It sounds like such a simple word, but the Sit command
can help in so many situations. To teach your puppy Sit, you can wait for him to sit and praise him for doing it, or you can lure him into sitting. To do this, put a treat just above his nose, move it back over his head and wait for his bum to drop. Don’t forget to praise him.
Another option is to hold his collar and gently scoop his behind into place. Again, praise and reward him for his accomplishment. By placing your pup into a sit, not only are you teaching him to trust you, but also that human hands on him are non-threatening. These methods work well and can be used in conjunction with each other.
Once you have mastered the Sit, use it to alleviate unruly behaviour such as jumping up. There is no need to scold your dog constantly. Instead, as he goes to jump up, say “Sit” then reward him for doing so.
Start by having your puppy in a Sit or a Down and move away just one step. Return and reward him. Repetition is the name of this game, so be prepared to do this exercise many times. As he gets better, remain close to him but have him stay in this position a bit longer. The Stay is taught in small increments of time and distance. At this stage, it’s best to leave your puppy a bit longer with you close than to walk too far away from him. Once he gets the hang of it, you can start to move further away. Always return to him to reward him for doing a great job. If he gets up, simply return him to the exact place you left him.
The Stay can be unnerving and stressful for some dogs – your puppy watches you leave and when you return, it’s often to correct his behaviour. So reward him often and in the end he’ll be happy to remain where he’s put.
It’s important that you return to your dog at least 60 per cent of the time to reward him, rather than calling him to you. Or say “Wait” instead of “Stay” when you’re going to call your dog out of the Stay.
The more a behaviour is rewarded, the more it will occur. To teach your puppy to walk nicely beside you, use a word (or the click of a clicker) to mark the correct behaviour and follow up with a reward, such as his favourite toy or treat.
At first, walk only two or three steps while maintaining eye contact and reward him every few steps. Over the next few weeks, walk further and further before rewarding him. Your pup will see that walking beside you is a rewarding activity. If he starts to pull, refocus him and reward more often. As you see improvement, you can start weaning him off the rewards.
An easy way to teach your puppy to lie down is to lure him into position. Have him sitting and hold his collar so he can’t walk forward. Put a treat to his nose, then slowly move it toward his toes. Go slowly so he can follow it. Once he’s lying down, give him the treat immediately. You can also use a clicker and click/treat him for lying down. It’s important to show him the Down position without using force.
Check for any light under his belly – a crouch is not a Down. Also keep in mind the shape of your dog’s body. If he is a deep-chested breed, such as a Whippet, he might look awkward, but that’s the best he can do.
All dog owners want their dogs to come when called. Unfortunately, repeating “Come” over and over again will not teach your dog the command. Teach this word with the puppy on a leash – you can’t just unclip the leash and hope for the best.
Where do we start? Put your puppy in a Stay and hold the end of his leash. Bend over and take a few steps back, saying his name and “Come” in an upbeat, encouraging manner. Don’t use the leash to pull him toward you; it is just to keep him near you. If he doesn’t come toward you, stand even closer and try again. If he comes to you, have a party and reward him!
As soon as he comes consistently and enthusiastically, progress to a longer line – a 30-foot line works well. Practise in a low-distraction area and work your way up to more distractions over time. Even if you graduate to the park, leave a long line on. If your dog doesn’t come when called and runs the other way, step on the line to stop him, and encourage him to come to you. Calling him in a louder and harsher tone will not help. Do the Recall exercise many times a day with a substantial reward every time your dog comes when called.