tells your dog(s) he/she can move from the position he/she has been in
Your puppy doesn’t have a “stay” yet (too young), but as he gets out of a position like SIT or DOWN or PLACE, you can say “FREE” to make the connection for him
You can also repeat the command (ONE time) and take them back to the position using the leash

HERE – The dog is to stop what they are doing, ignoring distractions, and go DIRECTLY to the person saying HERE. As the dog is heading towards you, praise them “good boy” or “good girl”. Say “sit” as they approach, reward well! HAVE A PARTY! When you say "HERE" and your puppy looks or moves toward you, get excited, praise praise praise, click the clicker, while moving backward and encouraging your puppy... and reward BIG - TIME when your puppy gets to you!


PLACE – This is a boundary stay. The dog(s) are to go to place until released. The dog(s) can stand, down or sit. On place the dog is to be calm. No jumping, barking, or getting off the boundary. If they break the command tell them “no” right away and give corrections all the way back to the spot. No time limit for a Place stay. Use place when guests come over to avoid jumping. Practice this during dinner time to avoid table begging.

this is a boundary stay!
guide him toward place, and say “PLACE” once when you get there
reward when he’s completely on the bed
reward by placing food on the bed
he can stand, down or sit, or play with a toy, so long as he stays on the cot
on place the dog is to be calm: no jumping, barking, or getting off the boundary
if he leaves Place before you say “FREE,” use the leash to guide him back
reward when he’s back on his cot


CRATE – The dog(s) is to go to their crate. This is where they sleep and go when you are not home. This is also used to practice calm and to give the dog a sensory break to decompress (like meditation). Dog must wait for the “free” command to exit their kennel. Dog must enter crate when you say “crate.” Lead your puppy toward his crate, and without moving, say “CRATE” once. Then toss a piece of food into the crate (use the door to keep him inside (gently)). When you can open the door a bit and he doesn’t try to leave, say “good” and put food in the crate (do this every time you get him out of his crate, too!).
say “FREE” when he can leave his crate


GOOD – A verbal marker to let the dog your dog(s) know his/her actions are correct.

No – A verbal marker to let your dog(s) know that what he/she is doing is NOT what you

want, and they need to stop and do something else.

Yes/Clicker – A verbal marker that serves as a placeholder in time for a dog to know what he just did earned reward. “Yes” is always followed up with food.

A neutral tone, a good treat, patience and willingness to work with your dog will go a long way to increase and better your communication and relationship!


  • Only say commands one time 

  • Keep your movements slow and calm

  • When he gets distracted, guide him back to the task

  • Keep sessions between 5 and 10 minutes long (short and sweet!)

  • Potty him before and after every session

  • Crate him after every session for maximum retention!

  • Have FUN! He’s a puppy and everything is a game right now

● What is a reward?

A reward is anything that motivates your dog to perform the behaviors we are asking. The reward is like your dogs “paycheck” for working! Rewards come in many different forms such as praise, toys, and food. Every dog is different so it is important to find what motivates them the best.

Types of Rewards:

1. Click the clicker, then feed. When you click, he should run to you. Do not ask/expect him to stay in behavior if you click.

Click PROMISES a food reward. If you click, you MUST feed him.

2. Reward in position. Do not click, simply say “good” or repeat the command, then bring food to him where he’s at.

3. Reward with a toy or affection, not just food! BUT if you click, you must feed him.

● When do I reward my dog?

Reward your puppy ANY TIME they do something you like! Good decisions, good positions, good attention... reward quickly (they have short attention spans! if you wait too long they might do something else or lose focus) and reward often (puppies need frequent reinforcement!). For the first few days they are home you can reward every time they do the right behavior, after that period you can fade away from treating them so often because you're building good habits.

● Who can reward my dog?

Everyone! As long as the dog is performing the behavior correctly, anyone is welcome to reward.

● Where do I reward my dog?

Reward your dog in the direction you want them to be. Dogs go where the treats go, so use that to your advantage. For example, when performing a down stay, reward on the floor between their front paws so they will stay low to the ground rather than reaching up to get the treat out of your hand.

Tip: Instead of feeding your dog out of a food bowl, use their breakfast and dinner to reward 

them for doing a command. This helps maintain good weight and gets them earning their meals.


