The dog at home

Whether it is an adult dog or a puppy just separated from its mother, it is important to follow certain rules from the outset. Dogs clearly add value to our day-to-day lives, but they can also be a real source of problems, which is why adopting a dog is not to be taken lightly. Fortunately, with good training most problems can be avoided.

  • Print
  • Increase text size Diminish text size

The basics

© Diffomedia/Royal Canin

First of all, the dog needs time to get used to its new home. It will meet the family members and explore its new home. It generally needs a couple of days for this. It will soon choose the places it feels most comfortable in, although it should not be allowed to do whatever it pleases just because it is young or, if it is older, because it needs to settle. Dogs quickly learn what they can and cannot do. If a puppy is allowed to lie on the sofa or bed when it first arrives, it will be virtually impossible to change its behaviour when it grows to full size. This concern applies not only to large dogs: despite their size Yorkshire Terriers and Dachshunds can cause considerable damage in a very short space of time.

As a consequence, it is vital to let the dog know who is master from the outset by not allowing it to jump on the bed and assigning it its own toys. A place will need to be designated where the dog will eat and it will have to be taught – by ignoring the behaviour - that begging for food is not tolerated. The dog should always eat last. In the pack, the dominant animal eats first and this behaviour has to be reproduced in your proxy pack. The dog also has to have its own place to sleep – a rug, basket or box – well away from doors and windows, so the dog does not feel it has been given the authority to monitor the comings and goings in the home.

Barbara Helgason_Fotolia

These few simple rules will help orientate the dog to life in a pack, which is its natural environment. It must understand that it is subordinate and the owner is dominant. This stable pack hierarchy is where the dog finds its balance.

This holds true for all dogs, regardless of size. It will help ensure that a Dachshund, for example, does not become a tyrant that shows its teeth whenever anyone approaches its sofa and snaps at the calves of passers-by. The important thing is to be consistent. Do not allow the dog to do something one day if it is not normally allowed to do so. You must be firm, although not excessively so. This is how trust can be established between dog and owner over time.

To establish authority, the owner should start training the puppy before it reaches three months of age, starting with simple commands using simple words.

Teaching the puppy some simple commands

Two methods are generally recommended:

- The owner leaves the initiative to the puppy. So, when it sits, the owner says “sit” and praises it. The same pattern is followed for “down” or “stand”. The dog will gradually associate the command with the action and its owner’s satisfaction.

- The owner takes the initiative by placing the dog into the given position while giving the command. For “sit”, the owner simply places one hand on the puppy’s head, pushing its bottom or its hocks to the ground with the other. This will ensure the dog sits. For “down”, the owner then gently pulls the dog’s front limbs forward. Repeating the session for several minutes each day will generally produce good results. The dog should be praised when it does what is expected of it.


It is more difficult to teach the dog to stay, because this command takes time to learn, so it’s advisable to wait until the puppy is older before attempting it. Start by telling the puppy to sit, then place an object (such as its collar) on its head or nose. Tell it to stay and show displeasure if it lowers its head and the object falls to the ground. If it keeps its head still for a few seconds you should praise it. From here, you can gradually require the dog to stay still for longer and longer. The last step is commanding the dog to stay while you walk away, then getting it to come on command.

As soon at it arrives at its new home, the puppy has to be taught not to bite hands or ankles. A puppy can quickly turn a seemingly playful game into a test of which animal is the dominant one in the family. If not stopped, this can be the source of huge problems when the dog grows into an adult.

© Diffomedia/Royal Canin
Learn more

How to house train a puppy?

The only way to housetrain a dog is to reward when he runs to the right place, but never punish when he is wrong.

To promote quick learning it is in the owner's interest to walk his dog regularly and often.

The reward should be given exactly when the puppy turns to sniff its droppings or urine. The reward must be motivating.

Continence increases with age. A normal puppy, educated in this way can be completely housetrained even during the night (for 7 hours) from the age of four months.


Gérard Muller, DVM
Dog behavioural specialist, (France)

  • Print
  • Back to top
Attribute Type Value
The dog at home
    The dog at home

    Related medias

    Related articles