Tricks you can teach any dog, old or new

A well-trained dog is a happy dog, so it's worth taking the time to build a confident relationship between you and your pet. Here's how:

Tricks you can teach any dog, old or new

Create a learning environment

  • Start your training in your yard, if you have one. Work up to going to the park at quiet times when there's fewer distractions.
  • Get someone to drive you to the park, and walk home. Your dog is less likely to pull on the way back.
  • If your dog has lots of energy, let them burn off a bit of it in the yard before walking outside.

Teach them to sit

The sit command is one of the easiest to teach a dog:

  • Start by facing the dog with a treat in your hand and, as they trot towards you, hold it over their head.
  • Keeping their eyes on the treat, the dog will back up and sit down. As they do so, say "Sit!" Reward them with the treat.
  • Don't say "sit down." This will confuse the dog when you try to teach them "down."
  • Don't push the dog's bottom down to make them sit, just keep repeating the command and give lots of praise.

The tricks to teaching a dog to stay and come

Teaching to stay then come is trickier, since "stay" is an abstract concept for a dog, whereas sitting is a physical act. This method will help them learn.

  • Have a reward in each hand.
  • Tell the dog to sit and give them a treat.
  • Hold up your empty hand as if you were stopping traffic and back slowly away, issuing a firm, clear command of "Stay!"
  • Keep facing and looking at the dog. When you've put a small distance between you, call out an enthusiastic "Come!" When the dog comes to you, reward them with the other treat.
  • If they try to get up and approach you before you call, say a definite "No!" Ask them to sit again and start the exercise over again.

Bring a dog to heel

In the excitement of a walk, a dog may naturally tug and scrabble. If your dog starts to pull the instant you clip the leash on, stand still and wait. Don't go anywhere until they've calmed down. Here's how to teach your dog to heel.

  • Choose which side you want your dog to walk on and stick to it. Hold the leash in the opposite hand and put a treat in the other hand.
  • Show the dog the treat to get their attention and walk forwards. As the dog follows your hand, say "heel" and give a little of the treat.
  • Keep going, repeat "heel" and give a little more of the treat. Don't stop walking.
  • If the dog doesn't keep up with you or pulls in a different direction, suddenly change your direction and encourage the dog to come with you.
  • Whenever your dog falls in step with you, praise them.

Stop jumping up

In natural exuberance, your dog may bound up to greet you or others. To discourage this, you and all the family must take the same line.

  • When the dog jumps up, don't make eye contact with them, don't touch them or talk to them. Instead, walk away or gently push them away.
  • If a dog is ignored they will learn that this isn't the way to get attention, and that it's calm behaviour that wins rewards.

Training your dog comes with many different challenges, but it's well worth it. Not only will your dog be easier to control, it'll be less likely to cause problems if it gets overly excited.

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