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Dog - Behavior & Training

Four Cues Every Dog Should Know

The following four dog cues will help you keep your dog safe, happy, and healthy and give you peace of mind!

  1. Come

    This is arguably the most critical 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, use 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 and 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 pup. 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 and 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 them settle down in situations where they are 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. However 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 dog treat in the opposite hand. Treat your dog while the dog is in the "stay". Do this standing very close to the dog with no movement and very little distraction. Praise the dog while in "stay". Release your dog from "stay," using a word like "ok" or "thank you" and take a step back. Don't reward for the release. Repeat this several times, adding the word "stay" and making sure to increase the distance, time and distractions little by little as your dog progresses.