Dog Training Checklist: From Puppyhood To Well-Mannered Pet

Training is one aspect of pet parenting that we want to get right, and to do that, we need every essential tool we can get.

One such tool is a dog training checklist, which would help keep you on track as you take your dog from where it is to where it ought to be. 

A dog training checklist is a compilation of all that is necessary to successfully train your dog. It also covers different forms of training and when to give them. As with any other endeavor in life, you should start early to achieve better results. 

With a dog training plan, training becomes easier, and you can get to your goal of a well-trained dog faster than you envisioned. 

Dog Training Checklist – Must-Have Essential Items

The first place to begin is the important items you need during the training (and other aspects of dog care).

Some of them are:

  • Dog treats
  • Dog crate
  • Brush 
  • Shampoo and conditioner 
  • Leash, collar, harness
  • Dog toys 
  • Dog car seat
  • Dog food
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste 
  • Nail clippers 
  • Dog training book or resources

Forms of Dog Training 

Obedience training

Woman Teaching Her Black Dog Obedience

This is usually the first form of training pet parents begin with.

It first involves teaching your dog some basic commands which set the foundation for other forms of training.

Over time you could move to more advanced commands.

The basic commands include Come, Sit, Leave It, Stop, and Lay Down. Basic commands should start early, sometimes as soon as the puppy comes home.

The ideal time is 7 to 8 weeks. Training sessions should be short because puppies find it hard to concentrate. It should also be fun for almost the same reason.

Obedience training helps to avoid temperament and behavioral problems. It also helps to keep your dog from being distracted.

Potty Training

Potty Training a Puppy on Absorbent Pad at Home

Potty training should also begin early, from the puppy stage.

You’ll need to be both patient and consistent to succeed with potty training as it might be complex for some puppies at the start. Your dedication matters as well.

Start by creating a schedule for potty breaks. This schedule will help you monitor your dog’s progress.

You can start by taking the puppy out every two hours, then increase the time as the puppy grows older.

Puppies have a small bladder, so they need to relieve themselves more than an adult. You’ll also need absorbent puppy training pads. 

Crate Training

Close Up Puppy in a Crate

Crates serve as protection for your puppy when you’re not around, and so crate training is tied to your dog’s safety.

Crate training also helps preserve your household valuables from the bite of an overenthusiastic puppy. These include carpets, sofas, cables, and furniture. 

Crate training involves making your dog feel comfortable inside its crate.

When you’ve succeeded in it, your dog will find a haven in its crate and will head there when it needs to rest without any convincing from you. 

The best way to get your dog comfortable with the crate is to associate it with good feelings.

Use treats to train your dog to get into the crate, and feed them with enough treats when it is in the crate. 

Leash Training

This is usually complicated the first few times as puppies aren’t used to walking on a leash.

Don’t be surprised when your puppy moves around haphazardly the first time you try putting it on a leash. This is why your dog needs leash training. 

The first step is the most obvious: put the leash on your puppy. You can’t train your pup to walk on a leash if you haven’t put it on.

After doing that, let the puppy drag on the leash until it becomes comfortable. At that point, you can then take it on a short walk around the neighborhood.

Use simple commands and/or a simple tug on the leash if the puppy seems reluctant to move.

Do not leave your puppy on the leash when you’re not there. 


Socialization involves getting your dog to mix with other people, dogs, and pets. This should start when the puppy matures to an extent.

Take them outdoors to get used to new sights, and to interact with new people. This is especially important if you own a breed that’s wary of strangers.

Without socialization, such a dog can grow to become timid and even aggressive.

Even friendly dogs need to be socialized too.

Timidity can develop in Golden Retrievers as much as in Chihuahuas, and though the latter may seem more inclined to wariness, every dog should be socialized. 

Vet appointment training

Veterinarian Examining a Dog

Similar to kids, puppies don’t always enjoy visiting the veterinarian. The behavior ranges from mild anxiety to outright rebellion.

At that age, many aren’t used to being touched and prodded the way a veterinarian has to do.

Thus, you should teach the dog how to handle a veterinarian appointment.

While they are puppies, start handling the ears, teeth, and even paws. This would also help in grooming (which we’ll look into soon).

You can also train it to take pills using small treats as practice. This would make things easier for you, your dog, and the veterinarian. 

Hygiene training

Owner Brushing Dog's Teeth at Home

Training a dog to get comfortable with a human touch isn’t only for the veterinarian. It will also ease grooming sessions for you.

