March 31, 2021
The old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks is definitely not true. We've got tips that can benefit the training of any dog, whatever their age.
'Sit' is a wonderful command as dogs simply cannot get into mischief when sitting. With a bit of time and patience, dogs of all kinds can be taught to sit in a matter of days. To teach this command, take a piece of food between your thumb and index finger and fold the rest of your fingers against your palm. Put the food right up to your dog's nose, no more than a half-inch from it. You should now have your dog's full attention so slowly lift the treat up over its head and slightly back toward the tail. Hold it there and, as your adult dog raises its head up to nibble at the food, gently push its bottom down. Say "sit" as you see it start to lower. This will help your student learn to associate the act of sitting with the word. Practice this whenever you give your dog a toy or treat or when you open a door or remove the leash.
Teaching your dog to 'STAY' is important to your dog's safety, and is very useful in daily activities. For the best effect, your dog will need to have mastered the 'SIT' command first. The 'STAY' command teaches your dog to remain still until you allow it to move again. To begin with, attach the leash and hold it in your right hand with your dog on your left side. Next, say 'STAY' in a firm voice, then step forward and turn to face your dog, holding the leash straight up so it and the collar are high on its neck. Wait a few seconds and then return to its side. Practice this for 10 minutes each day, gradually backing away to the full extent of the leash and giving plenty of praise (and a yummy treat) for every successful attempt.
When teaching your dog commands it's important that it reacts to you and comes when called. That's why the command 'COME' is an excellent one to teach early on. When training your young student, try to use the same command word consistently, so as not to confuse your dog. Choose a short, one-word command, not a long sentence. For example, 'Come here!' is actually too long, whereas 'Come!' is just the right length. After you have called your dog once or twice, it will probably come running to you no doubt with a furiously wagging tail! Give your dog a lot of praise (and the occasional treat) every time it successfully obeys your command so he or she knows that these actions pleased you.
Teaching your dog to fetch objects can be great fun and is an excellent way for your furry friend to burn off some energy! If your dog is reluctant to fetch things at first, try using an object in which you can place some treats such as a hollow stick or try cutting open a tennis ball. Show your dog that there are treats inside and throw it, but run with your dog to encourage the chase. Let your dog have the treat and repeat the exercise, gradually reducing the frequency of treats to 1 in every 3 throws. Eventually your clever dog will chase the objects without treats.
Teaching your dog to roll over is easy and can be a great fun game to play with them. Encourage your dog to lie on its side and hold a tasty treat near the side of the mouth. As your student rolls its head towards the treat, move it further away so your dog rolls onto its back and into a complete roll. As it rolls over give the command 'ROLL OVER' and repeat the exercise until it rolls on verbal command. Don't forget to heap plenty of praise on your clever dog after each successful attempt.
Find a low wall or log for your dog to jump over and tell them to sit while you step over the object and say 'OVER'. Gently tug on the leash to encourage your dog to move. Repeat this process until your dog jumps on command and without the leash. As your dog successfully completes each exercise, give it plenty of praise and the occasional treat.
Shaking hands is a great fun trick to teach your dog and one that is surprisingly easy to do. Start by sitting facing your dog and rest your hand next to its shoulder next to the face (on the same side as the paw you want to shake). Press your arm against your dog's head to help it balance, take the paw and say 'shake hands'. Repeat this until your mate raises a paw on verbal command. Be sure to give plenty of praise and, before you know it, your dog will be the friendliest dog in your neighbourhood!
Training your dog to get down on command is something like being able to park your car: it stops movement. An dog lying down is less likely to get into mischief. To teach the 'down' command it's important that your dog has been taught the 'sit' command. Have your dog sit next to you. Hold a treat between your fingers and put your fingers in front of your dog's nose. Rest your other hand on your dog's shoulder blades. Slowly lower the treat straight down, from your dog's nose to between the paws and slowly pull the treat along the floor away from your dog. This movement should look like a capital L. Your dog's nose should follow the treat and should move into the down position. When this happens repeat the exercise but start saying the word 'DOWN' as your dog is moving so that it links the word with the appropriate action. Keep practicing (and praising!) and soon enough your dog will respond to your verbal command.