When you are training a pup, it is important to teach it a language that you both understand. By doing so, you will be able to achieve results faster and have more fun! It is also an important leadership step for the owner to establish when building a bond with their pup! In this blog you will see key terms used consistently. (*)Definitions will be at the end of the blog. We also use lures such as treats and positive reinforcement to train.
Command #1: “Sit!”
Sit is a command that is probably one of the easiest commands that can be taught. Pups do this at a very early age even without being asked. It is easier for a dog to look at you and focus when they are sitting. When teaching this command, you will find that the pup learns rather quickly and you can move to the next command.
Teaching the sit command: Take out a nice, yummy treat. Ask the dog to pay attention to the treat. Keep the treat JUST over the dogs nose. Then, use the treat to LURE(*) the dog into a sit position by going up and over the dogs head. Nice and slowly…once the dog is in a “sit” position, say the word “YES!” and reward giving them the treat.
Command #2: “Watch Me!”
When working with a pup, it is always simpler to have them preform a command or trick when they are LOOKING at you. When their focus is on you, they are ready to listen. This command needs to be practiced EVERYWHERE! The local pet store, vet office and anywhere else distractions might occur and you need your pup to listen.
Teaching the Watch Me Command: You can pair this command with the command “sit” as they are always in a better position to focus on you. LURE the pup to look up at you by bringing the pups gaze up to yours using the treat. At first they are following the treat, but eventually they will learn that making eye contact with you is a good behavior.
Command #3: “Down!”
Most dogs usually lay down when they are tired, when there isn’t anything else to do or to get low when crawling under something. Teaching them this command can be challenging at first because the down command puts them into a submissive position and they sometimes are uncomfortable with that. However, once they learn to lay down on command, they will do it easily.
Teaching the Down Command: When teaching your pup this command, you must be VERY PATIENT AND GO VERY SLOWLY. Owners go WAY too fast and the pup ends up just watching you attempt to train them. Take out a JACKPOT TREAT(*). Place this treat DIRECTLY in front of the pups nose. They should be able to nibble on it. Next, SLOWLY take the treat and bring it to toward the ground. Keep the treat IN FRONT OF THEIR NOSE AT ALL TIMES. If they lose focus on the treat, they will sit back up. If they do lose focus, either find a better treat or start over until you succeed. Once they start to lower themselves down to the ground keep the treat in close to their chest, once their entire body is down touching the ground, say “YES!” and reward with the treat! (Hint- if you are still having problems. Sit down, put your legs in the form of a bridge and lure your pup to CRAWL under your legs. Once under reward! Do not collapse the bridge!)
Command #4: “Stay”
Teaching your pup to stay is very important because this will reduce your pup from running off, help them have a better examination at the vet and can encourage them NOT to bolt out of the car when getting out. If your pup is not always on the go and paying more attention on you, your pup is safer and under more control. This command is done in different stages and levels(*) This is stage one. Stage two and three require more distance and distraction.
Teaching the Stay Command: You pair this command with sit and/or down. Start by placing your dog in a sit position using a treat. Raise your hand palm out and say the word “Stay.” Then, wait 5 seconds. Use your RELEASE WORD(*). As soon as their butt comes off the ground, say “Yes!” and reward! If they release before you ask them to make a CORRECTIVE NOISE(*)(Eh eh!) and place them back in the exact position they started in. (Hint-DO NOT ADD DISTANCE RIGHT AWAY AND CHOOSE A NON-DISTRACTING AREA TO START.)
Command #5: “Come!”
This is the #1 reason that owners complain about their pup. It is the main reason that owners decide to visit a local pet store and purchase an electronic collar in order to help with control of their pup. They feel that the pup is disrespecting their authority and have lost control. My RECOMMENDATION is to help train your pup BEFORE this happens and to start at an early age if you can(8-10 weeks.) A pup can learn at any age to come, but it is up to YOU AS THE OWNER to help the pup understand what is required. Without doing that, realistic expectations are not being set to achieve success.
Training the Come Command: When training your pup to come, you must first have a 20 FOOT LEAD(*), JACKPOT REWARDS OR A JACKPOT TOY AND AN OPEN AREA LIKE A FIELD OR FENCED DOG PARK. Once you have these things you are ready!! This command has many stages and levels, this is level one. Practise calling your pup to you when they go to the end of the 20 ft. lead. Crouch down, show them the jackpot reward and when they come to you, stand up and ask them to sit in front of you. Once they are sitting in front of you, say “Yes!” and reward. Send them back out with the cue “Go play!” and then repeat when they are at the end of the lead! Eventually, you can start dropping the lead, letting it drag and practising with more freedom! (Hint- A REALISTIC EXPECTATION: Up to 4weeks to learn this behavior CONSISTENTLY WITH DISTRACTIONS and between 6months to a 1 year to “PROOF(*)” this behavior.)
Command #6: “Leave it!”
This command is one of the most important commands your pup needs to learn. Everytime your pup wants to steal something off the counter or grab something off of the ground on a walk, you should use it. You can use this command on anything you want them to leave alone. For example; Dogs, children, bikes, cars, noises, toilet paper, food, etc. You usually pair this command up with Drop it! They learn to not only leave it, but if they ignore you and grab it, your next command will be to Drop it!
Teaching the Leave it Command: When you teach this you start with TWO treats. One treat in each hand. One hand is the leave it hand and one hand is the take it hand. When your pup leaves one hand alone, they get the treat in other hand! Start with the pup sitting in front of you. Offer one hand closed with a treat down by their face. If they go to grab it, firmly say “Leave It!”. Then, when they back away, take that hand away and offer them the treat from your other hand. Repeat. The goal is for them to sit down, back up and refuse the treat. Practice this daily with everything and use this command rather than saying the word “No.”
Command #7: “Walking Nicely on Leash/Heel
No one likes a dog that pulls and is all over the place. It hurts your arm, the dog walks in front of you, behind you and isn’t in control. Teaching your dog to walk nicely not only is a delight to you, but to others around you. Training your dog to respect the leash is the first step, teaching them to heel is the second step.
Teaching the heel command: You start with leash manners. Start them at a sit next to you. Take a couple steps forward, if your pup goes to pull, you stop. Wait for them to return to your side and then start over. Once the pup is watching you more closely, start them at a sit next to you, ask them to “Heel,” take a couple steps forward using a treat in your hand to lure and then stop asking them to sit. Repeat. Start with 4-5 steps, increase to 7-8steps and so on.
(Hint-It is best to use a wall to use as a guide. Follow the wall walking with the pup and stop periodically. It reduces the pups butt from scooting around and encourages them to sit faced directly forward matching you.) This takes practice, lots of practice!
Lure: to use a treat or toy to guide the pup into position.
Jackpot Treat: a treat that holds more value such as hot dog, jerky or string cheese.
Stages and levels: Training a pup at different levels. Not doing everything at once or at the same time.
Release Word: a word that lets the pup know they are done and to free to get out of the position you have put them in.
Corrective Noise: a noise to startle them, get their attention so that you can redirect and move forward with training.
20 ft. Lead: they can come in a nylon material that looks like a very long leash or they can be on a check cord which is a line with light density and ease to drag along with them. You can pick these up at any pet store in the leash aisle!
Proof: means that the pup can perform any given behavior in quiet areas, areas of distraction and not be so distracted as to ignore you or choose not to.
For more information regarding training, go to our website http://www.ruffacademywi.com and contact Rebekah Hintzman and please follow us on Facebook! Make it a pawsitively great day!