Training your puppy or dog can be frustrating, rewarding, fun and hard – all at the same time. However, if you are to have a good relationship with your canine friend training is a must. Here we will look at two of the most basic commands – how to train your dog to sit and stay.
Before we get down into the “nitty gritty”, there are three things I want to highlight because they are so important to the whole training process.
Sometimes you may feel you are being really repetitive, but this is part of the process to help your dog learn. If you aren’t consistent with both the way you talk to them and act towards them, they will will become confused and unsure of what you are actually asking them to do.
You have probably heard the phrase “start as you mean to go on” and in dog training this is really important. By the time you bring your puppy or dog into your home, you should already have thought about what the ground rules are going to be. For example, let’s consider this scenario…You have a gorgeous rottweiler puppy, who you just want to cuddle up and sit next to, so you welcome them up onto your couch or sofa.
Six months down the line, said rottweiler pup is growing nicely and filling out and is starting to take up a bit more room on your couch or sofa. Another 3 months later and you’re starting to think there’s not so much room up there anymore, so you want to move the dog down to the floor or their bed instead. However, your new best friend can’t understand why he or she is no longer welcome in that spot. Your dog may now be thinking “Have I done something wrong? Why aren’t I allowed up there anymore? What’s changed in our relationship?”
DON’T OVERDO IT
Short training sessions work best, so your puppy or dog doesn’t get bored. Maybe 10-15 minutes at a time and several times a day if you can manage it.
Now we can look at specifically getting your puppy or dog to sit and stay, which are both classed as types of obedience training barbecue they are going to be responses to your commands.
The best place to start, is to get your puppy or dog into a good position to sit. This can be achieved by using a small treat, holding it in your hand and above their head. Let them see it first, or they may not know you are holding it. They will then look up to your hand and with your other hand, gently push down on their rump. At the same time you need to say the command – so you should clearly say “sit”. As soon as they have adopted the sitting position, give them the treat and verbal praise.
Keep repeating this and over time, your he or she will start to do it without any treats. You can consider it “mastered” when they respond consistently to the command without any treats, for several days in a row.
A couple of things to note
- never “force” your dog’s rump into the sitting position. It’s meant to be an encouragement to sit, not a forced position, so should be a gentle pressure that doesn’t cause any discomfort at all.
- if they don’t get it at first, keep trying but stick to the 10-15 minute rule
- if it’s you that get’s frustrated, take a break! They are highly sensitive to your emotions and you don’t want your animal to have any negative associations with these commands.
It’s a good idea to master the “sit” command first, as it’s going to be more natural for your dog to stay if they are already in a sitting position.
This time, start with two treats in your hand. Ask them to sit, and when they do, reward them with the first treat. Next hold a hand up near their face and utter the command “stay”. Start to slowly back away from them, but still facing them – start with only a very short distance. Stop and ask them to “come” – when they do give them the second treat and verbal praise. Until they understand what you’re asking them, they may come immediately, but tell them “no” and start over. Remember they want to please you, so they will eventually get it. Keep repeating the process, moving a little further away each time. Eventually, you should be able to go out of sight and then call your dog to come. Keep the reward system in place until they are well-used to the command and what’s expected of them. Consistency is key, and this is a harder task then sitting!
What if my puppy or dog doesn’t really respond to treats?
Not all puppies and dogs are oriented towards their stomachs, but there are a couple of things you can do. Try starting the treat-rewards system before their normal dinnertime, so they are more inspired by the food. Remember that a “treat” to them might not be a bought product that’s labelled as a treat or training aid – it might be a piece of chicken or cheese, it just needs to be something they like. Another alternative is to use a toy, but my advice would be to separate any training toys from their general play toys. This may help avoid confusion and the desire to jump and get the toy from you, especially if they are used to chewing or fetching them.
What if they jump up to try and snatch the treat?
You need to tell them “no” and start again. You will need to keep doing this until they get the message that you don’t want them to jump up.
Why isn’t my dog listening to me?
It could be you’re sending them mixed messages in terms of your tome of voice. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, this is obedience training. You should be using a tone that your dog can clearly identify as you wanting them to do something. Be clear and firm – and use the same tome ALL THE TIME when you are issuing commands. This will be very different form your “play time” voice and actions!
What if we just can’t get it?
If you are struggling with it, for whatever reason, consider dog training classes where someone can help you in a more formal setting and get you on the right track. In terms of puppies, these classes can also be good for “socializing” with other puppies, so they start to learn good interaction with other dogs from a young age. There are also other sources of help available.
Please do leave us a comment or ask a question if you would like. That’s what we’re here for 🙂