Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Five steps of basic commands to teach your dog

dogThere are five important commands that every dog should know: ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘down’, ‘come, and ‘heel’. The steps below will give explicit instructions for each command using vocal cues and hand signals. For the purposes of this article, let us assume your dog is named Lassie.
Step 1
The first thing your pup needs to learn is how to sit on command.
As you say “Lassie, sit!” place one hand under the chin or neck and gently push up while pushing down on the rear end. If your dog is on a leash, you can pull up on the leash but don’t jerk. Praise, using the phrase ‘Good sit! Good sit, Lassie!’ He will connect the action, phrase or word with the action and the praise.
As he learns the verbal command, stop assisting the action and begin to use an accompanying hand signal. A common one is to place your flat hand over and in front of his head and while saying ‘sit’, pull it up into a loose fist.
Step 2
When your dog is in a ‘sit’ position, stand so that it is on your left facing the same direction (later this will be referred to as the ‘place’ position). Holding her collar, say “Lassie, stay!” while placing your open hand in front of (not touching) her face, fingertips pointing down, palm facing your dog. Wait ten seconds. If she gets up, say “No, Lassie, stay!” and start again with “sit” and proceed again to “stay”.
Do this until she stays for at least ten seconds and then praise her by saying “Good stay, Lassie!” “Good stay!” Repeat this whole sequence several times.
When your dog learns this command well, you start to increase the length of time; start moving away during the stay. Always move off on the right foot so as to not confuse moving with heel.
Gradually increase the distance. If she gets up go all the way back to the place you started and repeat the sequence, until you can move around freely during the stay. Have a certain command to release your dog from the stay such as “okay!” or “come”.
Step 3
‘Down’ is usually combined with ‘stay’, and is meant to be a stronger command. ‘Down’ actually stops whatever action was happening before the command, so is useful in controlling behaviour.
Start again with your dog in a ‘sit’ position. As you say “Lassie, down!” hold your left hand above your dog’s head, palm toward the floor. Lower your hand towards the floor while pulling down on his collar or lead gently.
Many times he will resist and you may have to either push on the shoulder blades (not the neck or back) to get the idea across (if your dog is very resistant, lift up one front paw while, gently but firmly, pushing on the shoulder blades). Bend over him and crouch down to eye level if necessary. If he continues to resist, say “No, Lassie, down!” Once she is down and not trying to push against your hand, praise him by saying “Good down!”, “Good down, Lassie!” Repeat this sequence several times.
Step 4
The ‘come’ command is also known as the ‘recall’. Teach “come” by gently pulling it towards you while saying “Lassie, come!” in a more encouraging voice than you use for other commands. Accompany the command with a gesture to show her what you want.
First place a piece of dry dog food at your feet and point to it. After a very short time, the gesture of pointing at the floor in front of you will be enough, then later only the command or the gesture will be needed.
When she reaches you, praise her using the phrase “Good come!” When interacting with your pet, take opportunities to call her from across the room by using her name and saying “Come!” and praising her when she gets there. This will make your dog familiar with the command.
Step 5
‘Heel’ is often the most complicated one to teach, but most dogs will learn quickly, if you are consistent. Your dog will want to jog at a canter and sniff and veer off in many directions. You need to show him that there is a time for exploring and a time not to.
Using the regular walking lead put your dog in a ‘sit’ beside your left leg facing the same direction as you. This is known as the “place” position. Always use left to avoid confusing him and other dog walkers.
Say “Lassie, heel!” while stepping forward with the left foot. Always start on the left. This will become a signal that it is time to move forward. He may either resist or hurry past you. In either case give a gentle pull and repeat the command ‘heel!’
If it strays too far off to the side, pat your leg and say “Keep with me!” or “Over here!” or another short phrase, but always say the same phrase to mean that particular thing. If it moves out ahead, say “No, Lassie, heel!”, and if necessary tug on the lead. When you stop, always stop on the left foot and say “Lassie, sit!” and if your dog moves ahead, gently pull or physically place him beside your left leg using the ‘sit’ command.
If things get a little to out of control, stop and place the dog in a sit at your side, praise him and start over. You should always adjust the dog to your position, not adjust your position to the dog’s.
You should get him used to not feeling any tension on the lead unless you are making a correction, or he will get into the habit of pulling constantly. Make your corrections by voice and gesture and only use the lead if he isn’t listening.
You may gently praise your dog while it is heeling well, but keep it toned down so as not to distract it. Once he is obeying the spoken commands consistently, remain silent and only use the spoken commands for correction. The length of time to learn is individual, so don’t be in a hurry to move things along.
Finally and again When you are ready to stop, you should stop on your left foot and say “Lassie, sit.” After a few repetitions you should no longer need to re-use the sit command. Your dog will come to know that stopping on the left foot is the signal for him to stop and sit.
When your dog is consistently obeying the “heel” command properly, start starting off with the left foot and stopping without verbal commands or hand signals.
Also, when your dog is in the ‘place’ position, occasionally step off with the right. Your dog will want to start with you, so you use the ‘stay’ command and walk around him back to the ‘place’ position. Alternate stepping off with the left and using the heel command and then stepping off with the right and using the stay command. After a while you can advance to randomly stepping of with either foot and reinforcing the appropriate ‘heel’ or ‘stay’ behaviour. When you and your dog has learned this well, you will be able to function smoothly as a team no matter where you are.
Source: WikiHow