Training Camp – Teaching the Basics

Consistency is the key when you begin training. Make sure you initially reward the behaviour you are looking for each and every time. The more a behaviour is rewarded, the more likely it is to occur. Use treats, toys and praise for a job well done. Instead of focusing on what your pup should not be doing, reward him for the behaviour you prefer.
There should be no reprimand before education. Don’t yell at your dog for not coming when you haven’t trained him properly. Practice and repetition of the exercise is important when learning any new skill. Be patient and have fun. If frustration sets in, try a more simple exercise and call it a day. End on a positive note. Starting again the next day, when you are both in a good frame of mind, is more conducive to teaching and learning.

Sit

  • Put a treat near your puppy’s nose to start. Slowly raise the treat over your pup’s head. As he follows the treat, he will be lured backwards into the sit position.
  • As soon as he is in the sitting position, say the word “sit” and give him his reward. By saying the word sit as he is doing the behaviour, rather than multiple times, you will avoid teaching your pup to sit only when you say “sit, sit, sit”.
  • You can use the word “sit” to avoid jumping up. Instead of saying “no” or “off”, ask him to sit and reward him each time. Soon you will see him offer
    this behaviour; so don’t forget to acknowledge a job well done with a scratch under the chin.
  • Asking your pup to sit before he gets a pat, before meal times and before going through any doors is like asking your pup to say please. Teaching proper manners to any pup will set him up to be a well-behaved adult.
  • As you progress, start to wean the treats away, and only give them on occasion.

Come

  • It is important to pair the word “come” with something of high value for your puppy, such as a treat or favourite toy.
  • Put a dragline on your puppy before you begin. This is a long leash that you can step on if your pup runs off, and is used for safety.
  • Start by calling your pup’s name, and the word “come”. Run backwards away from him a few steps while verbally encouraging him to come towards you. When he gets to you, lightly grasp his collar first, and then reward him with something special. This will avoid him coming in for his reward, and quickly running off again.
  • If he gets distracted, step on the leash to stop him from taking a different direction, and encourage him to come away from what took his interest.
  • Always use a positive tone when calling your pup to come, even if you are annoyed. He needs to learn that coming when called is not threatening.
  • As you progress, stop running backwards and instead crouch down in one spot and call him to come. Continue to reward him each time he comes.
  • Once he has the hang of coming and having his collar taken, you can start to add the word “sit”. Soon, he should only get the reward (a game or a treat) once he is sitting in front of you.

Heel

  • Heeling means to walk your puppy on your left side, with some slack in the lead.
  • Reward your puppy first for being at your left side. While it might seem excessive, reward him every few steps.
  • As you progress, start to reward him each time you turn, to keep him engaged.
  • Progress further by adding a sit each time you come to a stop (at an intersection for example).
  • By not pulling your puppy back to you, and instead rewarding him for being beside you, he will learn that he gets his reward for being close to you on your left, rather than pulling you down the street.