Basic Obedience

Getting your pooch to sit, stay and come. (Good boy!)

Training your cuddly canine to respond to basic commands is all about three things – repetition, reinforcement and patience. By using these techniques, you and your dog are in for some grrrreat results.

Here’s how you would apply them to the most useful commands of them all: Sit, Stay and Come:

Sit.

Teaching your dog to sit on-command is one of your easiest training tasks, and one you’ll use a lot. Woof.

Start by grabbing a handful of treats to get Spot’s attention. Meanwhile, make sure he is calm – not hyperactive. Like your two-legged tykes, doggies aren’t too interested in learning if they really just want to play.

With your dog standing and facing you, hold a treat in front of his nose – not close enough for him to grab it, though. Then say, “[Snoopy], Sit”, in a firm voice, while slowly raising the treat horizontally up and away from you, as if to go over his head. It sounds strange, but if you raise the treat vertically, your pooch will jump. And we’d rather save that for Lassie reruns.

Your dog’s nose will attempt to follow the treat, and in response, his rear will go down. As soon as his rump hits the floor, give him the treat and say, “Sit, good boy”. Let your little Labrador get up, and then try it again.

Stay.

Once your dog knows how to ‘Sit’, ‘Stay’ is a walk in the park.

First, grab a handful of treats to get your furry friend’s attention. Using the steps above, get your dog to sit, while making sure his attention is right on you.

With your dog sitting in front of you, say, “[Marmaduke], stay” in a firm, calm voice. Gesturing your hand like a stop sign is will also help your dog to learn this command. Now, take one step back, and then step forward again. Let’s cha-cha – just kidding. If Marmaduke hasn’t begun to follow you, give him the treat and say, “Stay, good boy”.

If he’s still paying attention, do the exercise again, increasing the steps one at a time.

If you can get to five steps, rather than going back to your dog, call him to you and give him the treat. (This will also help him when learning the ‘Come’ command.)

Come.

The ‘Come’ command is probably the most important obedience command you will ever teach your dog – although ‘fetch me a coffee’ is probably a close second. But in all seriousness, this instruction may come in handy to guide your dog away from serious danger – speeding cars, cats who haven’t had their coffee, and so on. So without further ado, here’s how to do it:

To begin, put a leash on your dog and have him sit in front of you. With a treat in hand, get his attention.

Now, squat down slightly, pat your thighs and say, “Come!” Pulling lightly on the lead, guide your Greyhound gently toward you, hand over hand. Reward ol’ Speedy with praise, and the treat, of course.

Practice this for a week or so, in a contained area such as your fenced yard. Gradually begin working on the command without the lead, while slowly increasing the distance between the two of you.

Other yelpful hints:

  1. Use the ‘come’ command in your daily activities, such as calling your dog over for dinner.
  2. When you’re teaching your pooch this command without his leash and he doesn’t respond, don’t chase after him. Try waiting for him, first.
  3. Remember, the goal is to make coming to you a more attractive option to your dog than any other action. This is where treats drolly come in handy.
  4. The ‘come’ command should be something your dog looks forward to hearing – something he has a positive association with. So when you say it, make sure it’s not always to call him over to put the lead on.

Rrrrrules to keep in mind.

First and fur-most, it’s important to remember to be patient with your dog. For example, you never want to ever punish your dog when he comes back to you during ‘Sit’ or ‘Stay’. Sometimes dogs can take what seems like forever to respond to commands, but this is normal. If you get angry with your dog, he’ll associate that emotion with the last thing he did, which was coming to you.

And when you’re doing any training exercises with your wet-nosed wonder, three or four repeats per session is usually enough for his short attention span. Three or four training sessions per day is also ideal. You dig?

One more time – patience, patience, patience. No need to be too hard on yourself or your dog. Everyone learns at different rates, and with a little TLC that’s top of mind, your faithful friend will come around. Woof.