The best way to do this is to start early, as it would be harder to teach an adult dog how to be comfortable with being handled. 

You can start with the teeth, a sensitive area for dogs.

The principle we mentioned in the preceding sections applies here too: Associate teeth brushing with good feelings.

You could start after it has played with a toy or some other joyful experience. Be sure to use a lot of positive reinforcements like praises to keep it happy. 

Two other sensitive areas for dogs are nail clipping and ear cleaning.

Calm pooches have been known to react aggressively when nail clipping and ear cleaning are both involved.

Thus, you should take time and be cautious while clipping your puppy’s nails and cleaning the ears. 

Car rides training 

Some dogs have no problems with car rides, but for others, this can be a nightmare.

Motion sickness is common amongst puppies, and it can have both physical and emotional effects like nausea and stress.

You don’t have to wait till you have an actual reason to go on a ride before you check if your puppy is prone to motion sickness. 

Train your puppy for a car ride using the dog car seat listed above. Then, go for some short rides with your puppy to get it accustomed to being in a car.

If the motion sickness is too serious, consult a veterinarian. 

Goals Checklist For Training Dogs

When you start training your puppy, you may want to have a checklist of training goals to achieve before your puppy reach a certain age.

Some people set theirs at 14 or 15 months, but feel free to have your deadline.

Do not feel pressured about checking off all the items on your puppy training checklist. The point is to help you stay on track, not to increase your blood pressure.

Here are some items you can add:

  • Can my dog recognize its name?
  • Can it comport itself during a meal?
  • Can it obey the basic commands of Sit, Stay, Down…?
  • Can my dog obey a recall command?
  • Is my dog comfortable in a crate?
  • Does it suffer from motion sickness?
  • Is it comfortable being touched?
  • Can my dog walk well on a leash?

You can add more to this list. Remember, aim at progress, not perfection.

If you revisit your list in the month set and you realize your pup can do the majority, then celebrate! 

Additional Training Tips For Pet Parents

By now, it might have dawned on you that training a puppy isn’t all too simple. For that, we want to give some additional tips.

This concerns your attitude, training approach, and good ways to get results:

Be patient

Some dogs learn slower than others, and without patience you might get frustrated and snap, which will stress your dog and impede the learning process.

Follow your dog’s pace, and be consistent enough to turn your teaching into a habit for your pooch. 

Keep things interesting

Your puppy might get bored and distracted if the training session isn’t interesting enough.

Ensure that the sessions are challenging and exciting, not the same routine each day. If possible, change the location on each training day.

Positive reinforcement is a strong key

Let the training be reward based. Use a lot of positive reinforcement to motivate your dog, and avoid being harsh even when it doesn’t succeed at a particular task.

A harsh or punitive method can either make your puppy stubborn or it could lead to a loss of trust. 

Keep on practicing

Training doesn’t end when the training session ends. Ensure the dog keeps applying what you’ve taught it in its day-to-day activities.

You can achieve this by making feeding time a mental challenge or saying a command you’ve already taught and seeing if it’ll respond.

Related Questions

What is the first thing I should train my dog to do?

There is no set rule for training, but you can start by teaching your pup its name. Many pet parents usually start with this before moving into other forms of training. Potty training and basic manners are some other good starting points. 

What are the 7 basic dog commands?

Basic commands are the foundations of obedience training, and before you move to more complicated commands, ensure your dog has mastered the basics. The 7 basic dog commands are Sit, Down, Stay, Heel, Come, Off, and No.

What items do I need to train my dog?

There are many items needed to train a dog. The important ones are toys, treats and a treat bag, clickers, short and long leash, collars, and a training book.

Wrap Up: A Well-Mannered Dog is a Happy Dog

Dog training can be challenging, but it can also be fun and rewarding if you are prepared.

Our checklist and tips are geared towards giving you some basic tools to shape your pup into the well-mannered dog everyone would love to have as a friend. 

Get all the necessary items, have a goal and schedule, then go through the different forms of training there are.

You also need to be patient and consistent, while opting for a reward-based system rather than a punitive one.

Authored By

Robert Miller

Robert Miller is a dog behaviorist and professional dog trainer. With more than eight years of hands-on experience in the field, Robert relishes sharing his vast knowledge to help prospective pet parents choose the right dog breeds that suit their lifestyle and provide dog owners with the information they need to ensure they raise a well-behaved canine companion. ...