From the desk of Sharda Baker.
Hi and welcome everyone!
This is Sharda with dog training newsletter!
Today let’s discuss about dog obedience training!
THE “SIT” COMMAND
Stand facing your dog with a yummy treat held between your right thumb and index finger, with your palm facing up. Hold the treat in front of your dog at his nose.
Raise your right hand with the treat slightly above your dog’s head then move your hand back over his head.
Your dog will have his eyes locked on the treat, so he will most likely sit to keep his balance.
Immediately as he sits, reward him with the treat and praise him with a “Yes, good boy,” or “Yes, good Rover.”
At this point you are not yet saying the command. Repeat this exercise several times.
Once you are confident that he will sit every time you do the hand motion, start saying the command with “Rover sit.”
Repeat this exercise several times at different locations throughout the house and back yard. The more distractions there are the better because this will help your dog with his concentration level.
Once your dog is comfortable with the “sit” command without a leash, you can add his leash. Knowing the “sit” command on a leash will be important when you are outside on walks.
THE “DOWN” COMMAND
Now that your dog knows the “sit” command, the down command will be a snap! Start by luring your dog into the “sit” position. Hold a treat in your right hand between your thumb and index finger, with your palm facing down towards the floor.
Your hand will be in front of your dog’s nose.
Lower your hand slowly to the floor behind your dog’s right paw and then back towards his buttocks. When you lower the food on at an angle to the floor, keep it close to your dog’s body. Your dog will follow the lure and he will lie down on his hip. (This is called a “relaxed down” which is a safe and stable position for the dog’s body.)
Once he is lowered all the way to the floor, give him the treat. Repeat this several times until you are confident that he will go down every time.
Once he does, start adding his name and the command, such as “Rover down.” Once he is lying down, reward him with the treat and give him words of praise such as “Yes, Rover, good boy!”
Repeat this exercise several times at different locations throughout the house and in the backyard. Make sure there are plenty of distractions around so you can work on his concentration too.
Once he has mastered the “down” command, put him on the leash and practice it while walking.
THE “OFF” COMMAND
The “off” command differs from the “down” command in that you use “off” when you want your dog to get off of a person or piece of furniture.
This command is especially useful for when you or visitors walk through the front door. Your dog may get so excited that he stands on his two hind legs, with his two front legs up on you or the visitor.
To practice this command, have a treat in your right hand and hold it up high and close to your body. Your dog will try to reach up for it, so move your right arm with the treat to the right and down.
When your dog has all four legs on the ground, verbally praise him and give him the treat. Once you are confident that he will get down every time, start saying “Rover, off” right before he is down. Then praise him and give him a treat.
Repeat this exercise several times at different locations throughout the house, especially at all of the doors, where this behaviour will most likely happen.
WALKING ON A LEASH
Walking nicely on a leash is something that will take some practice with your dog. Dog pulling is a common problem and unless it is corrected at an early age, it will get harder to correct the older the dog gets.
When you allow your dog to pull without any correction, your dog will believe that it is ok to pull. And since you continue your walk, he will think he’s being rewarded for pulling! This is obviously not the message you want to send him.
If your dog pulls and you pull him back, he will only continue to pull harder. This will be fun for him! Therefore, you need to train him to walk properly on the leash.
Before you start walking, stand still and hold the leash with both hands and several treats. Keep your hands close to your body. Whenever your dog looks up at you, praise him and give him a treat. Or, if he is just sitting or standing still, praise him and give him a treat. You want him to know that this is good. He will soon notice that the act of paying attention to you is rewarded.
If your dog begins to lean forward or start to walk forward, lean your body backwards or take a few steps backwards, but don’t pull back. Hold your hands against your body and stand still.
There may be tension on the leash, but just wait. Once your dog slackens his pull, or when he looks up to you, give him verbal praise and extend your arm down by your side and give him a treat.
Continue to praise your dog until he moves forward toward the end of the leash. If he pulls to the point where there is tension, don’t say anything. Once your dog releases the tension, then you can once again praise him.
When your dog resumes standing position next to you, you can begin to walk. Say your dog’s name and the command “let’s go” or “let’s walk” and begin to walk forward. This command should be spoken right before the dog moves forward.
If your dog walks properly without pulling forward, continue to walk and reward him periodically with verbal praise and tasty treats.
If you see that your dog is about to pull forward, stop walking and stand still. Your dog will wonder why you stopped walking so he will look back at you. Once he does this verbally praise him, give him a great, and give him a treat as you start to walk forward.
Repeat this whenever your dog is about to pull forward.
It will not take him long to realize that when his collar is tight, you won’t follow him, rather the walking stops. Therefore, he will want to walk lightly.
In the early stages of this training exercise you will want to practice this in your home or backyard. This way, your dog will have a chance to get used to walking on the leash in a controlled environment.
Then, once he is comfortable here, you can walk him on the sidewalk.
As mentioned in the last chapter, you want to set your dog up for success, not failure. So you want to give him every opportunity to be rewarded.
Because this training exercise will take a lot of practice at first, you may want to use pieces of kibble rather than treats. You can take him on a walk during one of his meal times and give him his meal this way.
Once your dog can walk without needing a lot of correction and reward, you can start giving him treats instead.
THE “STAY” COMMAND
The “stay” command is an important one for your dog to know. Additionally, it is one that will test your dog’s patience because the dog will need to remain in the “stay” position until you release him.
Begin by giving your dog the “sit” command. Then say “stay” while giving him a hand signal of your hand flat in front of him with your palm facing him.
