How to train your dog and teach him basic commands
When you bring home a puppy or an older dog from the shelter, as soon as he settles in with you and gets a bit used to the new environment, you need to start with gradual training. Only a well-trained and obedient dog will be a reliable companion that you can take with you into the forest and society. How to train your dog and teach him basic commands?
Training a dog requires discipline and patience on the part of humans. When training goes wrong, it's usually not the dog's fault, but ours, although it's hard to admit it. As soon as we start training a dog, we must follow some rules and above all be consistent - this is the only way to achieve success and mutual trust, which is the basis of a healthy relationship between a dog and its owner.
Principles of training a dog
- Give clear directions to your dog. The dog must understand what you want from him. Choose what commands you give him and don't mix them up. If you want to call the dog, for example, always call "to me" and not once "to me" and the second time "come here".
- Reward and praise. If the dog succeeds in mastering the command, praise and reward him. Keep plenty of treats with you – just little nibbles will do.
- Only one member of the household should always train the dog, who will be in the position of "leader" of the pack. Otherwise, the dog will get confused.
- The dog will be more attentive and will not want to play as much if you let him play around before the training itself.
- Only train for a few minutes at a time (e.g. 5 minutes) and then give both the dog and you a break.
- It doesn't always have to be a good day, so if training doesn't go well, don't be unnecessarily nervous and leave everything for another time.
- Always repeat - maybe several times a day at short intervals.
- Beware of excessive punishments. If the dog is literally doing "dog tricks", you can only scold him when you catch him doing it. For example, if he makes a puddle at home and you want to scold him an hour later, it's pointless. A firm command of "no" or "you mustn't" and pulling on the skin behind the neck usually works.
- Start training at home. The home environment that the dog is familiar with is suitable for the beginning of training. When the dog starts to master the instructions, you can also take him to public spaces and train obedience in the park or maybe on the street.
- Train the dog gradually. Start with simple instructions and exercises, if the dog can master them, move on. How the commands should follow each other is shown below.
- Be patient. Some dogs are more docile, others need to repeat the instructions several times.
- It's also good to socialize the dog. Therefore, do not hesitate to go to the training center, where you will meet experienced cynologists who will help and advise you.
- Don't hesitate to use the training collars. Today, even professional cynologists use them regularly, so there is no reason to be ashamed of it.
When to start training your puppy
Indeed, we should not put too much strain on the puppy until about 4 months of age. The dog is growing and developing, so excessive load could cause him complications. Nevertheless, it is advisable to start at least with basic training and socialization.
Training according to the puppy's age
- From 2 months - we teach the dog to hear its name and call, we accustom him to the home environment and street noises, and we teach him cleanliness.
- From 3 months - we start to show him what he is not allowed to do - for example with the command "no" or "you mustn't", we teach him to come when called and start with the command "sit".
- From 4 months - we teach the dog to stay in place with the command "wait" or "stay", we get him used to the leash and practice walking by the leg.
- From 5 months - we do fetch and train walking by the foot without a leash.
- From 6 months - we add additional skills (e.g. field training).
Calling the dog - the most important command
Experienced cynologists say that if the dog does not come when called, it is not possible to continue further training. Therefore, start practicing the command "to me" at an early puppy age. First address the dog, get his attention, and then add an instruction. The basis of success is to explain to the dog what you are asking him to do with the "to me" command.
Take just a few steps away from the dog, address him, and add a command. When he comes to you, reward him so that he knows that he did everything right. Extend the distance. When the dog comes to you when called, never scold him for something he did before. They don't make these connections. Do not leash the dog immediately after being called, but reward and pet him first. That way he won't associate the summoning with being put back on a leash.
Walking by the foot
From about the 4th month, we should start training an important command, namely walking by the leg. It is trained first on a leash and then without a leash. The dog should ideally walk on a loose leash and should not pull you. We always practice walking on the left foot! The right shoulder of the dog should always maintain the level of the owner's leg and the dog should adjust to the speed of walking.
How to do it? Call the dog to you first. Add a command to the leg and direct it by pulling it from behind around the legs to your left leg. We walk a bit and call the dog again and add the command "to the leg". We repeat this several times and always praise and reward the dog if he comes to the leg. We can then attach the dog to the leash and start training him to walk by the leg. We repeat the command "to the leg" and correct his walking with the help of a leash. Ideally, the dog should eventually stop needing a leash and obediently walk at our feet. Don't forget to take breaks during this exercise as well.
Basic sit command
One of the most basic commands a dog should respond to is "sit". Address the dog again and add the "sit" command. If he is standing, you can give him a slight push on his bottom above his tail to show him what you mean by the command. Praise and reward him. Then repeat. Teaching a dog the "sit" command is not complicated. Be consistent, be patient, and don't forget to praise the dog.
"Lie Down" command
In addition to the "sit" command, the puppy should also master the "lie down" command. The latter is more difficult, but it is definitely part of the basic training that you can master. This command follows the "sit" command, so you should start teaching it only when the dog has mastered the previous command. First, tell the dog to sit, say the command "lie down" and stretch the dog's front legs so that he lies down - if the dog remains lying down without your help, praise follows. Then train the "lie down" command without your help.
Stay - another basic command
Basic dog training also includes the "stay" command. You'll use it many times in practice, so it's worth paying attention to. First seat the dog with the "sit" command and then add the "stay" command. Walk away a few steps. If the dog waits, call him to you and give him good praise and reward. Gradually increase the distance and call time. At a more advanced stage of training, go around a corner and then come back. A dog trained in this way can then wait for you, for example, in front of the store, because he will know that his owner will return to him.
In today's article, we showed you how to train your dog and teach him basic commands. Individual commands will be covered in detail in separate articles.