Teaching Basic Commands

"Sit Command. Training your dog to sit should be fairly easy. Stand him on your left side, holding the lead short, and command him to "Sit." As you give him the verbal command, pull up slightly with the leash and push his hindquarters down (you may have to kneel to do this). Do not let him lie down or stand up. Keep him in a sitting position for a moment, then release the pressure on the leash and praise him. Repeat the command word as you hold him in a sitting position, thus fitting the word to the action in his mind. After a while, he will begin to get the idea and will sit without you having to push his back to obey. When he reaches that stage, insist that he sit on command. If he is slow to obey, slap his hindquarters with the end of the leash to get him down fast. Teach him to sit on command facing you as well as when he is at your side. When he begins sitting on command with the leash on, try it with the leash off.

"Lie Down" Command. The object of this is to get the dog to lie down either on the verbal command "Down!" or when you give him a hand signal, your hand raised, palm toward the dog; a sort of threatening gesture. This is one of the most important parts of training. A well-trained dog will drop on command and stay down whatever the temptation; car-chasing, or another dog across the street.



Don't start this until the dog is almost letter-perfect in sitting on command. Then, place the dog in a sit. Force him down by pulling his front feet out forward while pressing on his shoulders and repeating "Down!". Hold the dog down and stroke him gently to let him know that staying down is what you expect of him.

After he begins to get the idea, slide the lead under your left foot and give him command "Down!" At the same time, pull on the lead. This will help get the dog down. Meanwhile, raise your hand in the down signal. Don't expect to accomplish all this in one session. Be patient and work with the dog. He'll cooperate if you show him just what you expect him to do.

"Stay" Command. You have taught your dog how to sit, and now you must accustom him to the fact that you are going to move away and he must remain there. It is really nothing but a matter of patience and repetition. You may have to work by inches. Eventually, the dog should remain sitting no matter how far away you may go, or however long you are away. You can train your dog to stay in either "sit" or "down" position. Sit him at your side. Give the command "Stay", but be careful not to use his name with that command as hearing his name may lead him to think that some action is expected of him. IF he begins to move, repeat "Stay" firmly and hold him down in the sit. Repeat the word "Stay" to fix the meaning of the command in his mind. When he stays for a short time, gradually increase the length of his stay. The hand signal for "stay" is a downward sweep of your hand toward the dog's nose, with the palm toward him. While he is sitting, walk around him and stand in front of him. Hold the leash at first; later, drop the leash on the ground in front of him and keep him sitting. If he bolts, correct him firmly and force him back to a sit in the same place.

Use some word such as "Okay" or "Up" to let him know when he can get up, and praise him well for a good performance. As this practice continues, walk farther and farther away from him. Later, try sitting him, giving him the command to stay, and then walk out of sight, first for a few seconds, then, moving for 3 minutes or more. Similarly, practice having him stay in down position, first with you near him, later when you step out of sight.

"Come" Command. A young puppy will come a-running to people, but an older puppy or dog will have other plans of his own when you call him. However, you can train your dog to come when you call him if you begin when he is young. At first, walk with him on leash. Sit the dog, then back away the length of the leash and call him, putting as much coaxing affection in your voice as possible. Give an easy tug on the leash to get him started. When he does come, make a big fuss over him and it might help to hand him a treat as a reward. He should get the idea soon. Then attach a long piece of cord to the lead; 15 or 20 feet; and make him come to your from that distance. When he's coming pretty consistently, have him sit when he reaches you.

Dog training

Don't be too eager to practice coming on command off leash. Wait till you are certain that you have your dog under perfect control before you try calling him when he's free. Once he gets the idea that he can disobey the command to come and get away with it, your training program will suffer a serious setback. Keep in mind that your dog's life may depend on his immediate response to a command to come when he is called. If he disobeys off lead, put the collar back on and correct him firmly with jerks of the leash. He'll get the idea.

In training your dog to come, never use the command when you want to punish him. He should associate the "come" with something pleasant. If he comes very slowly, you can speed his response, by pulling on the leash, calling him and running backward with him at a brisk pace.

At first, practice the "sit," "down," "stay," and "come" indoors; then try it in an outdoor area where there are distractions to show the dog that he must obey under any condition.







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