Give him verbal praise and stand still for a couple of seconds, then give him a treat, wait a couple seconds, and then release him with an “ok” to allow him to get up out of position.
Repeat this exercise and each time add on another second, up to 5 seconds in the sit position.
Once your dog is comfortable with the 5 second “stay,” then you will be able to build up to a 10 second “stay.” To do this, ask your dog to “sit.” Right when he sits, give the command to “stay.”
Verbally praise him calmly and give him a treat and continue to praise him as you give him another treat. It is fine to give him two or three treats during a 10 second “stay.”
Your dog will quickly learn that staying still equals a treat! However, if your dog starts to move from the sit position, tell him in an unemotional tone “eh-eh,” “wrong,” or “no.” Remove the treat from his view and ask him to “sit” again.
If he still does not sit, take the treat and lure him again into the sit position, but don’t give him the treat. Once he is sitting again, say “stay” again and repeat the exercise.
If your dog continues to get up during this training exercise, you may be moving too quickly for him. Again, you want your dog to succeed, so it is better to go back to shorter intervals and work on those again, than to push him to do something he is not ready for yet.
If your dog has been succeeding consistently at the 10 second “stay,” you can now try something new. As your dog is in the sit position, begin to walk around your dog slowly, staying close to him.
He will be watching you and will probably want to get up, so say “stay” every 90 degrees of the circle you are making. Praise him for staying still and give him a treat
Again, if your dog tries to move from position, say “eh-eh,” “wrong,” or “no.” Then, if he stays seated, praise him, and remind him to “stay.” Don’t give a treat when you release him from the command. The reward is for the action of “staying” not “moving.”
Practice this exercise around the house and in the backyard—in a controlled environment at first, then with lots of distractions. Next, try it when you are out for a walk. However, this should only be done if you are very confident in his ability to succeed.
THE “COME” COMMAND
The “come” is perhaps one of the most important commands that you want your dog to know—and one of the most difficult for him to learn. When you need to use the “come” command it might be when he has ran out of the house or when he is in a dangerous situation.
Therefore, in order for the “come” command to be effective, you need to stay calm, no matter how frightened you may be for his safety. If you run after him in a panic, he will only run faster and farther away. If you stay calm, your dog will more likely move towards you.
The “come” command should only be given for a very positive experience and you should praise him lavishly when he responds correctly.
For example, if you say “Rover, come” and then you give him a bath, he will associate “come” with a bad experience (if he doesn’t like baths.) Or, if you say “Rover, come” and point out an accident that he made three hours ago and you scold him, he will associate the “come” command with a scolding.
Therefore, every time you use the “come” command there should be a positive reward and lots of praising words waiting for him. He should want to come to you no matter where he is or what he is doing.
The best way for your dog to learn the “come” command is through practice, practice, and more practice. Start by standing on the other side of a room from your dog. Say “Rover, come.”
As soon as he comes all the way up to you praise him “yes Rover, good boy!” and give him a treat.
Repeat this as often as you can. He will quickly realize that you have a hand full of treats and will sit right by you so try different things. For example, go to another room and say “Rover, come.” If he comes, praise him and reward him.
You could also try practicing this exercise down a long hallway or from another side of the house. Have another family member help you and you can make a fun game out of it, sort of like “hide and seek.”
There are many ways that you can practice this command, but the key is to practice it often and always have a positive reward waiting for your dog. It doesn’t have to be a treat; it could also be a toy, a walk, a belly rub, etc.
If you are in a situation, for example you are out in your front yard, your dog is loose and he does not respond to your “come” command, he might not fully understand it yet. In that case, you could try a couple of other options.
First, you could offer him a treat “Rover, do you want a treat?” Be sure to say it enthusiastically and will hopefully come running to you in excitement.
Second, you could try to ignore your dog. For example, he may want you to chase him. But if you ignore him instead, he will wonder what it is you have found that is more interesting than him, so he may come up to you.
A loose dog can be a frightening situation, so the more you can practice this exercise, the more your dog will trust that you have a wonderful reward waiting for him!
THE “WAIT” COMMAND
You learned the release word “ok” to use when your dog has finished a command, now you will learn “wait” which puts your dog “on hold” and to stop what he is doing.
This command is particularly important to use at doors—whether it is your house door, your car door, the door at the veterinary’s office, etc.
It is also useful for the driveway or curb. For example, you might say “Rover wait” before walking through a door, then when you open the door you say “ok!” so he knows he can walk through it.
To practice this training exercise, you will want to attach your dog’s leash to his collar. Approach the door slowly and then stop before opening it. Give the “sit” command. Once he sits, praise him and reward him.
Then, open the door slightly. If he tries to move towards the door, close it calmly and try it again. Continue practicing this exercise until he stays in position and does not move toward the door as you open it.
Once you are confident that you can open the door without him moving towards it, try it again and now open the door wide. Give the “sit” command and walk in front of your dog so you are now facing him. Praise him as you do this.
You are blocking him from walking through the door, so he should not be able to step forward. If he tries to get around you, shut the door, or step forward to block his path, and then try again.
Now, step to the end of your leash. Continue to praise him until you get to the end of the leash. If your dog moves forward, again block his path. When you get to the end of your leash, you can release him with “ok!”
Once you are confident that your dog can execute the command consistently, start using “Rover, wait” with your hand signal.
Practice this dog training exercise at each door and then try it outside on a sidewalk, but only after he has convinced you that you can trust him.
I hope you learned a lot from today’s Dog training newsletter.
I will be back for more!