Everyone is very excited when we bring a new furry friend into our home. We all want our new family member to be healthy and happy. We also want them to have manners. Just like children, it is up to us to train them and give them the tools to be successful.
I have found that you can be most successful if you use positive reinforcement and make it fun for both you and your dog. Here are a few easy things to try:
1) Sit is one of the most popular and useful behaviors: Holding a soft treat in your hand, as your dog is standing in front of you, hold the treat above the dogs head and in a happy, yet firm voice say “SIT” as you pull the treat towards the dog and using your free hand behind the dogs rear legs. This cradles them into a sitting position. When the sit, give them the treat and in a happy voice, say “good dog”. Repeat several times
2) Take it and Leave it: This is a great way to teach your dog what is acceptable to put in their mouths and what is not. It is also the building block for other behaviors, such as fetch. Using a soft treat broken into small pieces have your dog sit or stand in front of you. In a happy, calm voice say “Take It” as you give the treat to the dog. Repeat saying “Take It” three times, remember to give the dog the treat when you say take it. The fourth time, hold the treat in your hand and in a loud firm voice say “Leave It”. The second the dog doesn’t attempt to take the treat say “good leave it, and then take it as you give them the treat. Repeat this cycle four or five times. Usually by the time you get to the third or fourth Leave It, the dog will not try to take the treat. This is a trick that everyone in the family can do with your dog. Do this ten to fifteen minutes at a time once or twice a day.
3) Bring it: This is the next phase after Take It/Leave it. Use one of your dogs favorite toys or ball. Put your dog on a 6 foot leash. Get your dog excited to play with the toy and throw the toy a short distance and as you throw it, say “Take It”. When the dog picks the toy up, say “Bring It” as you gently pull the leash towards you. When the dog comes back to you, say good bring it and give them a treat. Once they get the concept of bring it, you can teach them “Drop It”.
4) Off versus Down: There is a difference. Off means to get off of the couch, get off of me…Down means to lay down, to hit the ground. If you have a dog who wants to jump on you or get on furniture uninvited, we want to teach them “OFF”. There are several ways to teach this. When you see that the dog is going to jump on you, turn your back and say “OFF” in a firm/loud voice. Do not touch the dog with your hands or run as this will signal play time or that it is acceptable behavior. Tell the dog to “SIT” and when the dog sits, reward with a treat. If the dog is persistent in jumping, face the dog and bring your knee up to meet the dog in the chest as you say “OFF”. Do not reward the dog until the dog settles and sits on command. If the dog is on a chair and you do not want the dog there, approach and say “OFF”, as you grab their collar and gently guide them off of the furniture. Once they are off, reward with a small treat or love and affection.
5) To teach down, it is easiest once the dog has mastered sit on command. Have a yummy treat in your hand. With your dog in the sit position, as you say “DOWN” in a calm/firm voice , make an “L” shaped movement by coming straight down past the dogs nose and bring your hand towards you. The dogs’ natural instinct is to follow your hand. When the dog lays down, say “good down” in a happy voice and give them the treat.
From these simple commands, you can teach your dog many other behaviors and techniques that could save its life and creates a bond between the two of you.
Items recommended for successful training:
A) A six foot and a ten foot lead. Cotton is preferable when first training.
B) A variety of soft training treats or jerky treats. My top picks are Elm jerky and soft treats, Bil Jac treats and Zuke’s treats.
C) For “Bring It” use treats or your dogs’ favorite toy.
D) A treat bag for your belt or wrist
E) A quiet area to train with few distractions when you first start. Then move to a place that has distractions. Concord Pet welcomes people and their pets in our stores to practice new behaviors with distractions!
Any questions, please ask your favorite Concord Pet employee.
EJ Johnson, Manager Pulaski Highway location 302-836-5787