Have a new furry friend and wondering how to train them? Professional dog training can be costly, so we’ve created a guide to training your pup at home, DIY style. From basic commands like “sit” and “stay” to leash training your pooch, these tips will help you save money while spending quality time with your new pal. 

Use the links below to jump to a specific section in the guide, or jump to the infographic below for a condensed version.

Table of Contents: 

The Cost of Professional Dog Training 

While it’s important for your dog to be trained properly, professional dog training classes can get expensive quickly. Here are a few price breakdowns according to HomeGuide

  • Pre-class evaluations: $25–$75 
  • Group dog training: $30–$50 per class 
  • Private dog training: $45–$120 per hour-long session 
  • 6-class training package: $200–$600
  • Obedience school: $500–$1,250 per week 

Instead of covering these expenses for a professional dog trainer, consider training your dog at home. You’ll save significant money, avoid the liabilities and hurdles associated with being in group settings, and get to spend quality time strengthening the bond with your pup. 

5 Basic Obedience Commands to Teach Your Dog 

Teaching your dog tricks isn’t just about showing off to your friends – it’s also about keeping your dog safe from dangerous objects, in social situations and in emergencies. For example, the “leave it” command can be used if a dog comes in contact with a toxic food they shouldn’t have.

Dogs can begin at-home obedience training as early as puppyhood, as puppies are fast learners and love to please. Because puppies are naturally curious and excited, it’s important to be patient and gentle when training your new pup at home. 

Use the steps below to teach your dog five of the most basic and important obedience commands at home. 

1. Sit 

“Sit” is one of the most basic commands your dog can learn, but it’s also the foundation for most other obedience commands and tricks. Here’s how to teach it to your pooch:

  1. Stand in front of your dog with a treat in your hand. 
  2. Show your dog the treat by holding it near their nose.
  3. Raise the treat up slightly and say, “sit.” 
  4. As your dog follows the treat with their eyes, use your other hand to gently guide their backside down into a sitting position. 
  5. Once your dog is sitting, reward them with the treat and verbal praise. 
  6. Repeat this command several times until your dog sits without needing physical guidance.

Pup Tip: Our favorite low-cost, healthy treats perfect for training are Hill’s Natural Jerky Strips. You can get them from Petco for less than $5 per bag! 

2. Stay

Teaching your dog “stay” encourages your pup to stay put, even if you walk away. Use these steps to teach your dog to stay: 

  1. Tell your dog to sit. 
  2. Hold your hand in front of you, palm facing your dog, and say “stay.” 
  3. Take a step backward. 
  4. If your dog follows you, have them return to a sitting position and repeat. 
  5. If your dog stays still, reward them with a treat and verbal praise. 
  6. As your dog begins to understand the command, increase the number of steps you take away from them. 
  7. Always reward your pup for following the command, even if only for a short time. 

Pup Tip: Reward your pup with new toys to play with. BarkBox delivers new toys and treats to your door for just $22 per month! 

3. Lie Down

This command is especially helpful for your dog to know when guests are visiting, when you and your dog are in public, or if your dog is anxious or excited. 

  1. Hold a treat in one hand, fist closed. 
  2. Tell your dog to sit. 
  3. Show your dog your closed fist and allow them to smell the treat. 
  4. As they smell the treat, move your closed fist to the floor. 
  5. Say “lie down” or “down.” 
  6. Your dog should follow your hand until they are laying down. 
  7. Once they are laying down, give them the treat and praise them. 
  8. Repeat until your dog can perform the command without a treat. 

Pup Tip: Running out of treats? Chewy delivers all your favorite pet supplies to your door at great prices. 

While gentle guidance can be helpful, it’s important to never physically force your dog into a position. If your dog tries to get up or won’t lie down, say “no” and remove the treat. Repeat the above steps until they understand the command. 

4. Come 

“Come” is a crucial command for all dogs to know, as it can keep them safe if they are off-leash or get out of the yard accidentally. It’s best to begin training for this command in a quiet environment like your home or backyard to reduce distractions. 

