The 7 Most Important Dog Training Skills

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3. Stay

Teaching your dog to “stay” isn’t only about getting them to sit still. Like “come,” it’s a command that can keep her safe from harm.

training-stay

Build on your dog’s “stay” skills with the Three D’s of training:

  • Distance
  • Duration
  • Distraction

Start up close to your dog, placing her in a sit or down position. Hold a hand out toward and say “stay.” After a moment, reward her. Repeat this until your dog gets the idea that she’ll get a treat if she holds her sit or down position.

Over several training sessions, increase your distance from your dog and the duration before you release her, and introduce distractions to test her resolve. Visit this puppy training guide for more detailed instructions.

Remember the three D’s of training: distance, duration, and distraction

4. Leave It

The “leave it” command is another essential for keeping your dog safe, whether from something they might pick up and swallow or another dog growling at them from across the street. It’s also a skill that takes time and consistency to master, so be sure to take it in gradual steps, building on the three D’s mentioned above.

To teach “leave it,” start with a treat in hand and your dog in a sit or down position:

  • Show your dog the treat, say “leave it,” then place it under your shoe.
  • Wait. Your dog will try to get the treat — sniffing, licking, even pawing at your foot. Let her try. When she eventually gives up, immediately say “yes!” and give her a treat from your hand (not the one still under your shoe!)
  • Repeat. Your dog may go back to sniffing around your foot; as soon as she stops and looks away, mark the desired behavior with “yes” or a click, and reward.

Once your dog has mastered the art of ignoring a hidden treat, you can work up to a treat in plain view, and eventually “leaving” more compelling distractions. Then, put the training in motion by asking her to walk past and “leave” other the floor. See this article from trainer Shoshi Parks for detailed instructions.

5. Sit

Useful in so many situations, “sit” is often the first command dogs learn. In fact, most dogs “sit” on their own, so all you have to do is connect the command to the behavior.

First, while your dog is in a standing position, hold a treat in front of her nose and raise it slowly towards the back of her head. When her head follows the treat up, her butt will go down. Once her butt hits the floor, say “yes!” and give her the treat.

Once your dog is sitting reliably with the treat lure, you can transition to a hand signal and verbal command. View the above video from the AKC for a clear explanation of the whole process.

Most dogs ‘sit’ on their own, so all you have to do is connect the command to the behavior

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