3 Important Dog Training Cues.
When you acquire a dog to share your home, there inevitably has to be a few ground rules. Every dog should receive guidance throughout his life while. At the same time, the dog should have the opportunity to engage in natural behaviours. Dogs are incredibly clever at learning signs and signals from humans. This Holidays4Dogs article will provide a few tips on three important dog training cues and how to teach them.
Most owners will instinctively teach their puppies to sit, but many pet parents may not appreciate the importance of this traditional exercise. Learning to sit, (and stay), is a lesson in self control.
Its use can be expanded to all sorts of situations, such as teaching a dog not to jump up. Teaching the sit exercise is really easy, but make sure you use it to your advantage in your daily routine. Sit, before getting out of the car, before he eats his meal, at the kerbside etc.
How to do it –
• Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose.
• Move your hand upwards and slightly backwards, which will cause him to lower his rear onto the ground.
• The second his bottom touches the floor, say the command “Sit” and immediately give him the reward and plenty of praise.
This exercise can sometimes be a little trickier to master because it is a submissive position for a dog. However, if you remain calm and patient, results are usually forthcoming in a relatively short space of time. Teaching the dog ‘down’, is the precursor to getting him to settle quietly when needed. Waiting at the veterinary surgery, for example, or settling quietly out of the way in the local pub.
How to do it –
• With your dog in the sit position, hold a tasty treat right up to his nose.
• Move your hand slowly downwards and encourage your dog to follow.
• If he stands up, or moves his nose off the treat, take your hand with the treat in away (behind your back). Pause and begin again.
• Once you have lured your dog lower to the ground move your hand along the floor encouraging him to follow the treat.
• As soon as he is in the down position, say the command, “down” and reward immediately.
The dog’s bottom comes up as the front end goes down! This is a common problem. You can try placing a hand on your dog’s back without pressure. Or, you can practice luring your dog into the down underneath something low, like a chair. A good tip is to use your knee to lure the dog under, which will help prevent his back end coming up as the front end goes down. You could also use a suitable chair or stool.
If you are still having problems then you will need to reward for incremental movements towards the end result – lying completely down.
Reward your dog for any movement towards the down position, such as lowering his head and then reward. On the next go, wait until he lowers his head further, before giving him the treat. Work slowly until he is completely in the down position. This may take several sessions. Patience is the key.
In fact, the younger the pup, the easier it is to teach this. Puppies will naturally be wary of their surroundings and will follow you quite happily off-lead. Reinforcing the idea they must come when called is much easier than it can sometimes be with an adult dog. However, principles remain the same.
For more detailed instruction you can read our other Holidays4Dogs article, ‘How to achieve a good recall with your dog’
Here are the basics of how to do it –
Have your dog on the lead, preferably at least 6 ft in length.
Start in a quiet area, such as your garden or, if you have enough space, inside the house.
Let him sniff around and then suddenly open your arms and call him enthusiastically. As soon as he turns towards you take a step, or two, backwards and hold out a treat. Reward him as soon as he gets to you.
Move to the outdoors and continue the training, gradually increasing distractions.
You can move on to using a very long, lightweight line. Practice allowing the line to drag i.e. let go of it, while you practice recall. You can grab the end of the line if your dog gets distracted, or runs off.
These three basic cues that every dog should know will improve the partnership between you and your dog. Additionally, they can form the basis of a whole host of other exercises that your dog can learn and benefit from.
Training should be an important part of a dog’s life. It is the responsibility of owners to make sure their dog is controlled in public areas and open spaces.
Finally, training enriches a dog’s life, keeps him mentally and physically active and really does improve the bond between human and dog. You can find other Holidays4Dogs training articles here and here.