Dog training: 5 commands you’ll want your pup to know

January is National Train Your Dog Month. So we decided to take a look at dog training, which can be a hugely enjoyable and rewarding experience for both dog and pet parent alike. Having a dog that responds to specific commands can make life with a dog even more enjoyable.  Some of these commands are particularly useful when you go out on adventures with your pup and can even help to ensure their security in certain situations. Read on to find out about 5 basic commands that can help make life with your dog even better:

  1. Sit – this tends to be one of the easier commands to teach your dog.  Hold a treat above your dog’s nose and raise your hand upwards. Then gently ease the rear of the dog to sitting position and say “sit” at the same time. Repeating this regularly gets the dog used to the command and he will soon respond to the command and the hand signal without a treat needed.
  2. Stay – teaching this command is very important to develop self-control in your dog. You first need to use the sit command. When your dog is in the sitting position, you raise the palm of your hand in front of you and say “stay” at the same time.  You then take a step backwards. If your dog stays sitting, praise that behavior. Gradually increase the number of steps backwards that you take. You should get to the point where the dog stays in a sitting position until you call him to come to you.
  3. Down – Hold a treat in your closed fist and let the dog smell it. Then move your hand down to the floor and say the word “down” Your dog should follow the treat down to the floor so that he is lying with his stomach on the ground.  Again, praise this behavior and repeat it regularly so that the dog gets used to the verbal command and responds without requiring a treat. 
  4. Heel – This command teaches your dog to walk at your side, rather than pulling in front of you.  Put a leash on your dog and hold it in your right hand with the dog walking at your left hand side. As you start to walk forward, use the word “heel”. Use a squeaky toy and squeak the toy above the dog’s head so that the dog looks up as he is walking and is positioned slightly behind you.  Praise him when he walks in the correct position. 
  5. Leave it – A particularly helpful command if your dog tends to pick up random things from the ground when you are out on a walk. Put a treat in both hands and show the dog one of your closed fists and say “leave it”. When the dog stops trying to get at the treat,  praise him by giving him the treat from the other hand. The next time you do this, wait until the dog has fully moved away from your closed fist before rewarding him.