Using Basic Dog Training Commands for
Teaching basic dog training commands should be an integral part of being a responsible dog owner. Dogs require a certain amount of structure and discipline in order to thrive and become enjoyable pets to be around.
This is why training is paramount to the dog's well being as it sets a foundation for a happy, and enriching bond between dog and owner.
Make sure you set aside brief 10 to 15 minutes each day to train your dog: you will both benefit greatly from these sessions which will significantly deepen your relationship.
Methods for Teaching Basic Dog Training Commands
There are several schools of thought when it comes to dog training, but one school in particular has been gaining popularity over the years.
Compulsion and domination training techniques are luckily fading away, being replaced by the rewarding world of positive reinforcement training. Based on scientifically approved principles, positive reinforcement training aims to reward desirable behaviors whereas, unwanted behaviors are managed or ignored.
Being opportunistic, dogs will likely repeat behaviors that are rewarded, while unrewarded behaviors will start to fade, and eventually, extinguish. However, rewarding the good and ignoring the bad does not portray the whole picture. There are many considerations to keep in mind when training your dog commands and failure to recognize them, may potentially put a dent in your training.
Let's go over some important considerations when training basic dog training commands.
Considerations about Repeating Commands
One of the main problems dog owners encounter when delivering basic dog training commands is the "broken-record" syndrome. Imagine playing an old album by the "The Verve" when the "Sit and Wonder" song starts skipping "sit, sit, sit, sit". A very boring and almost nerve-wrecking experience!
In a dog's ears a similar experience may happen when an owner repeats a command over and over. Worst of all, the command starts becoming quite irrelevant and it comes as no surprise why the dog may at some point even decide to not pay attention anymore!
The golden rule in delivering basic dog training commands is to give a command only once.
If you give the command twice, the dog learns that the first command can be ignored, and the second one is what really counts, especially if you say the second command in a louder tone of voice. The "sit" command has therefore transformed into "sit, sit", or "sit, sit, sit" in worst circumstances. Try your best to not fall into this trap!
Considerations about Tone of Voice
Humans are predisposed to using a firmer, louder tone of voice when a word or sentence did not come through. Just imagine dealing with a person of a different nationality that cannot understand a word of what you are saying: very likely you will repeat in a louder tone of voice as if the tone would magically make your message clearer!
Truth is, while the voice and tone that you use are important, you will not make the command clearer to your dog if your dog does not yet understand what it means. This is why commands are named only after the dog understands and performs the behavior reliably.
If using louder tones is not enough, some dog owners even resort to screaming at their dog. This is very counterproductive for many reasons.
First, many dogs will feel intimidated by this and scaring your canine companion will defeat the purpose of training which is to form a strong, trusting bond.
Second, if your dog is intimidated by your tone of voice, he or she will close up, exhibiting submissive body language and stress such as licking its lips, yawning or even rolling belly-up. Stress and fear inhibit learning which instead requires confidence and initiative.
In general, use low and deep voice when disciplining or correcting your dog and more lively tone when praising.
Considerations about Choosing Commands
When a command is chosen, it is imperative that all family members stay on the same page. If uncle Matt uses the command "stay" and aunt Elda uses the command "wait" Rover will get confused. Choose your commands wisely and use the same command consistently.
A common cliché is the dog owner who uses the command "down" to tell the dog to stop jumping, but also "down" to tell the dog to get off the couch, and then again "down" to tell the dog to lay down, very confusing!
Basic Commands All Dogs Should Know
All well-mannered dogs should be familiar with at least 5 very important basic dog training commands: sit, down, stay, heel and come. Teach these commands in 10 to 15 minute sessions about 3 to 5 times a day. Short, frequents sessions are better than long tedious ones so to keep your dog's interest alive.
Following is a brief overview of basic dog training commands. You may choose to give verbal praise or use a dog clicker when the dog performs the wanted behavior.
Sit: How to Train It
Sit is basically a stationary position where the dog has all 4 paws on the ground.
To train it, hold one bite-sized dog training treat and move it from your dog's nose towards its head. Praise or click if you are using a clicker the moment your dog's rear touches the floor and immediately deliver the treat. Training your dog to sit provides detailed instructions on using this command.
Down: How to Train It
Down is another stationary position where the dog is laying down on the floor.
Train it by asking your dog to sit and bringing a treat near your dog's nose. As if designing an imaginary "L", move the treat downward from the nose to between the front paws. Bring the treat outward praising or clicking when the elbows touch the ground and the dog lays down. Immediately deliver the treat.
Stay: How to Train It
Stay is a stationary position where the dog stays still as if frozen until released.
Train it by asking your dog to sit or lay down. Count 2 seconds and praise or click to reward your dog for staying into position and immediately deliver the treat while still in position. Release your dog using your release command. Visit training your dog to stay to learn more about training your puppy to follow this command.
Come: How to Train It
Come is a command where your dog comes to you when called.
Train it by stepping a few feet away from your dog. Then, call your dog's name followed by the cue "come" as you walk quickly backwards. Praise or click the moment your dog starts coming your way. Deliver a treat immediately upon catching up with you. Visit training your dog to come for additional information and training instructions.
Heel: How to Train It
Heel is a command where your dog walks besides you with its shoulder in line with your left knee.
Train it with your dog on leash. Start by taking a step with your left leg first and walking while encouraging your dog to follow. When your dog is right next to you, with its shoulder lined up with your left knee, click or praise and deliver a treat.
Benefits of Using Dog Commands
As seen, teaching basic dog training commands encompasses much more than simply teaching a dog new skills and new behaviors.
Once basic dog commands are in place, you will soon notice how life will be much easier for you and your dog. Your dog may be welcomed in places you never thought he could be taken to before, and if you aim high, you can even turn him into a therapy dog or enroll him in dog sports and competitions.
Best of all, by training basic dog training commands your dog will be better under control and a joy to have around, a win-win situation for all!
Here is a brief video that talks about some of the things we just covered in this article...
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Want to learn more?
If you need help with teaching your dog obedience commands or just trying to understand dog behavior, I recommend this dog behavior and obedience training guide.
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