When we first get our dog, we envisage all the things we are going to do with them, all the great things we will be able to teach them and all the cool tricks we will get them to do! Often, life can get in the way and as much as we had hoped that our dog could fetch us a beverage, we simply do not get around to it.
So instead, let’s focus on teaching your dog the essential commands that can be applied to a long list of realistic circumstances. These are commands that promote calm behaviour, and encourage your dog to learn impulse control whilst allowing you (the owner) to keep them safe.
It is important to note that commands and tricks can be taught over time but what is most valuable and most important first and foremost is shaping confident, well mannered dogs.
Commandment One: “OK” (The Release command)
Teaching your dog a release command is extremely important to us at Found By The Hound. We teach all our dogs that there is a start and more importantly a finish to all commands given. This helps dogs learn when they need to be focused and when they can relax again.
Often owners fail to teach their dog a release command so the dog never understands when an exercise has finished. For example, owners command their dog to sit, so the dog sits but then gets up and walks away. Resulting in owners telling them over and over again to sit.
Not teaching your dog when it is over can be very detrimental to training because when you give a command, your dog does not understand how long they are supposed to do it for….Until you give a treat? Until you walk away? Until you say good dog? It is very confusing for our canine friends.
By teaching a release command you can give your dog clear communication and help them understand exactly what it is you want. Our dogs are taught a command such as Sit and they will remain in that position until we give them the “okay” release command. This builds a stable, calm, relaxed dog because they can understand our expectations better.
Commandment TWO: SIT (Bottom on Ground)
Teaching your dog to “Sit” will typically be the first thing an owner will teach their dog. It is the foundation of many other training techniques and often, is the easiest command to teach. It may not be impressive, but it is essential.
Sitting has many uses including providing an alternative behaviour option to replace undesirable behaviour (such as jumping). Very few people enjoy having dogs jump all over them. Not only is it annoying, it can be especially dangerous particularly if it occurs around small children or elderly people.
By encouraging “Sit”, your dog will learn that this behaviour will merit praise and attention as opposed to boisterous antics and jumping. Teaching your dog to sit for attention helps to promote the calm, controlled behaviour we all desire.
Commandment THREE: WAIT (Invisible Barrier/Do not pass)
Teaching your dog to “wait” is a command that can be applied to several circumstances. The “Wait” command is a mental boundary. This means that there is an invisible barrier that the dog cannot pass/act/do until invited. Contrary to the “stay” command, the dog is not required to remain in the exact position.
The biggest advantage to teaching the “wait” command is that it will begin to promote impulse control, good manners in the home and safety when out and about.
To have a dog that will “wait” on command will be less likely to barge through doors, knocking you or your children to the ground, he will wait calmly until he is invited to pass through. A dog that will “wait” will not try to demolish his dinner before you have a chance to place it down, he will wait calmly until he is invited to eat. A dog that will “wait” will not walk out onto the road, he will wait until you give the command to go.
Commandment FOUR: COME/HERE (Recall AKA: get back here)
There is nothing more frustrating or detrimental to training than allowing a dog to disregard and ignore a “Come” command. Recall and teaching the “Come” command is instrumental in maintaining control in every situation especially if you wish to allow your dog off leash in public areas.
If your dog does not have strong recall, they SHOULD NOT be able to roam off lead in public. You instantly lose all control over the situation.
Unless your dog is on lead, the “Come” command will be used almost daily, out in the yard, the park or the beach. Once your dog fully understands this command, it can then be called away from a threatening situation, busy roads, other dogs, and small children.
Letting your dog off lead prematurely and calling after it with zero success will teach your dog that A. you are not significant, and B. commands are optional when off lead.
Long leads are a fabulous tool to use when training the “Come” command. As they improve, increase the level of distraction. A command should be taught in different environments.
Commandment FIVE: On the Mat (Planned placement - Be calm and Relaxed)
Mat Training is a fundamental exercise to assist in teaching your dog to be calm and relaxed. It also allows you to have your dog stay in one spot but still give the freedom of moving around and getting comfortable. By teaching planned placement it will start to teach the dog to stay put until we return to the dog to release it.
Mats are conveniently portable so they can travel with your dog. If you visit the park or beach and find your dog has been running around and perhaps might need to calm down a little to prevent overheating, you can place your mat in the shade and have your dog relax and calm down for a bit.
Visiting family or friends can be another very useful time to be able to use planned placement or mat training. Kids can then run around at times without the risk of getting knocked over by excited dogs. Food can be eaten without dogs begging at the feet of every person in sight for a little piece. Guests can enter you home and not get completely inundated with dogs struggling for attention, and the list goes on and on.
Of course, there are plenty of other important things to teach your dogs in life and many other commands you may find important but these are the basic fundamentals to start you on the right foot to a lovely furry family member with nice manners. Clear communication is paramount with any training and you need to ensure you dog is receiving guidance from you.
Need assistance teaching your dog any of these commands or others? Why not schedule a Training session with our expert Trainers!