Obedience training is essential for every dog, and should begin from the day you bring your pet home. Putting in the effort to teach your dog the basics from an early age will reward you with a well-behaved dog who will obey your commands and be able to cope with most situations.
This article will explain how to teach your dog the Sit, Stay and Down commands. If you are new to dog training, be sure that you have a good understanding of the basics to maximize your chances of success.
Teaching Your Dog to Sit
The ‘Sit’ command is one of the most basic and easiest to teach- it’s also one of the most important!
If you can get your dog to sit on command, he is much easier to control. As an example, this command can be combined with a number of other important elements of training- such as waiting patiently for the door to open and not jumping up at strangers.
How to teach your dog to sit:
Stand up straight in front of your dog.
Hold a treat close to his nose and start slowly moving your hand upwards. As you lift, he should follow the motion of your hand with his head.
As he lifts his head, he will lower himself into a sitting position. As soon as he does this, mark his behaviour with praise and reward him with a treat.
To cue this to the ‘sit’ command, when you mark the behaviour (either with a ‘Yes!’, ‘Good boy!’ or a clicker) follow this with the phrase ‘Sit!’.
As with all training, it is important to keep repeating these steps so that your dog becomes used to responding to the command. However, your dog (especially if he is a puppy) will get bored if you repeat this too much in one session, so be sure to do this in short bursts.
You can also reinforce the command by having your dog sit before a number of other situations, such as before you feed him, take him out for a walk or give him his favourite toy. Whenever he sits, remember to praise him and repeat the command- ‘Good boy, sit!‘
Teaching Your Dog to Stay
In contrast to sitting, the ‘stay’ command is one of the more difficult to train- especially with puppies. However, this is a vital instruction for your dog to learn, and can literally save his life in some situations.
How to teach your dog to stay:
Put your dog on a leash and have him sit next to you.
Hold your open palm in front of his nose and say ‘Stay‘.
Step in front of him, waiting a few seconds before standing next to him again.
Reward him with a treat and praise for obeying the command to stay.
If he breaks the command and moves, don’t scold him- simply say ‘Oops’ and have him go back to his starting position. Give the command to stay along with the open palm hand signal.
After rewarding him, teach him a phrase that let’s him know he can move again- for example ‘Okay!’.
As always, the key to success when training your dog to stay is consistency- both with the commands that you use and the way you react to him. Practice this several times each day in different locations around your house.
Teaching Your Dog to Lie Down
The ‘down’ command is a very useful skill that can help you to properly control your dog and improve his general obedience. When lying down, there are a number of things that he can’t do, such as running around, begging for food or jumping up to the counter. Because of this, the down command is an essential part of obedience training- when your dog masters this he’ll be well on his way to being the well-behaved and obedient pet you wished for!
Be aware that a shy or nervous dog may be slightly more difficult to teach as the ‘down’ position is a submissive posture. It is important to keep your tone of voice happy, letting your dog know that there is nothing to worry about. Also be sure to reward him with plenty of praise and treats when he obeys you.
How to teach your dog the down command:
Hold a treat in your closed hand, and bring it in front of your dog’s nose.
When he notices the treat, slowly move your hand towards the floor in front of him. You’ll notice that his head will follow your hand on the way down.
As his head follows your hand, move your hand towards you on the floor in front of him. The rest of his body will follow his head and he will stretch out on the floor in the ‘down’ position.
When he completes the down position, open your hand and allow him to take the treat from you.
Mark the behaviour and say ‘down‘ as you praise him to cue the action with the phrase.
As you move your hand away, your dog may lunge towards it to grab the treat. If he does this, calmly say ‘No’ and move your hand away before he gets the treat. If he breaks the command by sitting up, back away and begin again. Never scold him or try to push him down.
With all of these commands, it is vital that you remain patient with your pet- different dogs learn at different speeds, and make sure that you do not lose your temper as this will only undermine your efforts. Stick with it, and your dog (and you!) will have mastered the basics of obedience training.
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