More and more, dogs are becoming part of their owners’ everyday activities. Whether they’re chilling with their humans at restaurants, zooming around dog-friendly parks or trotting on trendy leashes through craft markets, dogs are being included in so many of our recreational activities. But to be able to include your pooch means that he or she needs to be well-behaved and socialised.
Here are some simple ways to teach three basic behavioural skills. Remember, the earlier you start, the better.
3 good doggie behaviours and how to teach them
‘Sit’ is one of the most useful things to teach your dog, because a dog who is sitting is calm, in control, and not jumping all over people. How to teach your dog to sit:
- Have a small piece of your dog’s favourite treat on hand
- Face your pooch, then hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose, slowly moving it higher towards the top of her head until she can just barely reach it (if she lifts her front feet off the ground, you’re holding it too high).
- When your pooch lifts her head and shoulders to get the treat, her bum should go down.
- As soon as she is in this position, say ‘Sit. Good girl’, and give her a treat.
- If you need to, you can gently nudge your dog’s back to let her know that you want her to sit. Important: don’t force or push her too hard on her back or bottom. Being gentle and patient is key to training your pet.
- Practise many, many times! It may take 10 to 20 tries for your pooch to understand you. Praise your dog every time she gets it right. Don’t scold her if she doesn’t; simply say nothing and try again.
- Remember to practise in many different places and positions - ie, when your dog is next to you, walking on a leash, etc.
- By praising your dog, she’ll know that ‘sit’ pleases you, and she’ll want to obey you when you give this command.
This is super important if you plan to walk your dog off-leash - for example, in forests, on beaches, in busy dog parks, etc.
- Call your dog by his name, and do it often.
- Get a whistle, and using the treat and praise method, teach your dog that when you call him and blow a whistle, he needs to come to you. Each time he gets it right, praise him. You can give him a treat too if you like.
- Don’t panic if he suddenly forgets this command. Puppies go through phases in which they’re more independent and think that they don’t need to pay attention to you. Keep practicing the command, and your dog will again remember what he needs to do when you call him.
- You can also put him on a long leash and practise the ‘come’ command in a busy area where he’ll be distracted by people, skateboards, etc. This is a great way to reinforce the ‘come’ command. Just don’t put him on a long leash where there are other dogs - if he’s far from you and another dog approaches him, you won’t have sufficient control.
If you’re going to be taking your dog in the car, the ‘wait’ command is critical. Doggies know that the minute the car door open, the fun begins! (unless it’s a vet visit of course). This means that they’re usually chomping at the bit to get out of the car - but one false move could be disastrous. If your pooch knows the ‘wait’ command, she won’t leave the car until it’s safe to do so.
- Standing outside your car, tell your dog to wait in a firm but calm voice.
- Slowly start to open the car door. If she makes a move to get out, close the door immediately (careful not to hurt her).
- Wait a few seconds, then try again.
- Keep practicing until your furbaby is able to sit still until the door is fully open and you’ve given an indication to leave - something like ‘Okay!’ or ‘Free!’. This teaches your dog that they are only allowed to get to the fun stuff if they are paying attention to your cues and being obedient - in other words, when they have your permission. Being over-eager and ignoring you will simply put a handbrake on the fun!
This cue also works very well for all kinds of gates, doors, etc, so be sure to practise it in all these different settings.
Dogs are incredibly smart and they can be taught the right ways to behave - but they need you as their parents to teach them. The benefit is that the more you train your dog and the more time you spend with them, the closer you’ll become - and the better you’ll understand each other.
Good luck, coach! Need treats? Browse our great selection of delicious, high-quality doggie treats here.
Disclaimer: Always consult your vet for professional advice. The Zuki.co.za blog is provided as an educational tool and should not be used to diagnose illness or treat an animal.