  1. Tell your dog to sit and stay. 
  2. Walk a short distance away. 
  3. Say “come” and hold out a treat. 
  4. Reward your dog when they’ve come to you. 
  5. Repeat until your dog can perform the command without a treat. 

Pup Tip: Looking for an eco-friendly treat option? Check out the Shameless Pets brand at PupJoy

5. Leave It 

Though this command involves more patience and commitment, it’s an important one for your dog to know. It can help them stay safe if they get curious about something they shouldn’t have, like toxic foods, sharp objects, or other dangerous things. 

Phase 1: Beginner 

  1. Hold a treat in one hand, fist closed. 
  2. Show your dog your closed fist and allow them to smell the treat. 
  3. Your dog may get excited and try to get the treat out of your hand. 
  4. Say “leave it” firmly. 
  5. Once your dog is calm, give them the treat. 
  6. Repeat steps 1–4, but wait for your dog to move away from the treat. 
  7. Give your dog the treat only when they’ve moved away from your fist. 

Phase 2: Intermediate

  1. Place a treat on the floor and cover it with one hand. 
  2. Say “leave it.” 
  3. Once your dog ignores the treat and looks at you, let them have the treat. 
  4. Repeat steps 1–3 until your dog ignores the treat every time. 
  5. Once your dog has mastered steps 1–4, command them to “sit.” 
  6. Place a treat on the floor, but leave it uncovered. 
  7. Say “leave it.” 
  8. If your dog tries to get the treat, have them return to “sit.” 
  9. Reward them for successfully completing the command. 
  10. Repeat steps 5–9 until your dog ignores the treat every time. 

Pup Tip: Have a Furbo dog camera laying around? Have the machine dispense a treat when you aren’t in the room, give the “leave it” command in the microphone, then see what your dog does! 

How to Crate Train Your Dog 

According to the Humane Society, crate training “takes advantage of your dog’s natural instincts as a den animal” and is an important part of household life for a dog. When done correctly, your dog will think of their crate as a comforting, safe place to rest. Additionally, crate training your pup will give you the peace of mind that your dog is safe and secure (and not tearing up your house) while you’re out. 

There are several types of crates available at different price points. It’s important to choose a crate that will give your dog enough room to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. If choosing a crate for a growing puppy, pick one that will accommodate their adult size and block off extra space until they have grown. 

Simple Ways to Save on Crate Training

Hoping to save some money on crate training? Local animal shelters often rent out crates, which can be helpful for puppy owners. Renting a crate allows you to trade in the crate as your puppy grows and may be more cost-effective than investing in an expensive crate your pup will only grow out of as they age. 

Feeling crafty? Try a DIY project to turn a less-than-attractive dog crate into a gorgeous piece of furniture! There are plenty of online tutorials to help you transform your dog’s kennel. 

Finally, check sites like eBay for used crates. As puppies grow, it’s time to upgrade crates, so there are always plenty of low-cost, gently used options available. 

Important Rules to Follow When Crate Training 

No one likes to be cooped up in a small space for long. Keep these rules in mind when crate training your dog or puppy. 

  • The crate should never be used as a punishment for your dog. The crate should be associated with safety and comfort, so using it as punishment will deter your dog from feeling comfortable while inside. 
  • Never leave your dog in the crate for more than two to three hours. Dogs need exercise, social interaction, and time outside to relieve themselves. If you need to leave your dog for long periods of time, hire a pet sitter, have a family member come over, or take your pup to a doggy daycare. 
  • Don’t leave young puppies in the crate for more than an hour, as they have a harder time controlling their bladders and bowels.  
  • Never punish your dog for soiling their crate. If they have an accident while in their crate, you may have left them inside too long. 
  • Crate your dog only until you can trust them to be on their best behavior when they’re alone in the house. Once you know your pup won’t destroy the house, the crate should be a place they go voluntarily to rest. 

