As a professional dog trainer, a big part of my job is helping clients with their dog's immediate problems. However, whenever possible, I also try to provide a little perspective on goals they might not initially think of--this is especially true with puppies.
Here are my top three things to teach your dog so they're prepared for the future:
1) Toileting on leash. Some dogs will not toilet on leash. This isn't too big of a problem until you take a road trip and your dog can't (and shouldn't) be set free on the side of the road to take care of business.
I had a client whose dog wouldn't defecate on leash. During a road trip, he held it for three days before my client found an off-leash dog park for him. True story.
2) Crating when people are home. If you're like me, you don't love crates. You use one to keep your pooch safe when you're sleeping or away from the house, but you let him out again as soon as possible and try to limit how long he has to stay inside.
This isn't necessarily a problem until he tears his ACL and is on crate rest for 6 weeks following surgery. Or until the pest control company comes to spray and he must stay away from the pesticides. Or until your cousins come to spend the weekend and their previously friendly dog now hates your dog's guts. Believe me folks, calm crating when you're home is a great little card to have in your back pocket.
One of the easiest ways to start the process is by feeding your dog his dinner in the crate while you enjoy dinner in the other room.
3) The single dog. Often, one of the reasons people get a second, third, or fourth dog is to keep their first dog company. Unfortunately, this can wind up causing problems if the dogs become too dependent on each other. When Dog #1 has to spend a couple days at the vet for a mysterious illness, Dog #2 is a basket case at the house because his pal is missing. When the boarder only has room for Dog #2 and Dog #3, Dog #1 spends a stressful week on his own while you're out of town.
Plan now to spend time with each dog individually so they learn alone time is fun! Single walks, car rides, training sessions, and cuddle sessions on the couch are all great places to start.
Train now, for things you don't need, so you have options for the unpredictable future!