Teaching your dog some basic commands right from the get-go will help you both settle into this wonderful new homelife together. It’s also a good way to overcome any behavioural issues or help prevent them arising.
And importantly, your dog knowing a few essential commands could keep him out of danger – him responding to you calling him away from a busy road, for example.
So how you do teach commands?
Well, the obvious choice would be to take a class. Classes are also great for social enrichment, so well worth the investment if you can.
But there’s also home-schooling.
And, honestly, I’d say both should be used…
- So he knows that training isn’t just tied to a specific location or trainer, but his home and fur parents too
- To build a bond between you both
- To establish the pack hierarchy
When to start…
As young as possible, but they’ll need to have some kind of attention span, so usually around the 4 or 5 month old mark.
What you’ll need…
A good leash and some treats is all you really need. Oh, and some patience too!
A few tips to get started…
- Train in 10 minute intervals, around 3-5 times per day.
- Once decided on a command word, stick with it to avoid confusion.
- Remember to enthusiastically praise your dog as he learns, he’ll associate the praise with doing something good so will continue to do it!
Command 1 – SIT
Mastering the ‘sit’ command is a great tool for a calmer dog.
Let’s face it, our beloved pooches get SO excited as soon as they see their lead coming out of the cupboard, or their dinner being prepared. They start jumping all over the place, shaking their tail, yelping, doing all sorts of crazy things.
Learning the ‘sit’ command can overcome this exuberant display, calming everyone down!
- Start with a treat in your hand
- Bring it close to your dog’s nose so he knows something tasty’s there
- Slowly bring your hand upwards so his head follows and he starts looking up
- As he head inclines, his bottom should start to lower
- Once he’s sitting, say ‘SIT’ and give him the treat and lots of praise
- (If he doesn’t sit after following your hand, gently touch his bottom as you say ‘SIT’ then give him the treat and praise)
Keep going with this same training every day until mastered. Then put it into action at crucial moments – before meals, before putting his leash on, before crossing a road, etc.
Command 2 – STAY
Mastering the ‘stay’ command is great for when people come to the house, or when you’re out and don’t want him running off.
It can be a tough one though, especially for pups or dogs with loads of energy, so be patient.
- Start by getting your dog to ‘sit’
- Hold your palm toward him and say ‘STAY’
- Walk a few steps backwards
- If he stays, reward him with lots of praise and affection
- If not, start over until he does
As he learns, increase the amount of time and distance.
And remember to reward him with plenty of praise and affection. If you want to give him a treat when he reaches good milestones, that’s fine. But there’s no need to every time – you don’t want him reliant on treats to do what you’re asking of him!
Command 3 – COME
Mastering the ‘come’ command will help keep your pooch away from bad or dangerous situations.
- Start by getting your dog to ‘sit’
- Then pop a non-retractable leash on your dog and walk as far as the leash will go without your dog moving
- Say ‘COME’ in a cheery voice, and if needed, give the leash a gentle tug
- When he comes to you, reward him with a treat and lots of praise
Once he’s mastered this command on a leash, continue training off the leash until his recall is impeccable in all situations.
Command 4 – LEAVE IT
This command often takes a little longer to train, but it’s worthwhile putting the effort in so you have more control of what he’s chasing or putting in his mouth!
- Start with two treats, one in each closed hand
- Show him one closed hand and say ‘LEAVE IT’
- He’ll probably try to get to the treat, but eventually he’ll stop trying
- Ignore him until he stops trying. Then at this point, give him the treat from the other hand
Repeat this training until your dog moves away from the first hand immediately on your command ‘LEAVE IT’
Eventually you’ll move this training to placing a treat on the floor, whilst keeping one treat in your hand. The same process applies, but you’ll cover the treat on the floor while saying ‘LEAVE IT’ and when he responds, you give him the treat from your hand.
Continue until the treat is fully uncovered on the floor and he leaves it there.
Congratulate with lots of praise, tummy rubs and a treat, he deserves it!
Training your pooch takes time, commitment, and a lot of patience. But it’s so worth it. Not only will it make your daily lives easier, the bond it forms between you is incredible.