For more advice on successfully crate training your dog, visit the Humane Society’s website or consult a licensed veterinarian. 

How to House Train Your Dog 

While crate training is an important part of house training your dog, there are other things you can do to help your pup get used to life inside. The key to house training your pup, especially a young puppy, is patience and understanding – it may take up to a year for your dog to be fully potty trained.

Here are a few tips to follow when house training your dog or puppy: 

  • Stick to a regular feeding schedule. Take away your pup’s food between meals to help them regulate their needs. 
  • Take them outside every 30 minutes to one hour. You should also take your dog or puppy outside as soon as you wake up in the morning (you may need to set an alarm if you tend to sleep in), just before bed every night, before you plan to leave the house, or after your pup wakes up from a nap. 
  • Take them to the same place outside. The scent will prompt your dog to continue using that location outside to do their business. 
  • Stay with your puppy when they’re outside. As they begin to master house training skills, it’s okay to leave them outside unattended for brief periods. 
  • Praise your puppy for going outside. Your dog will associate the praise with the action, so be ready to give them a good ear scratching when they’re done! 
  • Never rub your puppy’s face in the soil if they have an accident inside, especially if you came across the evidence but didn’t see the act. If you catch them in the act, give them a stern “no” and immediately take them outside. Punishing your pup for an accident will only teach them to fear you. 
  • Clean accidents with an enzymatic spray, as these cleaners break down oders more effectively and will prevent your pup from returning to the same place.

How to Save on House Training

To cut down on costs, try skipping the pricey puppy training pads. While they are helpful for teaching your dog to relieve themselves in an approved place, they can be detrimental to the ultimate goal of getting your dog to relieve themselves outside only. 

Unfortunately, accidents happen – potty training any baby isn’t fail-proof! When they do, don’t pay an arm and a leg for costly sprays and cleaners when you can make your own at home. 

Here’s a quick recipe for a stain and odor remover: 

  • 2 cups of vinegar 
  • 2 cups of warm water 
  • 4 tablespoons of baking soda

How to Leash Train Your Dog 

There are big differences in teaching a puppy to walk on a leash versus teaching an adult dog to walk on a leash, but there are a few things to keep in mind regardless of your dog’s age. 

  • Let your dog get used to the collar or harness before going outside. It may take them a while to adjust to the feeling, so reinforce this time with play and treats! 
  • Practice walking on a leash inside first to minimize distractions. Walk through your house with your pup, praising them for good behavior. 
  • Practice walking in your backyard. The sights, smells, and noises of the outdoors are enough to overwhelm any dog, so take them somewhere they’re familiar with first. 

Your dog or puppy will probably want to cover ground fast when exploring outside, so they may pull or tug on their leash. Instead of yanking on the leash or yelling at them, use these tricks: 

  • Try the “tree” trick – If your dog is pulling on the leash and won’t walk beside you, turn yourself into a “tree” by standing still and refusing to move. Wait until your dog returns to your side before continuing the walk. This tactic can also help you avoid spending money on expensive harnesses or leads designed for dogs that pull.
  • Be proactive – If you see another person or animal coming towards you while walking, be proactive by crossing the street or creating distance. Once you’re at a safe distance, reward them with a treat or affection. This will redirect your pup’s attention and prevent them from lunging.
  • Have them sit – Periodically asking your dog to sit during a walk is a good way to break their focus and bring their attention back to you. If your dog starts to get too excited or anxious during a walk, ask them to sit for a few minutes to calm down.

There are many resources to help you and your dog learn these basic training skills together. AKC provides free videos on many topics, including leash training, house-training, and more.

Whether you’ve just adopted an older shelter dog or have a brand new puppy, it’s important to help your pup adjust to life with you by training them correctly. Because professional training can be expensive, always look for discounts and don’t be afraid to ask your local animal shelter or veterinarian for advice. 

Sources 

South Boston Animal Hospital | Fetch by WebMD | AKC | Dog Tipper | Labrador Training HQ| Petsmart | Petco 

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