Dog Training by Jim Davis

Introduction:

I learned a lot about training after we got our first puppy 6 years ago, from reading and actual training. Most online training guides only give you hints of what to do. They want to sell you their book. It’s not necessary to buy any book, I don’t have one. You can read all you need to know here for free. I will try and make this as simple as possible. You really only have to want to train your dog, and take the time to follow these simple instructions.

I feel the order of command training should be progressive as the puppy ages. These first two commands are taught together for the first few weeks until the puppy knows them well. Do not try and teach too many commands at the same time.

All commands must be spoken clearly and sharply. It’s not always necessary to call the dog’s name first. Obviously if you want to grab and yell NO at a puppy peeing on your bed, you don’t want to say it’s name first, you want to catch it in the act. Your dog learns to respond according to your tone of voice. It learns quickly when you’re pleased, and when you’re not. So your tone of voice is very important in training. You must sometimes put on an angry or serious tone of voice. Just smile afterwards and know that what you’re doing is a good thing!

Commands should only be spoken once. Do not repeat - come, come come. This is very important. If the dog does not obey, then you must make it obey and repeat. Take your time, and start the situation over again slowly. Do not ever hit your dog or hurt it. I believe that choke chains are unnecessary but only hurt a dog. You can control your dog without inflicting pain on it. I’ve seen too many dogs on choke chains, pulling like an freight train and trying to breathe at the same time.

Training should be enjoyable for you and the dog. Go slowly and do not try and train too much at one time. Do your training after the dog has done its business and has had some play. There is no sense in fighting a puppy’s need to play or to relieve itself.

With later more advanced commands, calling the dog’s name first, then the command, is a good practice. Especially if you have more than one dog. Speak the dog’s name loud and crisp, then the command a half second after. Here, in order, are the commands you should train your puppy with.

Commands:

1 - ‘NO’ command - This starts out for when puppy is bad. Puppy soon learns that whatever it’s doing is bad and stops doing it. At first of course you must take the item out of puppy’s mouth, or physically stop whatever it’s doing that’s bad. Also at first, you must grab the puppy by the skin on the back of it’s neck and give it a shake while saying very loudly NO. You must do this while the puppy is in the act of doing something BAD. For example chewing something it shouldn’t, or peeing where it shouldn’t. You should not have to do this more than a few times. The puppy should learn quickly that you’re not pleased. If your puppy has something bad in it’s mouth, a NO command should cause the puppy to immediately drop the item.

2 - ‘GOOD’ Girl/Boy’ - This command is the opposite to a NO command and is very important for positive reinforcement of when it obeys your NO command. You need to tell the puppy what it’s doing is good. This could also be when it’s chewing its toy, or when it’s peeing outside.

3 - ‘SIT’ - This command is perfect for treat time. Make the puppy sit before it gets a snack. Say the dog’s name first, then the command. At first, push the dog’s rear end down to force it to sit while issuing the SIT command. Do not let the dog lunge forward to get the snack, make sure it stays sitting. Use the NO command if it does something wrong.

4 - ‘HEEL’ - This command should be taught after walking for awhile with the puppy. At first puppy will not want to go where you want. Soon puppy will be pulling hard on the leash and this is the time to start training the HEEL command. You basically want to teach the dog to walk with you at your pace, and in the position that you want the dog. I like having the dog on the left side, with it’s head close to my leg and just in front of it.

Again, do not try and teach this command when your puppy is hyper active, but choose a time when it’s had a play and it’s tired. Avoid distractions at first and later practice with many distractions around.

You must hold the dog at a very short lead so you can keep its head where you want it. Each time the dog moves its head away, correct it with another HEEL command and jerk it back into place. As the dog progresses, allow it more and more leash so that you know that it’s learning the command and not moving out of place as soon as it gets extra leash length. Later, you can remove the leash entirely and if the dog still heels, you know that it’s trained. You must still continue to use and correct this command for a long time until the dog really knows it well - off leash. Your time and diligence will pay off greatly with this command.

