Training your puppy can feel like a daunting task, but it can make your life with your special family member easier and more gratifying. The benefits of obedience training outweigh the work it takes, and the experience will be rewarding for the both of you!
Benefits of Obedience Training for Your Dog or Pup
According to numerous studies done, obedience training can prevent future development and behavioural problems in dogs. They are less likely to create bad behaviours from stress and confusion due to their inability to communicate with you. Obedience training will also create a unique bond between you and your dog. You will learn how to read your dog and their quirks while they are learning your expectations. You will be creating a positive and loving relationship between the two of you.
Training while your dog is still a pup is the easiest route but not necessary. As stated in our previous article, “How to Train Your Dog or Pup to Guard Your House”, the best time to start is when your puppy is 7-12 weeks old. I’m going to show how to master four basic commands and from there you can eventually lead into more challenging commands.
#1 – Sit
Sit is the first command you will want to teach your pup. It’s not only the easiest, but it lays the groundwork for down and lay. The ‘sit’ command helps for you to get your pup’s attention so he can focus on you. Keep in mind; his final sitting pose should be with his bottom completely on the ground. Some dogs will try to linger so don’t think you’ve taught your dog properly until he learns the finally sitting pose.
• Hold a treat above your pup’s nose. Most dogs will instantly sit but if your pup doesn’t, try slowly moving the treat towards his ears. Never physically force him to sit! As soon as his bottom thoroughly touches the ground, give him the treat and most importantly, give him positive feedback.
• If you had to start with the treat by his ears, repeat this step while slowly moving the treat closer to his nose.
• Once he has accomplished sitting with the treat in front of his nose, start using your command word. Gradually phase out the treat until he sits on the command. Practice by your front door, so when visitors come over, he will sit patiently instead of excitedly jumping on guests.
• If you are having trouble with this technique, you can try giving your pup positive feedback whenever he usually sits.
#2 – Come
The most important thing you should remember with the ‘come’ command is never to use it negatively! If you are angry at your dog, do not use it. If you are about to bath him, do not use the command! He will start to associate the word with severe consequences and will stop responding.
• Leash your pup and get down on your hands and knees. It is so you are at eye level and connecting one on one. Gently tug his lease and use your command word with a treat in hand. When he comes to you, give him positive feedback no matter how long the process.
• Once your pup has mastered that, start the training without a leash and slowly phase out the treat.
#3 – Down
“Down” is the toughest command for your puppy to learn because dogs regard this as a submissive position. Don’t give up! It will just take a bit longer than the rest of the training. Down is an excellent command if your pup likes to jump on you in excitement.
• Grab your puppy’s favourite treat and hold it in a fist gesture. Hold that same hand in front of his nose. Once he smells the treat and realizes what it is, move your hand down to the ground in front of him. He will follow. As soon as his elbows touch the floor, reward him with the treat as well as with positive feedback. Repeat this step until a few times before you include your command word.
• If he tries to jump up right away, take your hand away and encourage him every step he takes to get to the precise position.
#4 – Lay
Lay is a great command to teach your dog. When your pup gets a bit too excited, it will calm him down. Since it is a form of submission, it will be difficult in the beginning as well.
• Place your pup’s favourite toy between his legs to help encourage him to lie down. When his stomach touches the floor, give him positive feedback and a treat.
• Move the toy a little bit further away each time you practice this command while implementing the command word. You can also increase the time between him laying down and receiving the treat.
• If he jumps up on you, give him the okay to get up, don’t give him the treat. Being consistent is the key.
• If your pup has already learned the down command, you can try incorporating it into your training. It might be easier if he isn’t responding to the toy.
Don’t forget that positive feedback is the best feedback. Your pup will only become fearful of you if you use negativity. Some commands may take longer than others for your puppy to master but don’t lose your motivation! Your pup will not only become obedient in hectic situations, but you two will be able to communicate on a new level.