When teaching any new command, it’s important to have your dog’s full attention and to stop before you lose their attention completely. Think of it as you always want to keep them wanting more! If your dog runs away and goes to sniff around the yard during your training session, they are most likely over stimulated. This is especially true for puppies, which are usually always in a hyper, over stimulated state.Teaching “sit” or “down” requires patience, repetition, and reward. You can use a hand motion or word to communicate your commands. When your dog does sit or lies down, reward him with a treat immediately. Each time he repeats the behavior for you, reward with a treat. Always end your session with a success and do the exercise again later.
You can also use what is called “clicker” training, where you or a small device makes a “click” sound followed by a treat to acknowledge that the dog has done the desired behavior. The dog begins to associate the sound with a treat, and when they do something that gets a “click,” they want to keep doing it over and over again.
After you and your dog have mastered “sit”, you can move on to “stay”. Have your dog sit (praise when they comply) and give the desired stay command. This can be a hand motion or a word. Step a couple feet back from your dog, step back in, and reward with treat and a release command, encouraging them to move. Do NOT reward if the stay is broken, simply reposition them and try again. Slowly add distance between you and your dog as they get better at understanding the command. Dogs learn from repetition so continue this process 5-6 times as long as you still have their attention. Remember, always end with a success if you can and come back to it later if necessary.
Above all, practice patience, and don’t be too hard on yourself or your dog!
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