5 - ‘OK’ - This command is taught at the same time as the HEEL command. It’s a release command that will be used for releasing any other command. It means it’s OK to go ahead. Basically when you want to end the HEEL command, you say OK, and give lots of leash and just let the dog go to walking on a longer leash at first. Later you can go to actually letting the dog go free. But not until the dog masters the next command, COME.

6 - ‘COME’ - This command will be the most useful command you teach your dog. You will be able to let it off the leash anywhere and anytime, and it will come to you when you say COME.

This command should be started at an early age, while the dog is learning all commands before it. Say COME whenever you think the dog is actually going to come to you. Say it when the dog is coming to you. Say it when you want to give a snack, just before issuing the SIT command.

But do not get too serious about this command until later, after the commands above are already well learned. There is the method of putting a 50 foot rope on your dog, taking it to an open field, and staying within that 50 foot distance so you can make the dog come to you at any time. Make him learn that he can’t get away from you, even at a distance, even when he thinks he’s roaming freely. This method works, but is not always necessary. I use a long 9 metre roll up leash and train him with that. Before long, I let him free and call him with COME, while holding up a snack. He soon learns that coming has it’s rewards. Saying GOOD boy while he’s coming helps. This command takes plenty of patience and practice.

It’s very important to start off teaching all these commands with no distractions around but soon you must progress to training with distractions. This command is very important to have obeyed with distractions like other dogs or people around. You really want your dog to come to you if he’s heading towards a stranger in the park, or there is danger ahead like a roadway.

7 - ‘STAY’ - This command will be useful when you want to leave your dog somewhere like outside of a store while you are shopping. You will return to find your dog has not moved.

First put your dog into sit position with the SIT command. Now, issue the STAY command and walk backwards a few steps. If the dog moves, repeat slowly. Take your time here, you don’t want to be issuing too many commands together. Practice this when the dog has had a play and perhaps is a bit tired. It’s almost impossible to teach a dog who’s full of energy and wants to play, to stay.

At first try and get only a few feet back from your dog and don’t take your eyes off of it. Get it used to the STAY command and extend the time it stays slowly. Eventually you turn and walk away from your dog. You should be able to issue the STAY command and it does not move until you say COME or OK. This is a good time to reinforce the COME command to break the STAY command.

Here’s a great combination of commands to practice at this point. You say SIT, then STAY, walk away, then say COME. Three commands reinforced at once! Oh yes, then GOOD boy/girl and give a snack.

8 - ‘DOWN’ - This command is used to make your dog lay down. It’s useful to make it take a rest, or to be still and quiet while you do something.

Down is an easy command to teach. You first make the dog SIT, then use the command DOWN while pushing the dog into laying down. Then give the snack for reward. Do not let your dog lay down on the SIT command. Your dog must learn the difference between SIT and DOWN.

9 - ‘LEAVE IT’ or ‘DROP IT’ - This command allows you to make your dog drop anything it’s picked up in its mouth. It’s very much like a NO command but is more specifically for something in the dog’s mouth. At first of course you will have to remove the object yourself from its mouth, just after saying LEAVE IT. You can start training this command early in the dog’s life. Usually dogs learn this very quickly.

Summary:

Regarding the snack for reward: for most training I use small biscuits, one at a time. For difficult training, try giving some really nice snack like chicken jerky. It will really get your dog’s attention. After some training, leave out the snack sometimes but replace with a good stroking and GOOD boy. You don’t want the dog to come only when you have a snack in your hand obviously. You will use snacks to get the dog to want to obey you. Later, you replace the snack with a feeling of pleasing you, the master. Your dog will want to please you if you’re a good master.

I hope this has helped someone with training. It’s very easy to be lazy and not train or stop training but if you stick with it, in a very short time you will have a well behaved and controllable dog that everyone will envy. It will keep you and your dog out of trouble. It will allow your dog almost total freedom. You will enjoy a great feeling of satisfaction of having trained your dog.

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Copyright © 2000-2007, James B. Davis. All rights reserved.