If you have a new puppy, it is time for the dog to begin the learning process.

There are certain things that every puppy needs to know. Sometimes those things do not coincide with what its owner thinks is important.

Training a pup is based upon building a foundation of skills that are age appropriate. For example, although an owner might want the puppy to learn “Stay,” this is not possible for the pup to do under the age of 5 months. This needs to be put aside until the pup is capable developmentally.

It’s like teaching a child; a typical 5-year-old is not capable of learning what a 9-year-old can learn, but children can get to a higher level of learning by building a foundation of other skills over time.

Obedience and behavior skills that are best learned under 5 months include:

Potty training: First, decisions need to be made based upon lifestyle, size of dog and daily schedule. If you write down each day when your puppy actually pees and poops in relation to her food, water intake, walking, and active play with other people or dogs and napping, you will understand the effects on her schedule.

If your schedule is not routine, it is more difficult, but you might have other options. These include having someone come in during the day to take the dog out, or using potty pads, so the dog has permission to potty in the house.

Nipping and biting: Biting at hands, arms, feet and clothing has to be addressed when very young or the behavior imprints.

It is natural for dogs to want to play with people just like they play with dogs, using their mouth and paws, but it is not appropriate with sharp teeth.

Trading your flesh for an appropriate chew toy, using bad-tasting deterrents, and exhausting the pup are keys to successful eradication.

Sit: A basic foundation that can be taught at 8 weeks, this skill helps with jumping, greeting, feeding and more. Don’t overdo it or the dog will be difficult to train to walk on a leash.

Leash walking: Walking on a standard 6-foot leash, not a retractable, your dog learns to walk by your side in public and be acceptable in the community.

This is critical if your pup is going to be large and strong so the dog doesn’t pull you. Ditto for small dogs, as they are not immune from pulling and need to learn to behave.

Come: This skill is important for safety. Having your dog learn that coming to you is rewarding and fun and involves no punishment is all about your attitude, voice and body language. A treat, toy or play reward is helpful.

Dogs should only be off leash in a safe area such as a dog park or places where there is no traffic. Only well-trained adult dogs should be allowed off leash.

If you use positive methods that involve rewards of exercise, training time, touch, play and treats, the bond you develop now will last a lifetime.

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training. ajbird@hargray.com