Naming Good Behaviors is the First Step to Puppy TrainingDogs aren't born knowing how to "Sit," Come," "Lie Down," or "Be Quiet"; we have to teach them what each of those commands means and how to comply with them.

Helping your puppy learn the commands you will eventually expect him to respond to is something that can start on the day he comes home. Here's how to begin:

Start by naming those behaviors as they occur naturally, allowing your puppy to feel what each word means as the action is being taken. For example, say "Sit" when your puppy is IN a sitting position as opposed to telling her to "Sit" (and repeating the word multiple times with little or no result). Since your puppy is in a period of intense exploration and learning, naming behaviors consistently will expand your puppy's vocabulary quickly.

And, since dogs do what works to get attention, be sure to reward your puppy for desired behaviors with praise, play or a treat. This reinforces the behavior and increases the likelihood it will occur more frequently in the future.

The converse of this is also true. If you want to get rid of an unwanted behavior -- like jumping, nipping or whining -- you should ignore that behavior to reduce its future occurrence. For example, your dog will quickly learn that whining doesn't result in eye contact, being spoken to, or being picked up, and the whining will go away on its own.

That is, it will go away if you haven't already reinforced whining by doing any or all of the above. Correcting a bad behavior that has become a bad habit is a longer and more difficult process than not preventing that behavior in the first place. So do yourself and your puppy a favor by teaching right from wrong from Day 1.

As your puppy matures mentally and physically his training regimen will progress accordingly, becoming more structured and focused. In future posts, we'll discuss other strategies to promote good behaviors. In the meantime, if you need more guidance, you can learn about our Manners dog obedience training here).