(DOGS/PET CARE) Our furry pals are an infinite source of joy and love, but no matter how much affection we share with them, it’s critical to implement certain house rules and set behavioral expectations. After all, you want your pooch to be socialized, friendly with people and other animals, and you’ll want to prevent any potential behavioral issues as they grow up.

Of course, it’s best to start training as early as possible and teach them essential commands from early puppyhood, so they can develop a strong bond with you and understand your expectations early on. Take a look at these seven essential commands to teach your beloved pet from day one.

1. ‘Sit’

The very first and perhaps the easiest command to master (even for the youngest of puppies), “sit” is a very useful start that shows pets obedience leads to cuddles, rewards, and praise. Once they understand what this word requires them to do, they’ll be eager to please you every time you’re teaching them something new.

This command is particularly useful for showing dogs when they should calm down and exhibit patience.

2. ‘Come’

Some puppy parents know this particular command can be tricky since curiosity and overwhelming scents can keep your dog occupied even when they truly want to obey. But if you combine treats and familiar sounds such as whistling or a tone from an educator collar (i.e. E-Collar Technologies), you can keep them focused on the command in some of the most distracting environments, and they’ll be ready to listen to you.

They’ll learn to distinguish this particular sound and associate it with your command “come”, so even if your pooch wanders off where they cannot hear your voice, the tone should suffice.

It’s recommended to start practicing the command while your pooch is on-leash, and you can use longer leashes for open spaces until you’re certain they know how to come to you when you call.

3. ‘Heel’

Some dog parents tend to neglect this skill if they have a smaller dog, but the truth is, it’s always wise to teach your dog to walk beside you. This makes it easier to walk your dog in crowded streets and avoid any entanglements with other dog walkers. Larger dog breeds in particular need to master this command as soon as possible, so that you can have full control of them as they grow bigger over time.

Make sure to pack plenty of treats in your pocket on the side where you normally walk your dog. Repeat the command and correct their movement as you go, but also give them a treat every time they find that “sweet spot” next to you. This is an excellent way to prevent leash-pulling.

4. ‘No’ or ‘leave it’

Doggos are curious little beasts, and as such, you’ll always find them sniffing along the street, in the park, in nature when you’re on a trip, and around the house. They’ll find anything and everything fascinating, and sometimes, they’ll even munch on things they’re not supposed to, including but not limited to: dog poo, plants/flowers, branches, pebbles/rocks, scraps of potentially harmful food–you name it!

As soon as you start removing your dog’s leash in the dog park, you need to make sure they’ll respond to your “no” command without hesitation–which is why practicing while on-leash is crucial.

5. Stay

As your beloved pet continues to grow, they will need to learn to establish trust during those moments of separation. For example, if you’re entering a store and need to leave them outside for a few minutes, they need to know you’ll return. This same level of obedience is necessary when you’re hosting guests or doing some other activity that requires your full attention.

Combine “stay” with “sit” and “down,” and they will soon know it’s also a rewarded behavior and they should distinguish among them.

6. ‘Off’

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting an excitable German Shepherd or Collie, for instance, you’re probably well aware that they can often be anxious and jumpy. In addition to jumping on people, you’ll sometimes find them on tabletops, chairs, kitchen counters, and all sorts of high ground. Teach them the “off” command so that you can have them calm when necessary.

7. ‘Down’

Finally, perhaps the second-easiest command in combination with “sit,” “down” is another useful command–especially during vet examinations, grooming sessions, and while hosting guests.

Teaching your canine companion these commands is so much more than teaching them obedience. It’s building a deeper, more profound connection between the two of you, with the help of trust, loyalty, and affection.

— Zara Lewis, exclusive to Global Animal

Zara Lewis is a regular contributor at Highstylife.com magazine and a full-time animal lover. Originally from Chicago, she found her place in the sun in Perth, Australia. Passionate about creating a better world for the generations to come, she is a mum of two, raising them inseparably from their furry family members.