Author: John Woods
Does your dog know how to give you their paw? Roll over? Spin around? These are all fun tricks which are great to show off at parties, but do they understand commands that could one day be life-saving?
Say for example you have a dog who loves herding, and he is off chasing squirrels and are about to run out into a busy road? The consequences can be great.
These simple to teach dog commands can help you to protect you dog in dangerous situations and save their life.
If there is only one command you are going to teach your dog, it should be come. If your dog knows and responds to the recall command reliably you can help them to avoid almost all potentially dangerous situations.
To teach the recall command you’ll need a friend to help. Sit on the floor about 10 feet away from your helper. Have your friend lightly restrain your dog, and then you call the pup excitedly. When they start running towards you give them plenty of praise and a treat, after a few rounds of this, start using ‘come’ instead of their name. Keep repeating, gradually increasing the distance.
This command will help them to remain still until they are released. This is ideal if you need to figure out a situation and have him wait for you.
Most people train their dogs using the stay command, and then walk away, telling them to come and fetch a treat as long as they’ve stayed. This is not ideal because it teaches the down to break the position which you just asked them to hold, in order to get a treat.
Instead have your dog sit or lay down, say ‘stay’ holding your hand up. Place a treat just out of reach, and once you’re sure your dog is listening to the command and staying still, pick the treat up and give it to him. Increase the time between rewards to help him learn to stay for longer.
Teaching your dog to drop an object can save his life. It’s also a great command to use in everyday life if he pinches one of the children’s toys and it’s very easy to teach.
Give your pooch a toy to play with, and then call him to you. Offer him a treat and he’ll release the toy in exchange for the treat. Keep repeating this action until he has it mastered. At this point you can give the behavior a name, ‘drop’. Keep practicing until he associates the behavior with the command.
This command is great if Fido is walking to far in front and you don’t know what dangers could be ahead. Again, it’s another easy one to teach too.
Take your dog and some treats to a nice big open space and whilst he’s having fun exploring around, call him to you using his name. Whilst he is running over, throw some treats behind him which will make him turn around and stop to eat them. Keep doing this a few times, and then introduce the name of the command ‘stop’ as you throw the treat.
You might also want to use a hand signal too, which can be useful if you’re in a busy place and they can’t hear you.
Teaching your dog to heel (to walk subordinately by your side) can be useful in situations where they are tempted to run off after another animal.
Clicker training is one of the most effective ways to teach your dog this command. Put your dog on leash, sit them on your left hand side and have them sit calmly until you’re ready to walk.
Start to walk forward slowly using the command heel, and hold a treat within an inch of your dog’s face to guide them. Every few steps reward them with a click and a treat. If you dog pulls, veers off, or is distracted, stop immediately and have them sit and stay, then start over.
To teach your pooch this command, stand in front of them holding a treat. Wait for them to sit, then give the treat. Step back, or to the side to encourage them to stand and repeat again. If this doesn’t work for your dog, use the luring technique.
Get down in front of your dog and put the treat right in front of their nose, slowly lift the treat above their head and this should encourage them to sit as they lift their head. After they’ve repeated this a few times, label the behavior ‘sit’.
Teaching your dog these commands will not only help in everyday life, but will also be life-saving if a situation ever occurs where you need to use one in an emergency.
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