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DOG TRAINING AT HOME: FOUR CUES YOU CAN TEACH YOUR PET

A well-trained dog is a happy dog. Dog training at home can begin with teaching basic cues and building on positive results. Teach these four basic cues:

  1. Come
    This is arguably the most critical training cue to teach your dog. Also known as recall, "come" tells your dog to return to you. If your dog were to slip out of his collar near a busy street, "come" could be a lifesaver.

    Training tip: Have a partner hold your dog’s leash while you get a treat ready. Then, using the treat as a magnet, hold it close to your dog’s nose, turn and rapidly walk away from your dog. Excitedly call your dog using a rapidly repeating noise like "pup pup," clap, whistle, smooch or click. When your dog follows you, say "yes" and urge him on with "good puppy/ boy/ girl!" Stop and crouch as your dog arrives to you and let the treat and praise begin. Repeat this exercise several times. When it seems that your dog is catching on, say "come" before you call him and gradually increase the distance between you and your dog each time.

  2. Sit
    The ability to sit on cue is the hallmark of a polite, well-mannered dog. This cue is especially useful when greeting guests.

    Training tip: Start with your dog facing you. Place a dog treat in the upward facing, open palm of your hand an inch or so above your dog’s nose. Then, slowly slide your hand toward the top of your dog’s head and lure him to follow the treat. Your dog will likely try to keep your hand in sight and lower his bottom to the floor. As soon as this happens, praise heartily and give your dog the treat. Repeat. When it seems that your dog is catching on, say "sit" before you lure him and say "yes" accompanied with a treat as soon as your dog sits.

  3. Down
    Asking your dog to go into a down position can help him settle down in situations when he is highly excited.

    Training tip: Ask your dog to "sit" and hold a treat between your thumb and forefinger with the palm of your hand facing down. Hover the treat directly in front of your dog’s nose. Slowly lower the treat between his front paws, luring his nose and head down towards the ground. Then, if needed, drag the treat slowly along the ground toward you. Your dog should follow the treat with his nose, causing him to lie down on his belly. As soon as his elbows hit the ground, say "yes" and give him the treat, along with lots of praise.

    Repeat and when it seems that your dog is catching on, say "down" before you lure him and say "yes" accompanied with a treat as soon as your dog lies down.

  4. Stay
    "Stay" can help your dog avoid potentially hazardous situations. Plus, it’s great for keeping your dog in a prolonged "sit" or "down" position.

    Training tip: Start by asking your dog to sit or lie down. Hold up one hand with your palm facing your dog, hold a treat in the opposite hand. Treat your dog while the dog is in the "stay". Do this while standing very close to your dog. Do not make any other movements or create any distractions. Praise your dog while he is in "stay". Release your dog from "stay," using a word like "okay" or "thank you" and take a step back. Don’t reward for the release. Repeat this several times, adding the word "stay". Increase the distance, time and distractions little by little as your dog progresses.

Looking for tips from the pros? Attend one of our FREE dog training workshops or schedule one of our dog training classes. Find a dog training class near you >