Everyone loves a well-behaved dog; here is how to ensure yours is one.
Whether your dog is a puppy, an adult or a senior pooch, he needs to know basic obedience commands. Teaching him the Sit, Down, Come and Stay will help make him a joy to live with and welcome in many homes and places—and even some businesses.
- Attach your dog’s leash to his collar. Hold the leash in one hand and hold a treat in the other.
- Hold the treat high up above your dog’s head and toward his back. Say, “sit” as you do this. You can also use a visual cue at the same time. Many people hold their non-treat hand out flat, with their palm facing the dog, above the dog’s head.
Your dog will look up at the treat over his head and naturally sit down. As soon as his butt hits the ground, reward him with a treat or toy and plenty of praise.
- Practice the sit command several times a day for at least three days in a row. Eventually, treats won’t be needed, although it’s a good idea to reinforce this command with a treat every now and then to keep your dog fresh.
- Ask your dog to sit.
- Grasp a favorite treat in your thumb and index finger and hold it in front of your dog’s nose.
- Say “down” as you move your hand slowly to the floor. Your dog will follow the treat with his nose. He will probably start to lick it or nibble at it while it’s in your hand. He will start to lie down so he can reach the treat in your hand as you gradually lower it.
- As soon as your dog’s body is all the way down on the floor, you can give him the treat. Don’t give it to him until he lies all the way down.
Your biggest challenge in teaching the down command might be getting your dog’s rump to the floor. Some dogs will only lower their front end, keeping the backend up in the air. If your dog does this, do not give him the treat until his rump goes down to the floor. You can help encourage him to perform the down correctly by pulling the treat toward you so he has to stretch out to get to it. Hopefully, his back end will hit the ground in the process. When it does, give him the reward immediately, along with lots of praise.
Eventually, you can say “down” and move your hand to the floor as an accompanying visual cue without the treat. When your dog has made it all the way to the floor and can hold the down for at least a minute, release him and give him a treat or toy as praise.
- Begin this exercise indoors. Get a box of dog treats. Shake the box and then give your dog a few of the treats. You want him to know that the sound of the box shaking means he’s going to get something to eat.
- Attach your dog’s leash to his collar and stand in front of your dog, holding the leash and the box of treats. Enthusiastically say your dog’s name and then the word “come.” Add the visual command of waiving your hand toward your body as if to signal someone to come to you.
When your dog comes toward you, take some steps backward. When he follows you, make a big fuss over him and give him some treats from the box. Only give him treats if he follows you. If he doesn’t follow you, walk back up to him and try it again.
- Practice this maneuver several times a day for three days. Pretty soon, your dog will come toward you when you say his name and the word “come,” even if you don’t have the box of treats.
- Put some treats in your pocket. Attach your dog’s leash to his collar.
- Tell your dog to sit.
- Hold the leash and stand in front of him. Say “stay,” and hold up your hand to your dog’s face, with the palm facing him. If he moves, make him go back to where he was and say, “stay” again, repeating the hand gesture.
- Do this a few times until he doesn’t move when you step away from him. Once he stays put, tell him he’s a good boy and give him a treat.
You will need to practice this exercise for a few days, several times a day. Once your dog learns to stay when you tell him to, you can start to make it a bit harder for him. Ask him to stay for longer periods of time. Eventually, move to an area with distractions that will challenge his attention. If he stops listening to you, go back to the basics of teaching this command.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com and hollywoodhoofbeats.net/