To successfully train your dog, you must be prepared to practice every day. Short and often is the best policy. Several five to ten minute sessions a day will give your dog plenty of time to build reliability, even around distractions. It is not realistic or effective to set aside hour long training sessions. This can make the process seem long and boring for your dog.
The “wait’ command is a fantastic command for your dog to learn. It will keep your dog from charging through doors or out of the car. Teach this command by making it a part of your everyday routine, which is the way I like to teach all commands. Your dog will learn without even realizing it.
Start by putting on the collar and leash on your dog. Approach a doorway, preferably the front or back door of your home. When you get to the door, give the command “wait” and open the door. Be prepared to put the dog back if he tries to charge through. Issue the “wait” command again but this time you should take a step through the door. Do not let the dog come through. If he tries, put him back and tell him to “wait.” Stand on the other side of the door, reminding him to wait. Do not let him come through until you give him the command that it’s now okay to proceed. Some suggestions for the proceed command are “Let’s Go,” “Go Ahead,” or “Free.” Pick a command and stick with it, using the same command every time.
Use these commands whenever you go through a door or get in and out of the car. Remember to practice and have lots of patience.
One of the most important aspects of training a dog is to remove the opportunity for the dog to make a mistake. If you issue a command, make sure you are able to enforce it. This is especially true with the “come” command. Many owners try to teach this command while the dog is off leash, which is a mistake. You cannot control what the dog does from there.
Start with your dog on his regular leash; a four or six foot one will do. As you walk, let your dog get slightly ahead of you. Stop walking; say “come.” If he doesn’t immediately come towards you, give him a little tug and reel him in. Make him sit in front facing you. Offer praise, love and affection. Treats may be used but sparingly; don’t rely solely on treats. Walk forward again, but this time when you say the command, back pedal slightly reeling the dog in until he is directly in front of you. Make him sit; give praise.
Repeat this over and over–dogs learn by repetition. Once your dog is responding quickly, switch to a long line, either a twenty to thirty foot leash. Let your dog roam a little. When he is at the end of the leash, step on it and say “come.”
Your dog should turn and come running. If he doesn’t, reach down and use the leash to reel him in, offering encouragement all the way. Make him sit and give him praise. Now he realizes he has to come no matter the distance.
Repeat these steps over and over, always making sure when you call your dog it has a positive end result. Never punish your dog after you told him to come. With practice and patience you will have a reliable “come” command.
Practice Makes Perfect
Be sure to maintain a good attitude. Your dog’s enthusiasm for learning depends on you. Never try to train if you are irritable. And remember: practice makes perfect.
From the Pet Tails Magazine archives; this article was written by Nicole Zarnoch, CCS of Cosmo’s Corner.