This is the time of year when everyone makes resolutions, and “Finally Train The Dog” is definitely in the Top 10. The only problem is that you still have the same amount of time as you had LAST year (and possibly less)
To help you succeed even with a time crunch, here’s a training game that allows you to practice 4 skills at once. That means, even if you only have five minutes to train your dog, you’ll be working on 4 commands in ONE session!
Here’s a list of the commands:
Sit: The mother of all commands! “Sit” stops your dog from moving (as he’s heading for an open door, or to jump up on someone), it keeps your dog in one place (“hello, cleaning up broken glass!” ), and it’s a way to say “please” when he wants something from you.
“Wait” (Stay): A command you’ll use for dozens of different reasons! From opening a door that you don’t want him to run through, to having him be still when you need to wipe his paws or brush him, or for when you’d like him to stay in one place while you’re eating dinner. A solid stay command is a must-have for a well-trained dog.
“Get It”: A solid “get it” command gives PERMISSION to your dog to take something that he wants or that you’re asking him to pick up. Super handy when you drop bits of food on the floor when you’re cooking, and you’d rather let your dog have it as a snack, rather than pick it up yourself. So when you say “get it”, it becomes a permission-based game instead of a free-for-all scavenger hunt.
“Here” (Come): A life-saving command that you must have, for the time your dog gets loose and is running away from you. There are many other reasons, too, but this is the classic reason why most people begin training their dogs in the first place!
- Hold TWO treats in your hand. One is “low value”, and one is a “high value” treat. (For example: a piece of kibble would be low value for my dogs, and a piece of string cheese would be high!)
- Have your dog on either a 6’ leash that you’re holding, or a long dragline that you’re not. The idea is that if he decides to run off, you have a way to catch him!
- Ask your dog to sit at your left (or right!) side, facing the same direction as you, and tell him to “stay”. If he doesn’t have a great stay, hold his collar.
- Throw your low value treat a few feet ahead of you. This is great practice for his ‘stay’ when he’s really distracted by something he wants!
- If he gets up from the sit position, put him back.
- Tell him to “Get It!” as you let go of his collar.
- When he picks up the treat, immediately hold your arm out in front of you with the high-value treat, and say your dog’s name and “Come” (or whatever verbal command you use), and run backwards, enthusiastically cheering and praising him.
- After moving back a few feet, stop, lure him to the front of your body, and give him a treat. If your dog knows ‘collar grab’, do that, too and give a second treat. For more of a challenge, ask for a Sit then give the treat.
Initially practice in a distraction-free environment, but then add challenges. Ideal locations to practice would be at the front door, back door, yard gate, and other places that it’s likely that your dog might refuse a “Come” command.