The 5 commands you need to teach your puppy

“Disaster, to me, means in some big or small way, things going wrong. And that’s obviously a matter of perception, right? Let’s say your puppy chewed up all the shoes in your house. She probably had a fine time doing that. In her mind, a red letter day, the highlight of her puppy life.”

Amy Gerstler

Key Takeaway: Commands can be made use of for making your puppy understand what you want him to do or not to do. You can communicate with your puppy through commands.

In this chapter let us take a look at five basic commands that you will need to teach your puppy. These commands are to make your dog to:

● Sit

● Stay

● Lie Down

● Recall, and

● Heel

These are the five most important commands. They will help you in communicating your wishes to your puppy. Once you are done with these basic commands you can start teaching him more advanced ones.

Teaching Your Puppy to Sit

You will have to start out by teaching your puppy how to sit when given the command to do so. Your puppy shows politeness by sitting. This is a natural form of reaction and shows that the dog isn’t aggressive. It also shows the puppy’s willingness to wait.

When you enforce this command, the puppy will learn that if he wants something, or if you are busy, then the proper thing to do would be to sit and wait. The aim of teaching your puppy this command is that it would tell him when he is supposed to sit and pay attention or to just calm down.

You will need to stand right in front of your puppy. Be calm but assertive. For getting your puppy’s attention, you will need to look him in the eye and say “[your dog’s name], sit.”

Initially, you can hold up a treat just above your puppy’s nose. In order for your puppy to see the treat, your puppy will need to keep its head up and in this process his bum will go down.

As soon as your puppy sits, give some praise. You can say “Yes” or “Good Boy” and then give the treat that he was promised. The goal is for your puppy to associate the action or the word with the treat and the praise that he would get for doing it.

As much as possible, make use of hand signals instead of offering treats. Once your dog gets accustomed to the verbal command, then you can use a hand signal to convey the same. The most common one would be by placing the flat of your hand over your dog’s ahead and in front of it while you say, “Sit”. You will have to keep repeating this over and over again till your dog gets a hang of it. You will need to be patient and keep trying. It is really important that your dog follows your lead and not the other way around.

Teaching the Command “Stay”

There are certain commands that can help in saving your dog’s life and “Stay” happens to be one of those commands. This command will help in avoiding any dangerous situations and also with keeping your dog out of trouble. A pup will understand the command stay easily since it is instinctive for it.

You will have to start out by training your dog to assume the “sit” position.

When your dog sits, you will have to stand facing the same direction as your dog. This will be referred to as the “place” stance or position. Now, you will have to hold the collar of your dog and say its name, followed by the command “Stay”. Do this by placing your palm in front of the dog’s face. However, it shouldn’t touch your dog. Your fingertips should be pointing upwards and your palm should be towards your dog. If your dog stays still, then reward it with a treat and some praise. If your dog gets up, then start all over again. Keep repeating till your dog understands what it is supposed to do.

Once your dog understands this command, then you can proceed towards increasing the amount of time spent following this command. Gradually increase the amount of time for which your dog should stay still. If your dog tends to get up somewhere in between, then you will have to start all over again. You will also need to keep moving around while your dog is staying still. There needs to be a release word that you can make use of for letting your dog know that it can move now. You can use words like “okay” or “come.”

To Lay Down

You will need to teach your dog to lie down. This command is usually combined with the “Stay” command, but is a relatively stronger command. “Down” should be made use of for stopping whatever action was taking place before the command was given. It helps in controlling or restraining the dog’s behavior.

You will have to start out with the “Sit” and then say your dog’s name followed by “Down”. You should hold your left hand over your dog’s head and the palm should be pointing towards the floor. Hold a treat in your right hand. Lower the hand towards the floor slowly and keep it close to your dog’s body. You will need to keep giving your dog some form of positive reinforcement for completing this command.

