Obedience training

Training your puppy to respond to basic commands is an essential part of managing their behaviour. And the secret to success is positive reinforcement - letting your dog know when they have behaved just the way you wanted them to. All your faithful friend wants from your relationship is to make you happy, so let them know when they do and they'll be more likely to repeat the good behaviour in the future.

Keep training sessions short – no more than 10-15 minutes, and in an environment with few distractions. Start by working on one command at a time. Keep it simple, and be patient, persistent and consistent. Here's how to master the 3 basic doggy commands.

Say the puppy’s name first, to get their attention and then the command “come”. If your puppy responds and comes to you, give them lots of praise and a treat. Repeat several times. If your pup starts to become less responsive, attach a long lead and pull him gently towards you, and again praise and treat. Always use an encouraging tone of voice. If you sound threatening, your puppy will prefer to not come near you!

First your puppy needs to know what “sit” means. So start by holding a treat just above his nose and head. They'll naturally look up at the treat, and when they do, move it very slowly further back over their head. As your puppy's gaze follows, their rear end may lower a little, and as this happens, push their bottom gently to the floor, giving the command "sit". As soon as your puppy sits, offer praise and give them the treat. Repeat this several times and eventually they'll respond to just the verbal command.

Once your puppy has mastered the art of “sit”, then you can teach them "stay": Stand in front of your puppy when he or she is sitting and give the command “stay”. A helpful visual cue is using your hand to make a ‘stop’ signal. Take a couple of steps back, repeat the command and hold up your hand again. Return, praise and reward your puppy immediately for staying - but be sure to give the reward while pup is still sitting. Gradually increase the distance and amount of time that you are asking them to “stay”. It will probably take several days to weeks of daily training to get your puppy to stay for more than a couple of minutes but this, and the "sit" command are extremely useful in the management of behaviour problems.

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