Adopting a puppy is exciting, but it’s important to take the time to train your new companion. Teaching your new puppy commands is an opportunity for you to bond with her as well as set healthy boundaries for her behavior. It sets the foundation for a healthy, happy relationship for both of you. “Sit,” “stay” and “drop it” will be useful commands throughout your dog’s life.
Commands can be used as behavioral training, discouraging negative behaviors like begging, chewing and climbing on furniture, or as obedience training, encouraging good habits, like sitting and staying when told. Start by calling your dog’s name to get his attention, then use simple one-word commands, like “sit” and “stay.” Speak loud and clear, repeating the command multiple times. It will probably take a while for the commands to stick, but do your best to be patient and keep a positive attitude.
Employ tasty treats to train your puppy to sit. Say “sit,” and hold the treat in your dog’s line of vision, about an inch away from her nose. Guide her to sit by moving the treat until her nose sticks straight up and her bottom falls to the floor. As soon as she sits, say “Yes!” and give her the treat. Repeat until she’s learned the action, then try it without the treat, just using the command and your hand to guide her nose. You can hold a treat in your other hand, or concealed in your pocket, and give it to her when she sits, saying “yes” to reinforce the action.
“Leave it” is important for keeping your dog safe in public and setting boundaries in your home. You can teach “leave it” using a toy or treat to tempt the dog, holding it so he can smell it or lick it, without actually being able to take it from you. Give the command, “leave it,” and begin to move your hand away from him. If he follows your hand, close your fingers around the treat and do not let him get to your hand. You can also use a leash to hold him back with more control.
Teaching “stay” requires a certain spot your dog can know as her own, like a mat, bed or kennel. Begin by showing your dog a treat in your hand, giving the command, “Go to your spot,” and tossing the treat onto the mat. After she goes to the mat and eats the treat, lead her away again and repeat the process. When she seems to grasp the idea, hold a treat behind your back and point to her spot with the other hand. Give the command and give her the treat only once she’s in her spot. After some repetition, hold the treat and tell her to go to her spot, then say “stay” and begin to back away. This time she gets the treat only after waiting patiently on her spot. In time she will understand “stay” without the use of her spot and without expecting a treat.
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