Teaching your dog essential commands

Teaching your dog essential commands

Training your dog is incredibly rewarding and helps build a strong relationship with your pet. Whether you choose to start with classes or do it yourself, it can be helpful in addressing behaviour issues, preventing problems in the future and mentally stimulating for your dog.

It’s best to start at a younger age as puppies are eager to learn and easier to teach. If you need more detail than what is on offer below, contact a local professional trainer and always discuss any concerns you have with your vet.

Sit

“Sit” is a good place to start and is one of the easiest commands to teach.

  • Hold a treat close up to your dog’s nose
  • Lift your hand up over his/her head, letting the head follow the treat over towards the back of the neck
  • Your dog should lower his/her bottom and sit
  • Say “Sit” as soon as your dog’s bottom touches the ground and give the treat

You should repeat the above a few times every day and give plenty of affection with the treat.

 

Stay

  • Ask your dog to “Sit”
  • Open your palm and say “Stay”
  • Slowly take a few steps back and repeat the word “Stay”
  • If your dog stays, reward with a treat and affection (even if it’s only for a few seconds)
  • Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat.

 

Come

This important command helps keep your dog out of trouble and get him/her back when out walking.

  • Put a long lead on your dog that allows you to start short and gradually increase the length
  • Go down to his/her level and say, “Come” enthusiastically while holding your arms out and gently pulling on the lead
  • When he/she gets to you, reward with a treat or toy and some affection
  • Once they’ve mastered it with the lead, take it off and practice in a safe area

Call your dog several times a day at home and when walking.

 

Down

  • Find a treat that your dog loves, ideally a good smelling treat
  • Hold the treat in your closed fist and put your hand up to your dog’s nose. As he/she sniffs your hand, move it to the floor, so your dog follows
  • Next, slide your hand along the ground in front of your dog to encourage him/her to follow
  • Once your dog is down, say “Down” and give the treat and affection

 

Leave

  • Place a treat in both of your hands and close to fists
  • Show your dog one fist with the treat inside, and say, “Leave”
  • Let your dog lick, sniff, paw, and bark to try to get the treat — and ignore the behaviour
  • Once he/she stops trying, give him/her the treat from your other hand
  • Repeat this until your dog moves away from your first fist when you say, “Leave”
  • Next, only give your dog the treat when he/she moves away from that first fist and also looks up at you
  • Keep repeating this until your dog consistently moves away from the treat and gives you eye contact when you say the command
  • You can build on this by placing the first treat on the floor and covering it with your hand, then your foot, then not covering it at all.

 

Top tips

  • Do your research into your dog’s specific breed to check for any specific traits to be aware of
  • One command at a time
  • Wait until your dog has mastered one command before moving on to the next one
  • Practice frequently in short sessions
  • Stay consistent and make sure everyone uses the same words
  • Keep calm and stay patient

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