Training your dog to obey simple commands is not difficult, as long as you show kindness and perseverance. The rewards are great.
A trained pet is easy to control and never causes any difficulties or embarrassment for you or your family. Training is also good for the dog, because it helps give him a feeling of security – he knows his place in the world.
Training of a very simple kind can begin when a pup is only a few months old. But, at that age, make it a game – a puppy, like a child cannot concentrate for long.
For most breeds, the best age to begin teaching is about 6 months old. Before then, just concentrate on house training. The simplest and most effective way of giving your pet clean habit is to put him outside after every meal, sleep or game. He will soon realize what is expected of him.
When you comment serious behavior training, remember that your most important aids are praise and reprimand. Always praise your dog when he merits and scold him when he disobeys. A gentle pat on the head or a slap with rolled-up newspaper, mean more to a dog than any word.
Never train your pet during the heat of the day, or when his mind is obviously elsewhere. Give your lessons in a place free of distractions and when you are in a good mood.
Try to keep your temper. If you become really annoyed, put the animal in his kennel until you feel relaxed.
Don’t make training sessions too long – 15 minutes a day is ample. Remember, never scold your pet for something he has done some time before. You must catch him in the act, or immediately afterwards. Also, never call him to you for punishment – always go to him.
Use the same words, and the same tone of voice, when training. A dog understands your tone better than words. For example, if you say “no” in an offhand way, he will misunderstand and continue doing what he is supposed not to be. Say “no” in a tone he understands to be final.
Always show your dog what you want to do. If you want him to remain in a certain place, take him there and show him what he has to do. Don’t say: “Go over there and sit down by the gate.” He has no way of understanding what your words mean.
COME is possibly the most important command of all. When you say it, your pet must come to you immediately, and without hesitation.
Some people try all kinds of lures to get their pup to respond. When he refuses to budge, they get very angry. Don’t make the same mistake.
Remember, a dog is not as clever as you. He does not understand the meaning of the word, unless it is associated with an act. Therefore, when you call the puppy to you and do nothing else, it is not surprising that he does not respond.
The simplest method of getting through to a puppy is to tempt him with a piece of food. Before calling him, tease him with the food, then back away. As you move backwards, call COME.
You will find that his appetite will soon win and he will soon follow you about.
Repeat the exercise a number of times until he realizes that if he comes he will get a reward, either a piece of food or a pat on the head.
After repeated practice, you can do away with the lure, and he will obey your command automatically.
But what do you do if you are sure your dog understands COME, but for one reason or another, won’t obey you?
Usually he is engrossed in something else – say examining a leaf. Shouting is useless. To get his attention – and obedience – you must create more interest than what he is doing. Do this by making a fuss – waving your arms and otherwise acting like an excited schoolchild.
As soon as you have the dog’s interest, walk away from him, repeating the command COME. His curiosity will make him follow you. This method seldom fails to work with even the most difficult pup.
Remember never to scold your puppy when he comes to your side, even if he is 20 minutes late. A frightened puppy will never obey you.
A basic command which will save you endless trouble is NO. It can be used to keep your dog off your chair, from chasing cats, or barking for no good reason.
One word is all you need. Unfortunately, many dog owners use a whole sentence. For instance, the family pet might be discovered digging in the rose bed. Some owners shout: “Stop that at once, you dreadful dog, or I’ll beat you black and blue!”
By the time the owner has finished, the dog has uprooted another rose.
Making more threats is no help – the dog can think you are merely talking generally. But the word NO, uttered in the correct tone, can never be mistaken.
Dogs are pretty shrewd creatures they soon realize what NO means.
At first, always physically prevent the dog from continuing whatever it is that is annoying you. A light smack on the rump may be necessary.
You should not, however, use NO indiscriminately. Many dogs have been turned into neurotics because their mistresses shouted NO whenever there was even the vaguest suspicion that the dog was contemplating some misdeed.
Remember, don’t waste words. Say NO and mean it.
HEEL: Every dog should be taught to behave himself on the lead. A struggling, uncontrolled pet is embarrassing for you, and a pest to others.
Ideally, a dog should walk on his owner’s left side with his head in line with the owner’s body. In this position, the animal is under control and the lead will not get tangled with pedestrians, lamp posts, or your feet.
Training to heel should start in the home, as the street has too many distractions. Begin training in an enclosed area, such as a hallway.
Fasten the lead to your dog’s collar, take the end of the lead in your right hand so that it falls across the front of your body, then slowly walk forward.
Give the command HEEL. Pull the dog into your left leg so that his shoulders are level with your seat.
If he tries to pull ahead, jerk him back firmly, the lead parallel with his back.
(Upward jerks may injure his windpipe.) When the dog is in the correct position, praise and pat him.
Once you feel your pet has learned to heel, practice in a less confined space, such as the garden. Move around as you walk, so that the dog learns to stay with you as you change direction.
Your dog may forget his lessons as soon as he is in the street. Don’t let him.
If he insists on pulling on the lead, whirl the end of the lead around in front of you like a propeller. Then, every time the dog pulls forward, the lead will slap him on the nose.
By using the commands SIT and STAY you can safely leave your dog while you go elsewhere, such as into a shop.
Most owners make the mistake of teaching their dogs to STAY before teaching them to SIT. This is putting the cart before the horse, because most dogs, if told to stay, will usually sit.
However, you will want your pet to wait for your command, so begin with the lesson SIT.
To teach SIT, hold the dog’s lead in your right hand. Put your left hand on his hindquarters. Then, with one movement, lift his head and push down on his rear, at the same time saying SIT.
Every time the dog carries out your order correctly, praise him.
To teach STAY, snap on the dog’s lead and command him to sit. Then stand a lead’s length in front of the dog and order STAY! – at the same time illustrating the command by using your outstretched arm with palm facing the animal.
If the dog moves, take him back to his original position. Gradually, you can move further and further away. Do not keep repeating STAY. Once is enough, followed by a return to the original position before using the command again.
Use a short lead, and when the animal is capable of staying several feet away from you, drop the lead and increase the distance. Should he move, snap on his lead and return him to his original position.
The dog must understand that your command is binding. To test him, step over or around him or place a tidbit a few feet away. He should not move until you allow it.