Session 1: HEEL and SIT

Get yourself and your puppy situated: you are calm and have the leash in hand, and puppy is on your left sitting (lure him there). This signals to puppy we are about to start training!

Lure him heeling, stopping to sit every 5-10 steps (be random). Refer to Commands page on the procedure for this. 


Session 2: PLACE

Concentrate on the 3Ds— Distance, Duration, and Distractions. Pick one or two of the Ds to work on during the session. Get creative! Distraction options are only limited by your imagination.
(Hint: Distance can include out-of-sight work. Just be careful about doing too much duration while out of sight. Work up VERY slowly, over many sessions.)

Place dog in Place command, reward if dog listens first time.
Keep leash in hand to help him if he makes a mistake.
Remind him “PLACE” one time before adding distraction.
Create or present a distraction from a distance (toss a piece of food or a toy). Reward if dog succeeds.
Slowly close distance between distraction and cot over several repetitions, presenting the distraction closer and closer to the dog.
Reward with every success.
Guide back to Place and repeat repition (with same criteria) if he makes a mistake or leaves the cot. Repeat until dog succeeds, then reward!

Place dog in a command, reward if dog listens first time.
Remind him “PLACE” once before moving.
Move some short distance away (like a single step). Reward if dog succeeds.
Slowly and incrementally, increase distance from dog over several repetitions, but occasionally lowering the criteria to a much much shorter distance to keep up dog’s hope and to remain unpredictable. (We want the dog to never know how far away you’ll go, or how far away you have to go in order for him to receive a reward. Sometimes we want to make it really easy!)
Reward with every success!
Guide back with leash pressure and food, repeat repetition (with same criteria) if he makes a mistake or jumps off. Repeat until he succeeds, then reward!

Session 3: Recall Exercises (choose one or two)

pt. 1: toss food, let him go get it, say “[puppy’s name], HERE” one time, praise happily and move backwards as he runs to you, reward when he arrives!
pt. 2: play “catch” between two people in family (one person holds puppy back as the other recalls and rewards, then switch places!)

** In any interaction or training session, if your dog makes a mistake, repeat that scenario (the moments leading up to the mistake) until your dog succeeds! Then reward and move on. **


*** Side note: Focus on being fair! More pressure can mean more compliance, but it will often result in damaging your relationship with your dog. If you have to help him with the leash more than twice, reassess the scenario and lower the criteria to ensure your pup will succeed. ***

What IS Socialization?

What IS Socialization?

Let’s start with some things it’s NOT:

* letting every human you cross pet and pick up your puppy
* letting every dog greet and interact with your puppy

These are the two biggest mistakes commonly made while raising and “socializing” a puppy.

Primary Objectives of Socialization:

* We want to raise a confident, happy, and resilient adult dog. 

This translates to a dog who is not easily fazed or startled, can handle unexpected or unfamiliar events, can withstand a reasonable amount of social and physical pressure (such as a vet examination) well, and can bounce back quickly from startling or frightening things. A dog like this is mentally sound, balanced, and healthy.

If you do the “don’ts” listed above, you may inadvertently create an extremely nervous, defensive dog. A dog who, while young, had no autonomy over his own body. A dog who was overly manhandled, whose signals of discomfort were completely ignored or overridden because his fear and uncertainty meant “he just needs more exposure to this.” This can create a dog who is fear aggressive, or simply very afraid.

* We want to raise an environmentally neutral dog. (This part is the MOST overlooked!)

This means, we want our dog to see and experience things without losing their ever-loving minds. We want to be able to walk our dogs through a street market or fairground, and they show curiosity without feeling compelled to interact with their surroundings. They can watch and absorb their environment without losing focus on their handler.

If you do the “don’ts” listed above, you could create a social MONSTER who, when he sees another human or dog, simply cannot be contained. This dog has zero impulse control, and has been raised to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that every human and dog on earth is here especially for him to greet and interact with. “Oh, he’s just so friendly!” Yes… he is. But he’s also entitled and completely unable to focus, which makes bringing this dog into public very unfun. Additionally, his “friendliness” could start a dog fight quite easily. As this dog rushes in to greet another dog during his walk, his past experiences have led him to believe that all these dogs are perfectly happy to have him bowl into them like a little ball of enthusiasm, with no restraint. The thing is… he isn’t little anymore. And his enthusiasm is generally quite disrespectful of the other dog’s signals. This dog is so consumed by what he wants and expects to receive, that he’s not concerned at all about how the other dog is feeling.
Dogs will put up with a lot from a young puppy that they absolutely will not stand for from an adolescent or adult dog. 


