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Tips for Teaching your Dog some Basic Commands

When you start training your puppy or dog start with shorter sessions at first, between 10 to 15 minutes per session. A session should consist of practicing any previous commands briefly, then a new command. Use positive reinforcement to train, a combination of rewards like small treats, and praise. Try to end each session with a bit of fun or play and lot of praise. The idea is to keep the session short so that they do not get too tired or frustrated, and to make it fun, and for them to feel good at the end of it so that they are happy to try again.

As your dog gets better at the commands you can make it a little more interesting or challenging by doing it in a different place. Move outdoors where there are distractions he will need to avoid. Try off leash but still within arm's reach. Slowly add in distractions. If he struggles with a command when there is a distraction take him back to where there are none and repeat that command so he can succeed. Successful training builds on the dog's successes.


The five common basic commands most dog owners want their dogs to master are;





Heel (walking on leash)

Guidelines on teaching these commands

1) Consistency is vital

When you do the same command it should be with same cue every time. This means if you are teaching 'come' then just use that word, don't use come boy, or come on, or come here. Consistency is key to training your dog.

2) Start easy and develop the difficulty gradually

Begin with an easy command in a place with no distractions so they experience success straight away. When they are consistently responding correctly slowly add in what professional trainers refer to as the three D's, distraction, distance and duration. So things like taking a step away, then two steps, make him stay for one second, then two seconds, have someone else around, a ball bouncing or treats scattered. Do not move on to a new difficulty or challenge until he has mastered the previous one. If he struggles go back to when he succeeded for a while.

3) No command repetition

It is something that you will automatically go to do but avoid it. You are inadvertently teaching your dog that it is okay if he does not respond to your first command. Give your command once and wait.

4) Food treats are great as rewards and lures

While there are other methods that do not require food treats, this one is one the better methods. You can use the treat as a lure to get them to move to where you want them, or a reward for obeying a command along with verbal praise. If food is not interesting them try just praise, or add in some physical love like an ear scratch, or their favorite toy.

5) Timing is key

The second your dog does what you are asking reward them. The praise and reward need to be instant so that he or she connects the good stuff to the action she made. You need your dog to realize that if you say 'sit' and she sits she will get something in return that she wants!

6) Treats will eventually be phased out

When your dog understands the training process you can start to make treats more unpredictable and even eventually phase them out. You can then start to use treats for the time when the response is perfect, or for accuracy, or for promptness. Vary not just the type of treat you use but also how much and mix them up. Sometimes she or he might get a tummy rub, the next time it might be a food treat, the next it might be positive verbal praise.

7) Keep the sessions short

This is very important to avoid your fog getting bored and frustrated. And to stop you from feeling frustrated also if things are going slowly. Sessions should be fun, short and upbeat. Shorter sessions are especially important for puppies who have less of an attention span anyway. You can fit in more than one session a day though.

8) Mixing it up

Once they have mastered a command with you if you want them to also obey your partner or your child, or also obey commands outdoors or even in another room, then you need to practice that as well. Have your partner do the commands too, move into the yard, mix it up.

9) Stay calm

Sometimes this is going to be frustrating but you need to stay calm. Getting angry and snapping or shouting at your dog is not going to be effective. Jerking the leash or hitting are also not going to get results. All you are showing your dog is that training is a time when you become unpredictable and scarey and he or she will not want to take part anymore. If you can feel yourself reaching the end of your fuse end the session early on a high note and leave it for another time. Calm and consistent training is more effective and better for you and your dog.


10) When your dog knows some commands

Once he or she has some commands down always make her obey one of them before you give her anything. If she wants a toy make her sit for it, if it is meal time, make her stay first and so on. It is a good way to reinforce you as pack leader.

11) Practice often

Don't ignore a command once it has been learned as if the dog does not practice it regularly they can forget it. Dogs need to practice their new skills often so make sure that happens on a daily basis even after commands are mastered.

Making sure your dog can obey some basic commands is great for them as they learn their place within your pack and are happier and more confident in different situations. It makes for a happier owner as well as you are established as pack leader and can trust your dog will behave acceptably.

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