Basic Dog Training

Thankfully, dog training has come a long way in the last ten years or so. The days of”I say, you do” are gone, now that most people understand the way that dogs learn.

Puppy Training Basic

The first few weeks of your puppy’s life in his new home are extremely formative in terms of training. Sitting, lying down, coming when called, and even much more complicated exercises, such as retrieving and doing tricks, can be easily taught between 8 to 16 weeks of age, as long as the dog’s motivation is sufficient. This is the fase in a puppies life that they will learn the most. Every experience they have over that time will set them up for life

Training a dog to do what we want, when we want it to, is really about teaching a foreign language. Dogs already know how to sit, lie down, and run around. All we are doing is teaching them that our words for such things can prompt these actions and that rewards will follow.

Just as most humans need the motivation of a salary to go to work every day, so dogs need some kind of reward for learning new behavior. Not many people would work for a pat on the head from the boss and few dogs work for praise alone, particularly in the early stages of training. For many dogs, particularly puppies, food is the equivalent of a month’s salaryit can act as the ultimate reward, and is also useful as a lure in the initial stages of training, too.

However, you don’t want to rely on food forever, so the use of a “conditioned reinforcer” is essential. This means that you give the dog a signal that it has done the right thing and that a reward is coming. To build this signal you can use a small tool called a clicker, or a single sound, such as “Yes” that you pair with a food reward.

Make the sound, then give the pup a food treat. Repeat this several times until the sound makes your pup look around instantly for its reward. You are now ready to begin training.

this signal you can use a small tool called a clicker, or a single sound, such as “Yes” that you pair with a food reward. Make the sound, then give the pup a food treat. Repeat this several times until the sound makes your pup look around instantly for its reward. You are now ready to begin training.

Coming When Called

 

  • Stand in front of your dog and call in a friendly voice. “Sam, come!”
  • Wiggle a piece of food in your outstretched hand. Start moving backward. Clap your hands or make a noise if your dog ignores you.
  • If the dog moves just one step toward you, make the sound that tells the dog it is right: “Yes,” or click, then give the food.

left: The smaller and tastier the food treat used in training, the better.

Coming When Called

  • Stand in front of your dog and call in a friendly voice. “Sam, come!”
  • Wiggle a piece of food in your outstretched hand. Start moving backward. Clap your hands or make a noise if your dog ignores you.
  •  If the dog moves just one step toward you, make the sound that tells the dog it is right: “Yes,” or click, then give the food.
  • Gradually increase the distance it has to come to get the food. Practice by calling your dog to you at unusual moments in and around the house.

Sit

  • Hold a food treat close to your dog’s nose. Now lift your hand up and back, so the dog has to look straight up. The movement of looking upward means its rump has to go down.
  •  As soon as your dog’s rear hits the ground, give the signal and then the treat.
  •  Add the word “Sit” just before the dog’s bottom hits the floor. Ask your dog to sit before it gets anything in life it likesgoing out for a walk, being petted, or groomed, or having dinnerit’s the dog’s way of saying “please” and “thank you.”

Down

• Place the food lure on your dog’s nose. Lower your hand straight down to the floor, directly between the dog’s front paws. Hang on to the treat by turning your palm down, with the food hidden inside your hand.

  •  Be patient! As your dog tries to get the food, its head and body must lower to the floor. As soon as it flops down, give the signal that it has done the right thing, then treat. For dogs that don’t catch on too quickly, pass the food or toy under a low-level chair or table, so the dog has to follow the lure underneath it by dropping down.
  • Add your word command when the dog is lying down reliably for the food.

Gradually ask your pup to do more for each signal of reward and treat. This means extending how long it will sit or lie down when you ask, how far and how quickly it will run when called, and working among distractions. When all these exercises are reliable, reward the dog only for fastest responses, sometimes with food, and sometimes with praise or a toy. Keep the dog guessing about what reward will follow and it will try even harder.

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