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Basic commands and fancy tricks

Updated: Mar 28, 2018

There are of course many reasons for owners to want a calm, obedient and faithful dog. For one thing, obedient and trained dogs are happier dogs, less likely to get into tussles with people or with other dogs. When considering training your own dog, or having someone else help you train it, there are certain basic commands that must be mastered in order for a dog to be considered truly trained, and others taught just for fun.




Teach your dog some basic commands


Around 12 weeks of age, your dog is ready for some command training. Pre-training tips:

  • You should hold training sessions with your dog at least twice a day and each session should be approximately 10-15 minutes long (shorter if either you or your dog get impatient or distracted easily).

  • Whenyoufirstbegintraining,keepwithinaquiet,confinedlocationwithout any distractions, then slowly work your way out to public areas.

  • The first step in training is to figure out what your dog likes so that you can reward him with a desired prize. If your dog is of the food-motivated type, prepare some small treats that don't crumble. The scent of a dirt-size crumb can drive your dog insane and distract him from the task at hand. You want to keep the treats small because you want to be able to give him a lot of them, yet you don't want the training session to be ended by uncontrollable barfing. If your dog loses interest in the treats, switch the type of treat. You may also want to try scheduling training sessions around mealtimes.

  • If your dog is more driven by petting or a chance to play games with you(as many small-sized dogs are), haul out the squeaky ball. Don't get caught up in the petting and playing during a training session, though. Just reward your pooch with less than half a minute of playtime and then get back to work.

  • For the following commands, you'll need your dog to be collared and leashed. Collars come in a variety of designs and materials, but a simple nylon one is fine, as long as it isn't slipping off or causing your dog's face to turn blue. If you use a choke chain, make sure it isn't made of chain link, as they can catch accidentally and choke your dog.

Sit

The sit command is possibly the easiest command of them all:

  1. Start by facing your dog with treat in hand.

  2. Show him the treat and as he trots over, raise it up and over his head. In a desperate attempt to keep his eyes on the food, your dog will be forced to sit down.

  3. Say,"SIT"(remember-Connery voice) as soon as your dog starts to do so.

  4. Then reward him with the treat.

  5. If your dog won't sit for the food, kneel down next to him, hold his collar in one hand, and push his rear end gently but firmly down until his rump touches the ground while saying, "SIT." Then reward your dog with pats, ecstatic cheering, a party, or whatever else gets your dog's tail thumping.

  6. Repeat this exercise until your dog sits following the verbal command alone.

  7. Always use the same motion of raising your hand way over your dog's head while saying "sit." This will teach your dog to also associate the hand movement with the command.

  8. Start doing without the treat occasionally (but still the praise) until he no longer needs the treat.

Down

To get your dog to lie down, he must first have mastered the sit command:

  1. After telling him to sit, hold your dog by his collar, stick the treat right in front of his nose, and move it downward slowly.

  2. Your dog's accursed love of food will leave him no choice but to follow the treat down into submission as his restrained collar keeps him from frantically lunging at the treat.

  3. Say, "DOWN" as he begins his descent and reward him only when he is lying fully on the ground.

  4. If your dog's will power is stronger than his appetite, kneel down next to your sitting dog, gently pick up his forelegs with both hands and arms, and lower him into a lying position while saying, "DOWN." By pulling his forelegs out, he'll be forced to slide down.

  5. Thenrewardhim.

  6. Start doing without the treat occasionally (but still the praise) until he no longer needs the treat.

Come

This useful command will get your dog to stop doing just about anything and come to you:

  1. In the early stages of training, never tell your dog to come over to you for an unpleasant reason (he will associate "come" with negativity and be hesitant to do so).

  2. Start by standing a short distance away from your dog with food or a favorite toy in hand.

  3. Call out your dog's name and as his eyes zero in on the treat and he starts to walk towards you, say, "COME."

  4. When your dog reaches you,respond by doing a jig in celebration of his sheer genius and giving him a treat.

  5. As always, repeat this command until he is willing to come to you even if all you have to offer are your arms and the jig.

During the weeks when you're training your dog to do any of these tricks, if he does an action without your prompting (like if he just happens to walk over to you and sit down), go nuts over his great accomplishment, even though you didn't ask him to do it. Make a big fuss and gush, "GOOD SPARKY! SIT, SIT! Good boy!" At first, your bewildering actions will confuse your dog and possibly make him fret over your mental state. But because his major goal in life is to please you, he will soon plant his furry butt on the ground (or whatever it is you want them to do), just to get that wonderfully exciting reaction out of you again.

Any time a training session isn't going well switch to repeating a trick that your dog has already mastered, reward him for following your command properly, and end the session.



Teach your dog some fancy tricks


Let's face it: with commands like "sit" and "come" under your dog's belt, you can take him out in public, but dog food commercial directors aren't pounding down your door. You want a dog that raises eyebrows, attracts comely (human) members of the opposite sex, and pays your bills. While all of these things may not actually happen, we can help you teach your dog a few more fun little tricks.

Shake

  1. Get your dog to sit first and hold his attention with a treat.

  2. Then pick up one of his front paws and hold it very loosely in your hand as you say, "SHAKE."

  3. Don't grab his paw or he'll get freaked out by the pressure and withdraw.

  4. Reward him immediately and repeat the exercise several times before giving him a chance to place his paw onto your open palm by himself.

  5. If he doesn't do it after a couple of seconds, pickup his paw for him,while saying, "SHAKE," and guide it into your hand.

  6. Eventually,he'llgettheidea.


Fetch

You'll need your dog on a long leash or clothesline for this trick:

  1. Catch his attention with his favorite toy and get him excited by waving it around before throwing it a short distance away from you.

  2. As he inevitably starts to run towards it, yell,"FETCH!"

  3. Once your dog picks up the object,don't walk towards him; wait until he comes to you.

  4. If he starts to wander off elsewhere, pick up the leash and gently pull him towards you.

  5. Pethimonhisbackandwaitforhimtodropthetoyonhisown.(Ifyoutry to grab it out of his mouth, he'll interpret it as a tug-of-war game.)

  6. Ifacoupleofhourshavegonebyandyou'restillwaitingforthetoytohitthe ground, present him with a tasty treat or another toy as an incentive.

  7. Then as soon as your dog drops the toy, pick it up and do it all over again.

Door

This is a great trick to teach your dog how to shut doors on his own:

  1. Situate your dog and yourself in a room where the door closes when pushed towards the doorjamb. (Make sure it isn't a swinging door.)

  2. Position the door to be only three inches open. Hold at re at up against the door, at the height of your dog's nose. Tell your dog to come. As he rushes over to claim his reward, lift the treat up and away just before he reaches it, so his nose bumps against the door and it gets pushed forward a little.

  3. As he comes in contact with the door, say,"DOOR,"then praise him. If he doesn't touch the door, don't reward him; just repeat the exercise until he accidentally does.

  4. Have him push the door further and further, until it actually shuts. With consistent practice and patience, he'll soon be slamming doors shut right and left.


Last note: PATIENCE is the key to success. Good luck.

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