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The basic idea of dog training isn't to teach your dog anything new, but to teach your dog the human words for the activities that he or she already knows. The average age to begin BASIC obedience training is usually around six months, but you can start training your dog any time after three months (It is advised, though, not to begin SERIOUS dog training before eight months, unless your puppy seems to be uncontrollably rambunctious). And yes, you can also "teach an old dog new tricks."

An important tip for training is to use as few words as possible. Stick with one-word commands, the dog's name, and a stern, "No" to show disapproval.

"Sit"
To teach your dog to sit, hold a treat in your hand and have your dog standing near you. Hold the treat above the dog's head and say his name, followed by the command, "sit." If your dog continues to look at you unknowingly, repeat the procedure but gently push down on his rear (just before where the tail begins) until he's sitting. Once he sits on your command, reward him with the treat and the praise "Good boy/girl." After repeating this two or three times, your dog should be ready for some serious sitting.

"Down"
To teach your dog to lie down, first have him sit. Once he's sitting, lower a treat to the ground, just a few inches from his front paws. Say his name followed by the command, "down." If you get no response, tap the treat on the ground in front of him and repeatedly tell him to "down." If this still doesn't work, gently pull his arms forward while repeating the command, and reward him with the treat as he lies down.

"Stay" and "Come"
Teaching your dog to stay is easier if he's learned to "sit." Have your dog sit, and then hold out your hand and say his name followed by the command, "stay." Slowly take a few steps back and silently wait for a moment. Wave your arms and tell him to "come." When he does, reward him with the treat. If your dog refuses to stay still as you back away, sternly use the term "no," and start over from "sit." You can continue to teach your dog to stay and come from varying distances and after varying lengths of waiting.

"Heel"
To teach your dog to "heel," means for him to track along your left side as the two of you walk. To teach him to heel, you'll need a bit of patience and a leash. Put the leash on your dog, but before you move, say his name followed by the command, "heel." As you walk, you'll need to keep him directly to your left and following at your pace. If he begins to pull ahead or away from you, gently pull on the leash to bring him back into position. Remember to say his name and "heel" each time you do this. If he tends to drag behind as you walk, you may be walking too fast. Keep in mind that teaching a dog to properly heel usually takes more than just one or two lessons. With a little patience and time, your dog will eventually learn to heel alongside you, even without a leash.

"Drive"
Do not ever attempt to teach your dog to drive.

Remember never to hit your dog, and to use as few words as possible when training. Once your dog has learned these human words for his actions, you'll feel a closer kinship with him than you ever had before.