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5 Commands Your Dog Should Know

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Training your dog to obey simple commands may seem like a daunting task (especially if you have no previous experience), but it doesn’t have to be. Just like anything else, it just takes practice, persistence, and patience. To get started on your way to having a well behaved canine, here are 5 essential commands to master with your dog and instructions for training. (If you have not yet read the “Rules For Training Your Dog” article, it is recommended that you read it before attempting the exercises below.) 

1. Command: “Leave It” What it does: This command teaches the dog to back away from an object.
Goal For This Exercise: No sniffing the ground while training & leaving things alone when told.  

How To Train:
Put a few pieces of food on floor and let dog approach. As he starts to smell the food, tell him “leave it”, hesitate (count 1–2 to yourself), then give a correction while backing away from the food. 
Praise your dog when he is away from the food. 
Repeat several times until your dog decides not to investigate the food. Food from your hand is okay when he is told he can have it, but anything on the ground is off limits unless told otherwise. 
This can apply to any item you do not want the dog to have. Train the item just like the food so that he understands that item will get him in trouble, best to leave it alone!   Proofing Ideas: Food on tables and counters, garbage pail, houseplants, small children, the cat, etc.


2. Command: “Dog Responds to Name” What it does: This command teaches your dog two important things:
Goal For This Exercise: Get back to you when you call his name regardless of what he sees, hears, or smells. 
Not to pull or forge ahead while on a leash. Goal For This Exercise: Your dog should respond to his name under distractions and should want to stay closer to your side/not wander as much.

How To Train: 
Put your dog on a 6 ft. leash and let him wander ahead of you. 
While he is distracted, call his name hesitate (count 1–2 to yourself), pop the leash (a correction), move backwards, and praise him as he is coming to you. 
Back up about 6 to 8 paces, stop, give your dog a piece of food, and praise when he catches up to you. 
Tell him OK and let him get distracted again. Repeat the above steps. 
Continue this until your dog no longer distracts himself but stays near you. 
Now it’s time to add tougher or different distractions. While he is checking out the new interests – call his name, pop the leash, and move backwards. Praise when he reaches you. I like to call this “beat the jerk”. Your dog learns to come when he hears his name. 
If you see him turn away from the distraction and come towards you as soon as he hears his name, you do not have to correct. Instead, just move backwards a few steps and praise. He did not get the leash correction and therefore “beat the jerk”. 
Proofing Ideas: Have someone call his name, roll a ball, squeak a toy, hold out a piece of food or have another dog on leash to distract him. Think of your own proofs. Anything your dog locks in on can be used to proof him.


3. Command: “Easy” What it does: This command keeps the dog from pulling on his leash.
Goal For This Exercise: The dog should not pull on the leash at any time.

How To Train: 
Play The Tree Game -  Begin with your dog on proper training collar and 6 foot leash.  You stand still, like a tree, with both hands through loop of the  handle on leash and hold on to leash. Hold hands waist high. As dog gets to end of leash and leash tightens, say EASY (count to yourself 1,2) then pop/jerk the leash for a correction.Praise when there is slack in the leash.  How much to correct? See Rules for Training Your Dog.   Repeat until dog does not want to tighten leash. Dog does not have to be by your side or on any command - like sit, down, stay - just make sure dog keeps slack in the leash. Now add distractions so dog understands no matter what happens, do not pull on leash.  Have a friend or family member position themselves 4or 5 feet PAST the end of the leash. You are still a tree but person helping can move around, but does not make physical contact with dog, and stays past the end of leash.  Have person clap hands, whistle, make noise(do NOT use dogs name as a distraction) to encourage dog to go toward them.  You say EASY (count to yourself 1,2) then pop/jerk leash if dog tightens leash. Repeat until dog keeps slack in the leash and does not want to go toward distraction. Praise when there is slack in the leash. Now you are ready to go for a walk.
The command EASY applies regardless of whether you’re walking or standing still and the dog is on leash.  


4. Command: “Off" What it does: This command teaches the dog not to jump on people or objects.
Goal of this Exercise: The dog should not jump on people or objects without permission.

How To Train:
Put your dog on leash and hold it about 18 to 24 inches down from the leash snap (your correction will be to the side and slightly down with your left hand). 
Now really entice your dog to jump on you. Use a very excited voice and pat your legs with your hands to get the dog to jump on you. 
When your dog jumps on you tell him “off”, hesitate (count 1–2 to yourself), pop the leash (a correction) and praise when the dog has all four paws on the ground. 
Repeat until your dog thinks that jumping on you is not so much fun. 
Do this exercise 2 – 3 times a day for a week. A quick training session only takes about 5 – 8 minutes for a single command. Once a dog is trained, you can still have him jump on you, but only by invitation. 
Proofing Ideas: Have friends/family ring doorbell, come in and be ready to correct when your dog jumps. This means the dog has to be on a leash. Practice this, you do not have wait till it’s the real thing.


5. Command: “Wait” (at door)What it does: This command teaches the dog not to enter a doorway if told not to.
Goal of this Exercise: To get the dog to stop at a doorway if told to do so. The dog should not enter without permission.

How To Train:
With your dog on leash walk up to a door (it can be a door inside your home or a door going outside. A door going outside will probably be more challenging for you and your dog.) 
Your dog doesn’t have to be in a sitting position to do this exercise (if you haven’t proofed the sit, you will be fighting two problems at the same time, so just get your dog to be stable and not try get through the door ahead of you). 
Have your leash in your left hand with about 2 ft. of leash ready to correct the dog. 
Now crack the door slightly, if the dog starts to move toward the door give the command “wait”, hesitate (count 1 –2 to yourself), pop the leash (a correction), and make the dog put slack in the leash and become calm and stable. 
Keep opening and closing the door until your dog can wait calmly by your side. 
After your dog can wait at the door, start asking the dog to wait and as you walk back and forth through the door. The dog should wait until you say it’s ok to pass through the door. 

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