While most people couldn’t imagine a life without their furry family member, we often wish that our dogs would listen when spoken to. Obedience training is one of the most important aspects of raising a dog. In fact, a well-trained dog is by far a happier dog! Why? Because a trained dog requires fewer restrictions, giving them more freedom and trust with their humans. Training our dogs to act on command means more than showing off at the local dog park. It strengthens your bond and develops communication skills that that most could only dream off.
Training basic commands significantly reduces unwanted behavior and allows you to stop any that may arise. It gives your pet a “job”, making them feel important while providing stimulation for their brain. Some feel as if their beloved dog is too old for new tricks or too stubborn to learn. If we do not take the time to train our dogs and educate ourselves we will both be frustrated and not nearly as happy as we could be. Here are the basic commands every dog should know in order to live happily among us.
Starting off the easiest, sit is by far the most important command because it will be the building block to training all the others. Sit is a valuable asset to any owner because it forces the dog to focus on you and puts you in control. Whether you are in an elevator, greeting a guest, crossing the street or putting down a full food bowl, having the dog sit relaxes both your dog and everyone around you.
One of the best ways to implement this command in your daily routine and establishing yourself as a leader is meal time. Having the dog sit and wait for permission to eat, means they have to follow two commands. This not only builds discipline but shows the dog that you’re in control of the food source.
Teaching Your Dog To: Sit
Command: Drop It
If you value anything around your home, “drop it” is the command that will save your fancy new shoes from getting annihilated. Teaching this command will not only save you money in the long run but prevent your pup from chewing on something that can potentially harm them such as batteries or an oily rag. We’ve all seen the dog that bites on their leash and plays tug of war with their complaining owner. Knowing this command can save your pets life and save you from embarrassing yourself. The idea behind this training method is to basically offer your dog a trade; let go of the object in your mouth and something good will happen.
Teaching Your Dog To: Drop It
Training this command will test both your patience and creativity. “Stay”, is by far one of the most difficult commands to train but can prove to be quite useful in daily applications. At times your dog will spot something in the distance that they would like to eat or begin to run off into the woods. Stay allows you to stop the dog from running into the house with their muddy paws, or jumping out of the car when opening the door in a busy parking lot. It allows you to walk through doorways first, further establishing yourself as the boss. The biggest mistake people make when teaching stay is rewarding at the wrong time, teaching the dog to break that position rather than hold it. For example, if you ask your dog to “stay” walk away and call him to you, you’re actually teaching him to break the position you just asked him to hold. Teaching this command can be lifesaving.
Teaching Your Dog To: Stay
Your friend invites you and the dog to visit their home. The minute you arrive to the premises, your dog begins to jump on every couch/bed in sight. Filled with embarrassment, you command the dog to get off the couch but all you get is a smirk. One of the biggest mistakes people make when teaching this command is confusing the commands “off” with “down”. In the heat of the moment we can blur out the wrong words and now your dog is lying down comfortably because the owner said its okay. Furthermore, we worsen the situation by yelling at the comfortable dog, confusing him and everything that he has learned in the past. “Off” allows you to cut access to one part of the home. For example Sasha, my German Shepherd, is allows on the bed but never on the couch.
Teaching Your Dog: Off
If you’re planning to turn your pooch into a service dog, mastering “down” is extremely important. People nowadays love to point fingers at dogs that can’t seem to stay still inside the local cafe or inside the airport. Down is a powerful relaxing toll to keep your dog calm down in certain situations. If you can teach him to lie or sit down at a distance, you can keep your pet safe if they run off across a busy street. It’s a fantastic tool to keep non-dog people calm in a busy location. Teaching this command is a little harder than sit, but can also be sued as a foundation for all other commands.
Teaching Your Dog : Down
With years of dog park experience, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen dogs run to the gate as an alpha approaches with clean signs of aggression. You’ll hear every owner in the park shout their pets name, begging for them to come away from the gate with no answer. Teaching the “come” command is not only a great obedience exercise but a safety protocol. Dogs love to run off after something and if you can’t get them to come back, he or she might end up as road kill. It allows you to walk your dog off leash with confidence knowing that you can avoid any potential dangers ahead or even losing your pet. Remember to use an extremely good motivator when rewarding during this training.
Teaching Your Dog To: Come
Command: Leave It
Leave it, is one of the most essential tools in your command arsenal that will save you countless trips to the vet. Sasha, my German Shepherd, has eaten old bones, dead birds, food, and countless other items that caused her to get critically ill. Not only was this incredibly annoying but quite expensive. You may drop a harmful chemical in the garage or spill bleach while cleaning the house, without proper training the dog has already drank some.
Teaching Your Dog To: Leave It
When adopting a new puppy or an older dog, owners should invest heavily into teaching these critical commands in order to have a obedient and friendly companion. Non-dog people respect the ones that follow orders. It provides mental stimulation which helps to keep your dog happy, and if combined with morning exercise your dog will be mentally and physically tired at the end and far more likely to sleep during the day. Trained dogs spare their owners countless headaches and in return, they get to roam around freely without being confined to a crate or strapped to a leash during hikes. Keep in mind that training should be consistent and while they may not be able to roll over or fetch you a beer, they will respect you more and live in harmony with society. Stay tuned for our next blog where we go over how you can implement these training techniques in your day to day life no matter how busy your schedule.