woman instructing a russell terrier dog

In order to embrace a lifelong love of learning, we’ve got to start small. Once we gain mastery of something, we can take it to the next level. The same is true in the world of dog training. You wouldn’t expect a pup to know how to jump through a hoop, for example, without teaching them the fundamentals. You can build off of the basics of dog training to truly teach your dog any trick in the book.

Always Worthwhile

It’s never too early to start dog training—it’s also never too late. Sure, puppies and younger dogs may show excessive amounts of energy and enthusiasm for whatever you do together. But older dogs can focus for longer periods of time and have the wisdom and experience of age to draw from. 

Be sure to keep your dog training sessions short, sweet, engaging, and rewarding. Stay patient, offer praise, and remain consistent in your approach. In the beginning, you might notice that your dog’s attention span and willingness to participate start to wane after 15 minutes. Take your cues from them and redirect to something else.

Where to Start

Positive reinforcement dog training involves rewarding the good, positive behaviors you want them to repeat, and ignoring the behaviors you don’t want to see. Be sure that the treats you use for training purposes do not create a weight problem for your dog. Scale back their meal portions to counter the calories they receive from training rewards. 

Clicker training is an excellent method. Instead of giving treats as rewards, you simply click a handheld device that helps your dog connect the good behavior with the reward. Either treats or clicks should be given immediately following the behavior you want repeated. 

Basic Commands in Dog Training

Once your dog learns and demonstrates mastery of the following five commands, you can use them to teach them more advanced skills:

  • Sit. This is a great place to start because it gives dogs confidence that they’re following directions. Holding a treat, ask them to sit. You may have to repeat it several times, and show them what you mean by “sit.” A little assistance can be given by gently applying pressure to their lower back. Only give the treat/clicker when they sit. 
  • Stay. Once they learn, slowly back away from them with hand help up in a stop gesture. Over time you can increase how much distance you put between your hand and dog. Again, only give the reward when they follow through.
  • Leave It. When your dog goes after a running squirrel or tries to pick up fallen food, this command is essential to their health and safety. Holding an item they like or want, pull the item away when they lunge for it and say the command. When they do leave it alone, give them a reward and lots of praise. 
  • Come. You can turn this into a game by hiding out in a different part of the house. Call their name and repeat the command until they find you.  
  • Lie Down. From the sitting position, hold a treat in front of them and close to the floor. When they put their belly on the floor, reward them. 

Dog training is an excellent endeavor made even more enjoyable when your dog is socialized. If you have questions about the benefits of dog training, or want to sign up for our own Puppy Preschool, please call us at (260) 493-3739.