Once your dog has placed itself on the floor with its elbows and bum resting on the floor, you can give it some praise. This will help in forming a positive association between the action performed and the reward it gets. You will need to keep repeating this command several times till your dog actually gets a hang
of it.

The goal is for your dog or your puppy to learn and follow the command. The dog will need to follow the command regardless of what it is. In this manner, you will be able to stop your dog before it indulges in any destructive behavior.

Like with any other commands, you will have to start from the beginning if your dog doesn’t listen to you.

Teaching Recall

You will need to teach your dog to come to you whenever you call him. Recall is also referred to as “come”. You will have to start out with the basic “sit” position and then move ahead from there.

Start by gently pulling your dog by its collar while saying its name, followed by “Come”. You should do this in an encouraging voice. You want your dog to come to you and this should be accompanied with a gesture of your hand to show the dog what you want it to do. You can lure your dog towards you with the help of a treat or even by placing a bit of dog food at your feet and point at it.

After gesturing for a while, your dog will definitely come towards the food. It is incredibly important that you keep on providing your dog with some form of positive reinforcement so that he knows that he is doing the right thing. Positive encouragement and treats will definitely help the dog know that what he is doing is desirable. You will need to keep practicing this command time and again.

Whenever you are interacting with your pet, and at any opportunity you get practice this command. If your dog does something else instead of coming towards you, you will have to start all over again.

Teaching Your Dog to Heel

This is perhaps one of the most difficult commands to teach your dog. However, with time and consistency, your dog will definitely learn it. Teaching your puppy to heel will not only save your back, shoulders and neck, but will also help in saving your dog’s neck. Not just that, it will also help in saving your dignity and your dog’s too. However, dignity might not be something that your dog would care much for. Your dog would probably want to walk at a brisk pace, sniff, and keep veering off in different directions. You will need to tell him whether or not it is the time for him to go exploring.

Start out by placing your dog in the sitting position. Make use of the usual leash with which you take him for walking with and get your dog to “sit” beside your leg. You both should be facing the same direction. This is referred to as the place position. Make use of the left side to not confuse your dog. Now say your dog’s name and say “heel”. Say this while you are stepping forward with the left foot.

This will tell your dog that it is time to move forward. Your dog will either try to resist or zoom ahead. In such a case, gently tug on his leash and repeat this command again. You will need to keep instructing your dog to stay by your side.

You can pat your leg and say, “Keep with me or over here”. Make sure you say this affirmatively. Your dog should want to follow your command.

If your dog starts moving ahead of you, you should say your dog’s name and say heel in a very calm and authoritative voice. If necessary, tug on his leash and ask him to sit down. If your dog resists or moves ahead, then pull him gently and place him near your left leg. There shouldn’t be any tension between you and your dog. Your dog should want to listen to you. Keep your calm and stay patient. This command does take a while to get right. Don’t forget to give your dog some praise whenever he gets it right. You will also have to teach your dog to stop and sit whenever you stop. When you think you are ready to stop, stop yourself on your left foot and calmly say, “sit”. After repeating this for a few times, your dog will definitely get the hang of it.

Practice this command with just your body language. After a while, your dog will understand what you mean. You can make use of hand signals or verbal commands, whatever works the best.

There are certain things that you should keep in mind while training your dog.

You should never show your frustration or any irritation you might feel while training. This will just confuse your dog or even frighten it. This will create a negative experience not just for your dog but for you as well. If you feel that you are losing your calm, then in such a case, take a break and start again. Stay positive. Your dog should feel rewarded too.

You should be firm and gentle with your dog. Don’t let him take advantage of you. You shouldn’t postpone the training sessions or give up too quickly. It is easier to start training a pup than a dog, the choice is yours.

Make sure that the dog knows who the boss is before you get started with the training sessions. The dog won’t listen to you if it doesn’t think that you are the leader.
Finally, don’t involve too many peoples when it comes to training your dog. If the dog hears different things at one go, it will just get confused.

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