Teaching Basic Dog Commands
You can begin training your puppy as early as nine weeks old. He should learn to wear a leash and collar and start learning basic commands such as sit and down as well as leave it and drop it.
Positive reinforcement works best. Every time your puppy does something right, give him a treat and lots of praise (happy talk). You’ll be surprised at how eagerly your puppy will want to please you.
If the puppy makes a mistake, don’t punish him. Ignore the mistake and repeat the command in a manner that ensures he will comply.
Training should be short and upbeat. Don’t give your puppy a chance to become bored – they have short attention span. Take breaks often to play a game or just run around together.
A very useful command is leave it. This is used whenever you want your puppy to stop doing what he’s doing. This can save your dog’s life. If he’s chasing a cat into the street, the leave it command will stop him in his tracks.
To teach this command, you must have your puppy on a leash. Put a piece of food on the ground and walk by it with your dog. As he approaches the food, say leave it and pull him away. The say “good” and give him a scratch or a treat. Practice this with food, toys and anything that interests your puppy.
The drop it command is used when your dog something in his mouth that you want him to let go.
The best way to teach this is by trading with your puppy. If he’s holding one of his toys in his mouth, give him one of his favorite treats and ask him to drop the toy as you offer him the treat. When he drops the toy, give him the treat. Keep doing this often until your puppy will instantly drop on command.
Perhaps the easiest things you can teach your puppy is sit. You can teach him to sit by using a treat lure. Stand in front of your dog holding a treat in one hand. Starting directly above his nose, slowly raise the treat upward and slightly out. As he lifts his head to follow the treat, his rump should drop to the ground. Make sure he keeps his front paws on the ground. Once he is sitting, give him the treat and praise him. When he is consistently sitting with the lure, introduce the sit command. He will associate the action with the command and his compliance with the reward.
Teaching your puppy to come when called can save his life in dangerous situations.
To teach come you need to have a treat in your hand and call your dog’s name and “come” then run in the opposite direction from your dog. Once he starts chasing you, stop and wait for him to catch up with you and then give him the treat while praising him. Keep doing this several times a day for a few weeks until you don’t have to run for him to come when you call him.
You can also teach come using a long leash. If your puppy doesn’t respond, just pull on the leash gently but firmly. Give him a treat and praise him when he is in front of you.
You must keep reinforcing what your dog has learned to ensure he retains the training he learned as a puppy.