Let’s face it, training a dog is hard.  It requires a lot of repetition.  If you’re anything like me, most of the time your dog does that cute head tilt thing and all plans of training go right out the window.  Ivy, our one-year-old Golden Retriever is adorable, but she would not be an “A” student in obedience school.  Even the most pampered pets could benefit from learning a few basic commands.  A dog that can sit and stay on command is ultimately safer when in public.  But how do we not fall for the cuteness and teach them the important basics?

Golden Retriever Sitting

Sit is the most basic and perhaps the most important command.  It is useful because a dog that is sitting is unable to misbehave in most ways.  When your dog is sitting, furthermore, it cannot run out into traffic.  It is a great command to use on walks when you need to stop momentarily.  To teach a dog to sit, place a treat in front of his or her nose.  Then slowly move the treat over the dog’s head.  This will cause the dog to sit.  Once they are sitting, give the dog the treat.  Repeat this process several times.  Say “good” or “yes” as verbal recognition of their behavior.  Later, give the dog the hand signal with an empty hand.    Then give the dog the treat you were hiding behind your back.  After he or she responds to the hand signal several times, you can bring in the word “sit”.  Dogs are more attuned to hand gestures, so we must show before telling them.

Dog showing "Down"

Down is another important command.  If your dogs stay laying down when company comes ever, you basically deserve an award for pet parent of the year.  Down is also a great calming command.  An overstimulated dog who can be taught “down” can calm down easier.  To teach your dog to lay down, start with them in “sit”.  Then hold a treat over their nose.  Bring the treat down their body slowly and then out toward you.  It should look like you’re drawing an uppercase “L” in the air.  When the dog is down, reward him or her with the treat and say “good”.  Repeat this process.  Next you can give the “L” hand signal with an empty hand, hiding a treat in the other hand.  Once the dog is down, reward with the treat.  Then the cue word can be used.  Repeat this process gradually straightening your spine.  While still bent over, you can replace the hand signal with something simpler like pointing down.

Puppy Chewing on Toilet Paper Roll

“Drop it” will be a useful command for most dog owners.  Dogs investigate the world with their mouths.  My Ivy likes to pick up a cicada or a frog in her mouth and run around while we chase her.  Our theory is that the buzzing sound the cicada makes in her mouth is entertaining.  To teach “drop it”, start with something the pet is allowed.  Give the pet the object.  Present the dog with a treat.  Once the dog drops it for a treat, say “good”.  Give the dog the toy again to repeat this process.  Start with a toy that is not the dog’s favorite.  Then gradually use toys that they find more irresistible.  Once the dog starts to understand, choose a cue word such as “drop”.  Use several different objects.

Training a dog is a time-consuming and often stressful process.  It is also rewarding.  Training sessions are a great opportunity to bond.  Proper training could also save your dog’s life one day.  In an unpredictable world, we need our dogs to be attentive and responsive.  Remember to keep training fun.  A happy dog is a dog that will enjoy learning.  Fur Services Fur Pets wishes you the best of luck training your furry friends.