Socialization vs. Flooding

Flooding is a term that describes changing a dog’s behavior toward a certain stimulous by totally inundating him with that stimulous. It has many applications, but here are a couple examples (don’t try any of these on your own! please consult a trainer):

Ex. 1: Resource Guarding
This golden retriever is the sweetest, best dog his owners have ever had, but for one thing. He will attack any dog that comes near his tennis ball. Otherwise, he’s great with other dogs!
A trainer might alter this dog’s perceptions by placing that dog in a yard with other dogs in a yard, and then dumping 200 tennis balls in. The golden retriever is swamped with so many balls, and he can’t even begin to try to guard them all from the other dogs. The tennis balls lose the “trigger” effect when the dog gets enough experience with this.

Ex. 2: Fright Response
This dog is terrified of the vacuum. Even if it’s not turned on, he loses his mind simply seeing it.
A trainer might advise an owner to leave the vacuum out in the middle of a main room, and go about their usual routine with their dog, pretending they don’t see the vacuum, and ignoring the dog’s response. The dog is flooded with encounters with the vacuum, but the inescapable presence of it means that eventually the dog becomes accustomed. What was once a trigger, becomes like any other piece of furniture—totally neutral to the dog.

Ex. 3 Dog on Dog Interactions
Dog owners do this a LOT without realizing it!
Without having properly socialized their dog beforehand, they take their dog to a dog park and throw him in with a bunch of new dogs. No criteria, control, or gradual introduction. This is flooding! And sometimes it works out fine, other times it doesn’t. Trainers do this as well in their play groups, but have means of control and criteria. Large dog groups can be a great way for a dog with dog-on-dog behavioral issues to learn proper socializing techniques, but this isn’t appropriate for puppies. In fact, I recommend staying away from the typical dog park altogether. There are better options!

So How is Puppy Socialization Different?

Puppy socialization is about introducing your young dog to new things in a gradual and neutral way, and ensuring that the experience ends very positively. These experiences are intended to build your puppy’s confidence in himself and you, and to make him believe that pretty much anything new will end up working out great for him (this won’t always be true in life, but instilling that belief in your dog will make him very resilient in the future when/if something doesn’t go so well).
Rule of Sevens
Something that can help you ensure that your puppy has a well-rounded socialization experience is the Rule of Sevens. The Rule of Sevens is a guideline only, and basically states, “let your puppy experience at least seven types of things in each of these categories”:

1. Surfaces and Textures, Heights

Stainless steel, plastic, sandpaper, gravel, mesh (like a crate door), water, lanoleum flooring, etc.

2. Foods and Food Containers

puzzle bowls, slow feeders, steel bowls, ceramic bowls, clear plastic containers, carrots, apples, cucumber, blueberries, sardines, etc.

3. Toys/Puzzles

I LOVE puzzle toys for dogs. Go to Amazon and go nuts. I recommend letting your puppy conquer one puzzle toy at a time. Once he’s really good at it, put it away and rotate in a new puzzle toy. By the time you get to the end of your collection, you can start over and add some difficulty to it: if the toy is adjustable, make it more challenging.. if not, place the toy on or in or under something (like a cardboard box, or on a wobble board). 

4. Smells
clove, anis, cayenne, bay… I like to use essential oils but be careful! Oils like teatree can kill your dog. Do your research.
Often the “smells” section will be taken care of while tackling the “places” section.


5. People
One or two new people at a time. People you trust and can direct. People who will stay neutral if you tell them to. People who love and respect dogs enough to NOT pet the puppy if that’s what is appropriate.


6. Dogs
Complete with extreme care! Ask if you need help.
While your puppy was with me, he met several dogs, all under supervision. He only met dogs I know well, and can control. I not only hold my dogs accountable for how they interact with a puppy, but I hold the puppy accountable as well! If he is rude (jumping onto, or chewing on) the other dog, I will correct him or allow my dog to correct him, and reset the scenario. THIS IS IMPORTANT to prevent creating a disrespectful and overly rambunctious dog!


