Positively training your dog is easy and is as simple as ABC.
- Advise - in other words; give your dog the command you plan to use
- Behaviour - gently show your dog what position is expected of him
- Congratulate - praise and reward him so that he knows he has 'got it right'
If you adopt this three-step process and couple it with consistency then success should be just around the corner.
Before we embark on some basic exercises however, simply ask yourself "how well does my dog know his own name?" Now this may seem a silly question but often a young dog hears the command of 'no' frequently and may consider that this is how he identifies himself to you.
Using the above ABC process, introducing your dog to his name should be a positive and easy journey. Simply call his name, then when he actually looks at you, shower him with affection and praise - easy! Don't forget to be consistent and practice this routine time and time again to ensure that your dog learns that his name generates a positive response and not a negative one.
Now that your dog knows who he is, we can start to introduce him to important and fundamental exercises, such as a basic sit.
Adopting the ABC process again, stand close and tall in front of your standing dog. With something appealing to your dog in one of your hands such as a favourite doggy treat or special toy, show him what you have to gain his interest. Once you have gained his attention, whilst giving him the command of 'sit' raise your hand with treat or toy still in it, approximately five centimetres, no more, above his nose and towards him. What you should expect to see is that when he raises his eye level to focus on your hand his back end will lower and ultimately he will sit. If you find that your dog remains in a standing position, raise your hand just a little more and walk towards him. As a dog doesn't walk backwards very easily you will find that the result will end up with a sit - bingo!
Finally and most importantly, congratulate him for a job well done and give him his reward, be it treat or toy, so that he knows his response was correct. Bearing in mind that a dog doesn't retain information as well as we do, so practice time and again to ensure that he understands your command and the behavioural response he should adopt.
Probably the most important exercise of all to ensure your dog comes when called, every time! This exercise should also be the most enjoyable for your dog because he gets to run. Before you do anything however, organise yourself and be ready to reward your dog with treat or toy. Always have your dog at the end of a loose lead, approximately two metres in length, then call his name, as we now know that this will generate an immediate response, followed by the command of 'come'. Once your dog has turned towards you, commence praising him and start to run backwards whilst still facing your dog and gather the lead up in front of you to ensure that he runs directly towards you and not past you.
When your dog is within arm's length from you, stop running and bend slightly to show him the reward in your hand. Make sure your reward hand is close to you and at your own dog's eye level because if it is too high and out of his reach, he will jump! Now with your dog's focus on treat or toy, simply raise your reward hand approximately five centimetres and move it towards him to ensure that your dog rocks back into a sitting position then finish with further praise and reward. Again, be consistent with your training and do it frequently.
Another word of advice to finish on however, is not to end a fun afternoon in the park with a recall followed by immediately placing your dog back in the car to return home because this can sometimes become a punishment. Always ensure you do many recalls in the park in the early to mid session on his playtime and not at the end.