Did you know training is one of the most important things you can do for your dog’s safety and well being? Aside from the fact that too many dogs end up in shelters because of behavioral issues, a well-trained dog knows the rules and knows who’s establishing them (that’s you, of course). This helps build a bond between you and your dog.
There are many things you can and should teach your dog and there are lots of programs, individual trainers and information out there that can help. And, while all dogs needs are unique, here are 5 important areas you should consider starting with.
It may surprise you, but dogs aren’t born with the ability to walk nicely on a leash! In fact, they’re really more inclined to meander around, sniffing everything they desire. Walking on a leash next to you is actually kind of a drag. Luckily, you can develop a way that you both get what you want. Your pup gets plenty of sniff time and you get a dog who doesn’t pull your arm off or tangle up the leash when you’re strolling around the block. Take the time to teach your dog proper leash manners and the benefits will last throughout your dog’s life.
“Come” is a very important command to keep your dog, as well as other dogs, animals and people, safe. As a dog’s owner, your job is to be keeping your beloved pooch out of harm’s way. Whether it’s calling him back from a precarious encounter or just calling him for dinner, teaching great recall is one of the best things you can do for your dog at any age.
“Sit” is a relatively easy command to teach and is a great building block for other training. This is often one of the first commands a puppy or dog learns and, for first time dog owners, a badge of honor. “Sit” is a great way to have your dog stop and pause or interrupt him from doing something he shouldn’t. It’s also a great command to use in conjunction with other, more challenging commands down the road.
“Stay” requires a bit more patience with your dog than sit does but many dogs often get it pretty quickly. Teaching your dog or puppy to stay in one spot until you “release” him (usually with another verbal command or hand signal) offers your pup great self control to add to his training tool kit!
“Leave it!” is another great command for your dog’s safety and well-being, not to mention your own peace of mind. “Leave it” can be used for basically any situation when you want your pup to leave whatever it is he’s pursuing alone. He could be sniffing at something gross on the sidewalk or chasing a squirrel, but “Leave it!” tells him to stop going after it. This can be challenging to teach as usually that object is so enticing.
There are so many resources to help you with training – from videos by Certified Professional Dog Trainers to one on one or group sessions in person. The important thing to remember is patience and consistency. And, of course, lots and lots of positive reinforcement and rewards in the form of treats, toys or something else your dog loves.