From puppyhood through adulthood, your dog should be obedience trained and behavior trained to at least a minimum level.

Why? To assure that your dog not only is a great pet for you but an acceptable pet for your family and community. Your dog is not just yours but represents you in public, both in your neighborhood and anywhere else you wish to take her.

Which skills should all dogs have as they go through life?

The first things to teach your dog relate to your role with them – meaning, you are not only their owner but their leader. You do not just give love, food and play, but you instill in them the desire to willingly please and obey you.

These are not harsh requests for us to expect of most dogs but owners need to begin from the moment they welcome the dog into their home. Setting the parameters for their life with you starts immediately.

Simple rules to begin with include: walking by your side on a four- to six-foot leash, allowing him to be out ahead of you when you allow it not when he wishes it; going out the door first with her behind you; having him sit by your side when you stop to talk on the street; not jumping on people in the house and on the street.

Early development skills such as nipping, biting and potty habits are best begun when they are very young. Being consistent within the family is most important so your dog does not see someone as weak. All family members need to work with their dog since the dog belongs to everyone.

Work toward a quick response system so you are not repeating yourself with cues. Your reward system should be immediate. Rewards can be attention based with play or treats. Reward immediately but also correct immediately so the dog learns what pleases you and gets her what she wants too.

Owners must also be taught. Top cautions are: Not allowing your dog to think that your hands are toys; not allowing them to jump; and being vigilant about when you take a dog outside for potty breaks that are based upon their individual needs.

Of considerable importance when there are children involved is teaching and supervising the children. It is critical whether you adopt or buy a pup or an adult dog to not allow your dog to fail because you do not adequately control the environment.

As your dog gets older or is with you longer, you should be teaching him to go to his “place” in your home, especially when you are entertaining.

Part of this is teaching the skills related to guests entering your home. These both require a decent Stay command, which dogs learns better as they mature and not so well when they are young pups.

We all want the dog that everyone admires. It’s up to you to work toward getting to that goal.

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training.