7. Places
Safe, neutral places where dogs are welcome. Novel places, such as a pond/lake, or a playground at a park (at a time when it’s empty, preferably). I like going to Lowe’s/Home Depot. At such a visit, I can introduce a puppy to a rolling surface (the big metal carts, or a shopping cart), some heights, mulch bag obstacle courses, etc. It’s awesome! But BE PREPARED during those visits to say “no, you may not pet the puppy” or “please leave my puppy alone, thank you” far more often than you allow any interaction. Learn to advocate for your dog. If you can handle telling someone they can pet an adorable little puppy, you will be well-prepared for advocating for your adult dog.


8. Challenges
Set up fairly simple to gradually more challenging obstacles and exercises for your puppy. Use your imagination! The sky’s the limit here. You can accomplish MUCH with items in your home and garage. Just be sure to watch and guage your puppy’s feelings about things. Some frustration or uncertainty is fine! But too much means you should lower the criteria.


Example Sessions to Get You Started:

Exercise 1: New Surface
Set the new surface (like a wobble board, a crate door, a slick metal or plastic sheet) on the floor. Lure the puppy toward it, let him eat off of it, explore it. Lure him across it. Let him stand on it while you feed continuously. Praise sparingly. Let him fully experience the new surface in a very positive way, but also give him space to think and make up his own mind. Constant praise and verbal encouragement can stunt a puppy’s ability to face challenges independently.
Repeat this experience several times over the course of the next few months.
*Note: an unstable surface like a wobble board should be stabilized somewhat (you can use your feet) at first. Then gradually, slowly, let it rock a little more.

Exercise 2: New People
a) People You Know:
      i. Ask your friend to sit on the ground, relaxed, but stay fairly neutral (no calling to the puppy or kissy noises). Give them food to hold. Allow your puppy to approach them at their own pace. If the puppy is reticent, ask your friend to toss some food toward the puppy a few times, gradually shortening the distance until the puppy can eat from their hand. If the puppy crawls onto their lap, they may pet and chat with him. To end the encounter, click your clicker and reward your puppy. Place him in a crate to decompress.
      ii. Ask your friend to stand or sit neutrally. Allow puppy to greet. Correct puppy for jumping OR click and reward puppy for sitting politely! In this iteration, the puppy does not interact with the new person. Sometimes, we have houseguests who don’t much like dogs. Your puppy must learn to accept neutrality or rejection from people sometimes. But YOU reward him for polite behavior.

b) People You Don’t Know:
In general, people I don’t know don’t get to pet my puppy. Kids especially whose parents I don’t know, I will not allow to interact with my puppy. Some people will even become annoyed or indignant that you did not let them touch your dog. That’s ok! These people who want to pet your dog are not interested in your dog’s training. They want what they want for themselves. That’s a reflection of how we view pets in our culture. The healthy, balanced truth is this: your dog is yours, not theirs. They don’t have a right to him at all. You are responsible for your dog’s education and experiences, and you will be doing him a HUGE favor when you learn to advocate strongly for him. They have no relationship with you, and are not invested in you or your dog. This means if they interact with your dog, you will have a very difficult time controlling that interaction. So prevent it altogether. Not only will you protect your puppy and empower yourself as a dog owner, but you will also teach your puppy that most of the time, humans in the world are not there for him and that YOU are the most interesting and important human in the world. And I honestly don’t know which is more valuable.
Exercise 3: New Place
In a new place, go slowly. Stay calm and neutral, and praise sparingly. Allow your puppy to absorb the new information around him. Allow him to sniff aroud, look, etc. Ensure other people also allow him to do this by telling them to leave him alone.
If he is unsure or frightened of something, pause and let him look and think. (Sliding doors like at a hardware store is often one of those things.) Stand near the object, but far enough away that your puppy isn’t freaking out. Let him absorb. As soon as you see a change from uncertainty to curiosity, click the clicker and feed him. If he moves toward the scary thing, click and feed. Curiosity is the opposite of fear! Reward curiosity.

Exercise 4: Challenge
Place a bunch of empty plastic water bottles in a kiddie pool or large cardboard box. Throw his breakfast in there. Let him figure it out.

** Note: If you set up a challenge, and your puppy doesn’t make progress within 10 minutes, it was too hard. Simplify the challenge (e.g. remove the empty bottles from the pool) and try again.

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