Basic Obedience Tips
New puppies are like little sponges. They are always learning. Make sure that we are supplying all the positive reinforcement in life – food, toys, games, interaction, attention, freedom, walks. Every interaction is a training opportunity! (Remember, your dog is learning all the time – What are you teaching him now?)For training find out what Motivates your puppy and use that to reinforce the behaviors that your like your puppy. Here are some things that are use to motivate your new puppy:
- Food: To jumpstart training, use his kibble as training pieces and take away the food bowl for a few days.
- Toys: Ask your dog to do a desirable behavior and reward by playing fetch, tug or another game.
- Games: You initiate the games after the dog give a behavior you like: Hide & Seek (people, toys & treats), Fetch, Tug of War
Teaching the command to “Sit”:
- Hold the treat in between your thumb and middle finger.
- Now put the back of your fingers up to the dog’s nose so he can smell the treat
- Once the puppy is interested in the treat then slowly raise the treat above the pups head.
- The dog should be following the smell so his head goes up as well, once his head goes up, his rear end should go down.
- As soon as the dogs rear hits the floor, Tell your pup “Good puppy” and reward with the treat. repeat steps 1-4 multiple times.
- Once you feel you feel like your puppy understands what you are asking them, try using your hand signal (hand in shape as if treat is there) but with no treat.
- Again, bring your hand close to the dogs nose (No treat in hand) & raise up. Once he sits, say “good puppy” and reward with treat (from pocket or bag).
- It may take a few hand signal tries to get the dog to sit with no treat in your hand. Be patient, the dog will figure it out.
- Soon the dog will understand that the hand signal means he should sit if he wants a “good puppy” & treat.
- Adding the word “Sit”
- Too teach the word “sit”, make sure the dog first fully understands the hand signal (we don’t want dogs ignoring our words).
- Once the dog is ready for the word addition, first say the word “sit”, wait 1 second, then follow with your hand signal. Soon the dog will know that the hand signal follows the word and you won’t need to follow up with the signal.
- Always reward successful sits with a treat or praise or petting. (Treats work best at first to teach a behavior fast).
Teaching the command to lay “Down”
- With treat in hand, put hand on ground while holding treat under hand (same way you hold it for sit, but palm facing floor).
- When dog bends down slowly move hand in towards dog’s chest (NOT away from dog).
- As soon as dogs rear hits the ground, “Good Puppy” & reward (even if dog gets up right away).(Remember you are rewarding small steps towards down now – head moving down, legs bending, etc.)
- You can gradually move your hand further up off the ground for the hand signal – go at a pace that your dog is still succeeding.
- Once your dog is laying down easily, reward them for continuing to lay down (if they stay down after the first treat).
- When you are 90% sure your dog will go down with your hand signal, add the word. First say “down”, wait 1 second, then hand signal.
“Wait” – Patience for Desired Objects
- Show the dog the treat and keep it in front of him as if you are giving it to him. Say “Wait”, one time only!
- When dog reaches for, sniffs towards, or lunges at the treat, pull your hand up so the treat goes away.
- Slowly move the treat back towards the dog’s nose but DO NOT repeat the “Wait” command.
- As soon as the treat is in the desired position (your “stopping point”) and the dog doesn’t go for it, “Good Puppy” and give him the treat. (Dog may look at you, at the floor, at the treat – he just can’t go for the treat.)
- Now start again, each time raising your criteria for distance or time not going for the treat. Say “Wait” and move treat towards dog. (If at any time the dog goes for the treat, pull the treat away.)
- Wait one second then try again without repeating your command – remember, one command per one reward.
- Slowly work up to longer times of not going for the treat and closer distances to the dog’s nose.
- Practice with food, treats and toys!
“Come” – Name Game
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT COMAND YOU WILL EVER TEACH YOUR DOG
- Always reward your dog for coming to you – even if you made them do it, and even if it took them 10 minutes to finally get to you and you are very irritated, act like it is the greatest thing they ever did – and REWARD!!
- Never say “come” if your dog might ignore it and may not come to you, such as if he is sniffing outside and you cannot be more interesting (with treats or toys or attention) than the current distraction. Remember: If you use the command and your dog does not come, you are teaching him that the word is not that important and that he doesn’t always have to come.
- Do not expect your dog to come to you in very distracting situations (such as at a park) unless you have had months and months of good practice.
- Practice “pass the dog” in the house then outside on a long-line. Say dog’s name & “come” only once, then be more exciting than your dog’s surroundings to get him to come to you: use treats, toys, noises, running, etc.
- To practice, say the dog’s name once, say the command once (come!). If the dog comes to you, click, grab them and reward.
- If the dog does not come to you, the next step is to be exciting. Make kissy noises, stomp your feet, bend down low. If that works, and the dog comes to you, click, and reward.
- If it does not work, reel them in to you using your leash or long line
Do not practice come when called unless the dog is on leash or long line or you really, really trust that they will do it.
You will need 2 people for this game and a very hungry puppy!
- Person 1 should get the puppy interested in a treat and back up saying ” INSERT PUPPIES NAME HERE Come!” Person 2 should hold the puppy back and let the puppy get excited and try to get to person 1 before letting the puppy go.
- As the puppy gets to person 1, they should reward and then grab the puppy while person 2 comes up to get the puppy interested in a treat and back up saying ” INSERT PUPPIES NAME HERE Come!” while Person 1 Holds the puppy back til they are trying to get to Person 2, then let go!
- Practice this a couple of times until you feel like your puppy understands the concept. Once the puppy understands you won’t have to hold the puppy back.
- Now the the puppy understands have fun moving around the yard calling you puppy back and forth between Person 1 and Person 2. REWARD EVERY TIME!
- Add a twist by hiding from your puppy around corners or behind trees! Have lots of fun!
Weaning off Treats
- Get the treat out of your hand, stop using a lure as soon as possible and start shaping behavior – use only the hand signal now.
- Combine tricks (sit, stay, come – then treat or doggy push ups for examples) & be a slot machine: Use random rewards: don’t be predictable (sometimes reward every 2 commands, then every 5, then every 3, etc.)
- Don’t bring treats out before command, give command, click, then go get the treat (from counter or even another room)
- Be random again (use slot machine here too now): dog doesn’t know if he will be rewarded or not, maybe you’ll go get a treat, maybe you won’t – he will expect that he will sometimes get a treat, you should follow through with that expectation.
** Try not to ever get rid of treats completely, no one wants to work without a paycheck – even if it is a random one.