Training is an aspect of pet ownership that daunts many a prospective animal lover. The popular notion is that if you don’t get it right, you are going to be stuck for years with an unruly beast of a pet. While utter lack of training can and does result in pets with little to no discipline, there is scope for variation, personal preference, trial and error, when it comes to dog training. This is because dogs have evolved alongside humans for the better part of several millennia and are genetically conditioned to form behaviour patterns that are considered desirable by us, humans.
So, you’re the proud owner of a cute little pup and having had no proper experience in doggie care, you are a bit clueless when it
comes to how you’re going to train your dog; Fret not, for here’s a comprehensive beginner’s guide to teaching basic commands
to your new best friend.
This is by far the easiest command to get your dog to master. Though seemingly superfluous, this
can be a very useful command when your dog gets into a confrontation or an aggravated state, and
requires calming down. Here’s how to get your dog to understand your command to sit:
- Hold a treat close to their nose
- Move your hand up, getting their head to follow the treat, which makes their bottom descend
- Once in sitting position, say “Sit” clearly and loudly, and give the treat; It also helps to shower affection when they get it right
- Repeat multiple times daily until your dog learns to understand the command.
This is also a very useful command to ensure your dog’s safety. When not on a leash or skirting
with potential danger, this command gets your dog to return to safety. Doors and gates left open
are easily negated in a pup with a good solid grasp over this command.
- Put a leash and collar on your dog.
- Get to his level and say, “Come,” while gently tugging at the leash.
- When he gets to you, reward him with affection and a treat.
Once your dog gets the hang of it with the leash on, try doing the same without it and in an enclosed area.
This can be a difficult command to get your dog to follow because it’s very blatantly a gesture of
submission and some dominant breeds need some real doing before they’ll start following it.
- Keep a nice smelling treat your dog likes in your closed fist
- Bring your fist close to your dog’s nose and then lower your hand to the floor, getting it’s nose to follow
- Drag your fist along the ground, indicating your dog to get his body to follow his head
- Say “Down” and treat your dog with the treat and some petting
If your dog tries to sit up or pounce towards the treat, counter with a firm but calm “No” and take
your hand away.
Patience is key with this command; Encourage every single step your dog takes in the right direction
with positive reinforcement like treats or shows of appreciation.
Make sure your dog has mastered the “sit” command before you attempt this one. It’s useful to
remember that this can also be a slightly annoying command to get some dogs to master because
of naturally high energy levels that make it hard for your dog to exhibit restraint of movement.
- First, ask your dog to “Sit.”
- Then open the palm of your hand in front of you, and say “Stay.”
- Take a few steps back. Reward him with a treat and affection if he stays.
- Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat.
- Always reward your pup for staying put — even if it’s just for a few seconds.
This can be a useful command to prevent your dog’s curiosity from getting the better of itself. When
your up sniffs at something potentially dangerous or toxic, this is a very useful command to
have in your arsenal. The only way you can accomplish this is by getting your pup to understand
that he gets something better for passing up on what captured his initial fancy.
- Place a treat in both hands.
- Show him one enclosed fist with the treat inside, and say, “Leave it.”
- Let him lick, sniff, mouth, paw, and bark to try to get it — and ignore the behaviors.
- Once he stops trying, give him the treat from the other hand.
- Repeat until your dog moves away from that first fist when you say, “Leave it.”
Remember to only give your dog the treat when he moves away from that first fist and also looks up at you. Once your dog consistently moves away from the first treat and gives you eye contact when you say the command, you’re ready to take it up a notch. For this, use two different treats — one that’s just all right and one that’s a particularly good smelling and tasty for your pup.
- Say “Leave it,” place the less attractive treat on the floor, and cover it with your hand.
- Wait until your dog ignores that treat and looks at you. Then remove that treat from the floor, give him the better treat and share affection immediately.
- Once he’s got it, place the less tasty treat on the floor… but don’t completely cover it with your hand. Instead, hold it a little bit above the treat. Over time, gradually move your hand farther and farther away until your hand is about 6 inches above.
- Now he’s ready to practice with you standing up! Follow the same steps, but if he tries to snatch the less tasty treat, cover it with your foot.
- Don’t rush the process. Remember, you’re asking a lot of your dog. If you take it up a notch and he’s really struggling, go back to the previous stage.