When beginning training, it's a good idea to sit down and write out a plan. Tracking daily interactions with your dog can help you to see how youare progressing with basic manners. If you live in a multiperson household, it can assist with one of the key issues to watch out for in training-consistency! Take your written plan and post it in a common area of your household where everyone can see it-on your refrigerator, on the family computer, or even above your dog's bed or crate. Make sure all family members enter their data in the chart. It's also important to take the time each day to discuss progress, such as at the dinner table, or while you walk the dog together as a family at night. Invest in a good set of baby gates and use them to keep your puppy from getting into trouble in your house. Get a variety of toys for your puppy, but only leave four to five down at any time. Rotate them regularly so your puppy doesn't get bored and try to play with inappropriate objects-like your shoes! Begin crate training. Aside from helping with house training, having a dog who is comfortable in a crate can be a real asset. Crate-trained dogs are less stressed when they need to be confined due to an illness or during transport. Start looking for training classes now, especially those leading to the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy® or AKC's Canine Good Citizen® program awards. You may find a listing of CGC evaluators and S.T.A.R. Puppy trainers at www.akc.org. Also, check the APDT website's trainer-search feature at apdt.com. For multiperson households, create a "cue chart," listing all of the behaviors you are trying to teach and the corresponding cue words. That way everyone stays on the same page and your puppy will learn faster! Use your dog's bed or crate as part of his training regimen-you can train him to do a "go to bed" or "crate" cue by bringing him to his bed or crate and rewarding him for staying. This is a useful behavior to have when visitors come over, or when you want to eat a meal at the dinner table without your puppy underfoot. Have you "puppy proofed" your home? If you have, it's time for a recheck! Review your puppy's access to your household furniture and goods often, as things may change when the puppy gets bigger and more active. Socialization Tip: Visit your veterinary clinic often with your puppy to help him learn that it's a great place to be. Bring a handful of treats or a favorite toy with you, and have the puppy meet the staff. Food-stuffed toys are a great way to keep your puppy occupied while you are busy. Fill the toys with kibble and other treats, or even regularly feed him his breakfast and dinner through these toys. Reinforce the four-on-the-floor rule! While it's cute now for a little puppy to jump up on people, this will quickly get annoying as he gets bigger, especially with medium and large breeds. Get your puppy used to being handled right away! Gently play with his paws, ears, tail, head, and body while rewarding him with treats or getting to play with a favorite toy. A dog who is comfortable being handled will find veterinary and grooming visits much less stressful. If you have children in the house, make sure they understand how to play properly with the puppy; don't allow any "roughhousing," which can increase mouthy and nippy behavior. Socialization Tip: Visit dog-friendly stores with your puppy. Some businesses that typically allow dogs include home improvement stores, garden nurseries, and of course, pet-supply stores. Teach your dog the "name game"-call your dog's name in a happy, excited tone of voice and reward him when he looks at you. Wait until he is no longer paying attention, and repeat. This game teaches your dog to pay attention to his name. Vary the rewards. Every dog is different, so have the family make a list of what your dog enjoys-try to use a mix of food and non-food rewards, such as toys, praise, brushing, or getting to go outside. Every dog's list of "favorites" will be unique. Socialization Tip: Many coffee shops and restaurants with outdoor areas allow you to sit out with your dog. So enjoy an outing and latte with your pup. Use feeding times to train the sit and wait commands. Ask your puppy to sit before you place his food bowl down, and ask him to wait before you allow him to walk over to the bowl to begin eating. Choose a marker signal. A marker can be a sound, like the one a clicker makes, or a word such as Yes! Pair this signal with a treat, toy, or other reward. Eventually when you phase out the reward item, the dog will understand that the marker signal means he did something right. Start teaching your puppy to walk on leash right away-without the leash! Practice in your backyard off-leash by keeping some treats in your hand by your leg, and rewarding your puppy for walking close to you. Gradually work up to hiding the treats and rewarding your puppy for voluntarily following you closely. Get your children involved with tricks training. Tricks are fun and low stress since they are not among the critical skills a dog needs to know. Socialization Tip: Visit local parks where you know children will be. Even if you have children, the more children your puppy is exposed to, the better. Find parks with a variety of people, sights, and sounds for your puppy to get used to. Make sure everyone is aware of attention-seeking behaviors, such as whining, jumping up, barking, pawing, licking, nudging, pushing, and even stealing. Your whole family, particularly children, should be aware of these behaviors and know to ignore them. Are there toddlers in the home? Teach your puppy to do a down-stay whenever your toddler is in a high chair. You can even teach your toddler to give the hand signal for down or sit and toss the puppy a treat. Teach your puppy to target your hand and teach this to your children as well-this way the dog learns that when he greets people, he is positioning his head by their hands, rather than by their heads. Socialization Tip: Choose puppy classes over dog parks. You don't have control over the kinds of dogs at a dog park, and young puppies might find the activity overwhelming. Another alternative is to find friends who have dogs with good temperaments and arrange play dates. Encourage your puppy to learn to settle. If there is nap time in your household for the children, it should be nap time for the dog as well. Offer the puppy a food-stuffed toy or a chew in the crate or on a dog bed. This reinforces calm, quiet behavior. Housetraining troubles? Make sure you are monitoring your puppy's intake of food and water, and exercise schedule. Most puppies eliminate right after they eat, play, and wake up. Is your puppy getting enough exercise? Every puppy has different needs so research the energy levels of your dog's breed or breed mix. In addition to walking, exercise may include throwing a toy in the backyard and teaching fetch. Cement the "recall" or come command through games. Play "round-robin recalls" by having different members of the family call your puppy and as the puppy comes to them and is rewarded, have the next person call, and so on. You can also play "hide and seek" in your house or yard and reward your dog for finding you. Once your dog is doing well with practicing behaviors like sit, stay, and down, take him outside in areas with more distractions to practice these skills. This will help to "proof" these behaviors. Good job! Treat yourself and your puppy by having fun time to build your relationship-go on a hike, play fetch in a park, or visit the pet store to get a new toy and a social visit. For more training tips,check out the public education section of the AKC websitewww.akc.org/public_education/ and the AKC's Canine Good Citizen® program website, akc.org/events/cgc.