Teaching Your Dog The Basics

Teaching Your Dog to Sit

With persistence you can teach your dog many things, but lets just start with the basics.

Firstly, you have to teach your dog the meaning of the word ‘sit’. The best way is to reward their natural behaviour and name it. When they naturally sit, say sit and give them a reward.

A way to reinforce this behaviour is to hold treats in your hand, allow the dog to sniff and then move the treats from the tip of the nose up towards the top of the head. Nose goes up, bottom goes down!

Once his bottom hits the floor, say ‘good!’ and give him a treat. Once he begins to know what do, you can start saying the word ‘sit’ before you show him the treats. He’ll learn that sitting predicts the arrival of treats and he should sit when you say the word, to get his reward.

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. Repetition is everything in dog training.

Teaching Your Dog To Drop

Once again start by rewarding natural behaviour and saying the word drop or down or whatever word you want to call it.

Once your dog knows how to sit, it’s a simple step to move on to lying down.

Have some treats in a training pouch, and ask your dog to sit. Once he sits down, show him the treats and begin to very slowly move them from his nose to between his paws. Let him lick, chew and smell them, but don’t let him have them just yet. If his nose reaches his paws and but he isn’t down yet, move the treats slowly outwards from his feet to encourage him.

Once he lies down, repeat ‘good’ and give him the treat. Over time, he will begin lying down as soon as you move the treat downwards. It is at this point that you can start saying ‘lie down’ or ‘drop’ before you begin. He’ll soon realise that if he lies down when you say so, he will get a reward.

Dropping can often take a little more time to learn than sitting. Keep up the practice, but if you’re really struggling, try moving onto a softer carpet or rug. Many dogs don’t like to get cold bellies, or won’t lie down on materials they don’t like very much.

Teaching Your Dog to Stay

Teaching your dog to stay is simply an extension of what they already know – they key is to lengthen the time very slowly and gradually.

Ask them to sit, and then introduce the word ‘stay’, with a palm outstretched towards them. Wait for a few seconds, and then say ‘good’ and reward them. Make sure that you then release them with an ‘ok’, so that you can always let them know how long to stay for.

The next time you practice, wait for a couple more seconds before you reward them, and then release – ‘ok’. In this way, you can increase the time more and more. Once they are staying in the sit position without moving, you can start moving away from them.

This time, ask for a ‘sit’ – ‘stay’ and then take one step back away from them, before returning to reward and release them. If your dog moves towards you, try just lifting up one leg, instead. You can move on to taking steps once they get the hang of that. In the same way as before, in each practice session you can take a few more steps.

Once they are really good at it, practice walking around them in a circle, sitting down in a chair, or running past them. Introduce skateboards and bikes, or loud noises or lots of people slowly and gradually, and you can teach your dog a bombproof stay, no matter what happens!