Training Dogs; Teach your dog the Basics
Training dogs can have great rewards for both pet and owner and in this article we will give advice and tips to help train your dog the basics. In the previous article we looked at bringing home your puppy and house training. If you haven't already read it then it may help even if your dog is no longer a puppy. Many of the basic training principles discussed here are used throughout a dogs life, it is never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!
You can read the first of our training articles by following this link; house training a puppy!
In this article we are going to take a closer look at the basic commands of training dogs. You dont have to be a keen dog trainer to reap the benefits of having a dog that you can trust to 'sit', 'lie down', 'come' and 'leave it' when commanded.
Training dogs - Teaching a dog to sit
There are many times when it is appropriate for your dog to be able to sit to command. Crossing roads, introducing new guests or animals can all be times when you want your dog sat relaxed and attentive. Training dogs to sit can be done in several ways but the most common and often most successful is called the luring method. To do this you will need a nice treat that will keep your dogs attention. If you have read any of our other training guides then you will know that repetition and reward are key to dog training. No where is this clearer than with sit training.
1. prepare a treat and let your dog know that you have it. (ensure no distractions)
2. With your dog in front of you, hold the treat just above his nose.
3. slowly raise the treat up and slightly back over the dogs head, his body should naturally assume the sit position.
4. When your dog is sat comfortably, reward your dog with a treat and use the command 'Sit'. (some dogs will respond to hand actions as well so why not try at same time as saying sit)
5. Repeat training, making sure to reward your puppy for every appropriate response to the command.
Bare in mind that puppies can become bored easily so several short sessions of training can be a lot more productive that a long one. Training your dog to sit is normally the first trick to be taught to a dog and you will understand a lot about your dogs learning ability from this first attempt.
Training dogs - lie down
Moving on from sitting down the next useful command to teach your dog can be to lie down. After a lot of exercise or just over excitement, your dog will benefit from being encouraged to lie down. It can also be a great command when introducing a particularly boisterous dog to new people.
As with the sit command you can teach your dog to lie down by using a treat as a lure. With your dog sat in front of you, slowly lower the treat till it is in your hand between his paws. All the time use the command you want and not release the treat until your dog is laying down fully. Once it is down release the treat. Again, try it several times and then allow your dog to play before it gets bored of the game.
remember that whilst to you it is a training exercise, to your dog it is a game with the objective being to get the reward. treat it as such. Reprimanding your dog for failing to understandis unfair and will just cause confusion.
"there are no bad students, only bad teachers"
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Training dogs - teach your dog to come
Teaching your dog to stop whatever it is doing and come to you amid all distractions is a command that is not only practical and fun but also important for the safety of dog, other animals and people. The key to having a dog is to ensure that the command and the dogs name are always associated with good, positive times. The dog should always associate being called to you as a key to a reward for greater than whatever has distracted it.
Training dogs to come can be quite simple but the key is consistency. You must ensure that your command is always the same and that your dog is well rewarded with hugs, kisses and treats for its behaviour. From an early age a puppy can learn this command. Use its natural inquisitive nature to practice the command.
For a more formal approach find a quiet spot with your partner or a friend and have a handful of treats each. With one of you holding the dog the other should walk several paces away and command the dog to come. As it comes, keep encouraging it, calling its name and ensure it is well rewarded. Then you can switch reverse roles with your partner.
Remember to always reward your dog for coming to command. When you stop and think of all the likely scenarios you and your dog will encounter, this command is arguably the most important of all.
Training dogs - Teaching the 'leave' command.
Dogs are incredibly inquisitive and it certainly helps them to learn about the world around it. However, this instinct can also get your dog into danger. Eating poisonous plants, chewing your phone or even sniffing strangers and other dogs are all inappropriate at best. Training your dog to 'leave it' can avoid all these problems.
1. Get two treats. One you are going to keep in your hand as the reward and the other you need to place right in front of your dog. As you put the treat down you need to say the command leave it.
2. IF the dog moves for the treat you need to quickly cover it with your hand and say 'leave it' firmly.
3. Keep covering the treat until the dogs attention moves from the treat. It may glance away or switch its attention to you. Look out for this point and then praise it like its just won you the lottery! Give it the treat in your other hand as a reward (never the one on the floor, remember this represents something dangerous).
4. Repeat several times over several sessions.
Remember that to your dog this is just a game, it will never understand why it shouldn't touch a certain object. your dog isn't a child, with a child you would expect it to learn why something is dangerous. Your dog is only learning that greater reward lies in not touching the object. This must be reinforced with reward on every occasion if you want it to work when it really matters!
Training dogs - the next step
If you have enjoyed this article and feel your dog has mastered all the commands taught in this article then try reading our next one covering more advanced commands;