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Whether your dog is a puppy, a senior pup, or somewhere in between, teaching them some basic dog-training commands can help stop problem behaviours – or even prevent them from harm! If you aren’t sure where to begin with training, these 5 commands are great places to start.
Whether you choose to work on these commands at home with the help of a class or trainer, use positive reinforcement in your training by rewarding your dog to encourage behaviours you want instead of punishing those you don’t. Keep your training sessions short – five to ten minutes – and end on a high note. And most of all, have fun!
This basic command is a great place to start with training, and sets your pup up to do well with other commands like stay.
To train your dog to sit:
- Hold a high-value treat near your dog’s nose.
- Move your hand up (not too quickly!) so your dog’s nose follows the treat. Their bottom should lower at the same time.
- Once your dog is sitting, say “Sit.”
- Reward your dog right away with the treat and a pat, ear scratch – whatever type of affection they enjoy!
Remember: Don’t try to force your dog to sit by pushing their bottom down – this can upset them!
Training your dog to come when called is obviously convenient, but it’s also important for their safety! For example, if your dog gets off its leash or tries to bolt through an open door, this one can be a life-saver.
To train your dog to come when called:
- Put a leash and collar on your dog.
- While holding the leash but standing some distance from your dog, get down to the dog’s level.
- Gently pull on the leash and say “Come.”
- When your dog gets to you, reward them with a treat and affection.
Once your dog reliably comes when called while wearing a leash, repeat the training without a leash. Make sure you practice this in a safe area, like inside your home or in a fenced yard.
Stay is another command that helps you keep your dog safe and calm. It can also help other people – for example, you can use this command to keep your pup at a distance if a guest is nervous around dogs.
How to train your dog to stay in place:
- Ask your dog to sit.
- Once your dog is sitting, open the palm of your hand in front of you.
- Say “Stay.”
- Move a few steps back from your dog. If they stay, reward them with a treat like healthybud Beef Joint Booster and affection – no matter how long they stayed in place for.
- Over time, slowly increase the number of steps you take away from your dog before rewarding them.
Hint: Make sure your dog reliably follows the command to sit before you work on training them to stay.
This command requires your dog to take a submissive posture, which can make it a tricky one to teach. Make an extra effort to keep training for this command stress free and relaxed, and always praise your dog when they’re successful!
How to train your dog to get or stay down:
- Hold a high-value treat – try one with a strong smell (like healthybud Cod Skins, for example) – in your closed fist.
- While keeping your fist closed, hold your hand up to your dog’s nose.
- When your dog sniffs your hand, move it down to the floor. Your dog’s head should follow your hand.
- If your dog follows, then slide your hand along the ground, away from your dog’s head, to encourage their body to also lower to the ground.
- Once your dog is lying down, say “Down” and reward them with the treat and affection.
Remember: Don’t try to push your dog’s head or body down, and encourage your dog for even smaller wins – for example, if their head moves to the ground but their body doesn’t quite get there. This one might happen in baby steps!
🙅♀️ Leave it
This is another safety-minded command to get in the mix – especially if you have a dog who can’t resist investigating every mystery smell or taste they find!
How to train your dog to leave an item alone:
- Put a small treat in each hand, like healthybud Banana Crisps broken into pieces.
- Close one hand around a treat, and show that to your dog. Say “Leave it.”
- Ignore anything your dog does to try to get the treat: sniffing, whining, licking, etc.
- Once your dog stops trying to get the treat inside your fist, give them the treat in your other hand.
As a next step, only give your dog the treat if they look at you when they move away from your closed hand. Once your dog does that consistently, switch to using two different treats: one that’s good enough, and one that’s a favourite.
For this next stage using the same “Leave it” command, train your dog asking them to leave the just-okay treat when it’s on the floor and covered by your hand, then only barely covered. To move into hard mode, first train with your hand hovering above the less-exciting treat, then with you standing up.
Don’t forget to be patient! This one can take a while.
Just as we can, dogs can get tired after too much training – or bored if it’s the same every time. If you’ve hit a slump with command training, try to change things up. Try more frequent, but shorter sessions – maybe five minutes twice a day instead of ten minutes once. Switch up your training location, if you can. Try training outside if you usually do it in the house, for example.
And if your dog is close but struggling with a trickier command – or just not interested – try to up the ante with a new or especially good treat like healthybud’s Turkey Joint Booster. It just might provide the motivation they need!
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
- The healthybud team
DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is not meant to replace your vet’s advice or prescribed medications, but only to suggest additional options to explore, based on your dog’s condition.
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