Everyone loves a well-behaved dog! Even “non-dog people” (they really DO exist) will appreciate and admire your dog when she follows your directions. Well-behaved dogs are made, not born. So, how do you create this dog? Through training. A dog who knows what is expected of her will be confident and compliant. She will look to you for guidance, and will have a positive attitude and a willingness to learn. Teaching and reinforcing these skills will help her to behave better in every aspect of her life because she will not be confused about what is expected of her. She will be confident because she knows the rules.
Here are 5 skills every dog needs know (OK, really 6 skills every dog needs to know!)
- Sit – The most often requested dog behavior. Require your dog to sit before being fed, leashed up for a walk, tossing a toy, or opening a door to go outside.
- Down – This skill can instantly create a calmer dog. When taught to lay down on a mat, “down” can create a “home base” for the dog while the family is eating dinner or visiting with company. The mat can be moved to different rooms in your home or brought with when you travel.
- Leave It – This skill can literally save your dog’s life. What happens if you drop a prescription medicine tablet on the floor? Without a good “Leave it”, you may be visiting the Veterinary Emergency Room to have your dog’s stomach pumped. This skill can eventually become “leave it” for food that’s dropped on the floor, a napkin, a shoe, a mobile phone, the cat, etc…
- Loose Leash Walking (LLW) – Taking a walk with your dog should be a pleasurable experience but it must be TAUGHT. No dog automatically knows how or wants to be attached to you by a leash and walk right past all the interesting sights and scents. This behavior makes no sense from the dog’s perspective. Teach your dog to walk nicely with a loose leash and reward her by allowing her to sniff all the wonderful smells when you signal that it’s OK.
- Come – Another skill that can save your dog’s life. Teach “come” in a place with few distractions. Practice in the house and yard by calling your dog to “come”, reward and then release her to go play.
- Stay – The cue “Stay” means do not move until I release you. This is a great skill to practice each time you feed. Teach your dog to “stay” from a sit and a down position. Remember to start slow and build up to a longer period of time.
Group training class is a great place to start teaching these skills. In addition to starting out right, your dog will gain experience learning and working in a different environment near other dogs. Find a good Positive Reinforcement or “Force Free” Trainer. This means a trainer who does not use force, fear, physical pain or intimidation to get the dog perform the skills. Your dog doesn’t need to be ready for a professional obedience ring, she simply needs to be taught to follow basic requests (cues), respect personal boundaries and space by not jumping on you, follow the rules of the house, and walk nicely on a leash.