Basic puppy training
January 10, 2019
Sit, stay and come
Puppies sure are on a steep learning curve, especially in their first few months.
How’s your puppy going with the three key commands of sit, stay and come?
Puppy training should be based on a positive reward based training method. This gentle method of training is effective with all breeds of dog. Punishing your puppy with harsh reprimands if they misbehave is not necessary.
The key to your puppy learning desirable behaviour is to ignore the alternative undesirable behaviour. By rewarding desirable ‘good dog’ conduct, your puppy will offer these behaviours more often. Likewise not rewarding poor behaviour will encourage it to cease.
For early puppy training, food treats are generally the most motivating and convenient reward. However, as the desired behaviour is learned, the use of food treats should be phased out and replaced with other forms of reward. This can include offering praise, patting or playing with a toy, as well as 'life-rewards' which are things your puppy enjoys in their daily life such as games, trips to places they like, extra walks etc
Remember that food treats should not make up more than 10% of your puppy’s daily food intake and chocolate should not be used as a treat for your dog. If you need to do a lot of food reward training, which is common in the early days with your puppy, consider using a portion of your puppy’s main meal dry kibble for training. That way they are receiving complete and balanced nutrition, and you can reduce their main meal volume accordingly to avoid over-feeding.
Hold a food treat in your hand and place your hand in front of your puppy’s nose. Gradually move your hand upwards. Your puppy will follow the food treat causing their head to move upwards and their backside to move towards the ﬂoor. Just before your puppy’s rear touches the ﬂoor, say ‘sit’. At the moment their rear touches the ﬂoor, praise and reward. Repeat over several training sessions.
The next step is to fade out the food lure. Say ‘sit’ and use the same hand signal as in step one but do not have food in your hand. When your puppy sits, then you can praise and reward them with a treat.
Begin with your puppy sitting in front of you. Say ‘stay’ and wait 2 to 3 seconds. If your puppy does not move, praise and reward them. If your puppy moves, simply turn away and do not offer a reward. Now ask your puppy to ‘stay’ and take one small step sideways. If your puppy remains still, offer praise and reward them. Gradually increase the distance you move away from your puppy.
Show your puppy that you have their favourite treat or toy. Call your puppy’s name followed by the word ‘come’ in an enthusiastic tone. Step backwards. As your puppy comes towards you, praise and reward them. If there are others in the household, practice calling the puppy between you. Never ever call your puppy to you and punish them. This will make them less likely to come to you the next time you call.
Everyone learns best when they're having fun, so keep your practice sessions short and enjoyable.