Train Your Dog in Fifteen Minutes a Day, by Steve Duno
For your dog’s safety, and for the peace of your home, obedience training doesn't need to be time-consuming or difficult. In fact, you need only spend about fifteen minutes each day teaching your dog the right behaviors.
For puppies, the basic behaviors "Sit","Down","Stay" and "Come" must be mastered as soon as possible.
If these essential behaviors aren't taught, your puppy will be out of control, and might run off or get hit by a car.
To teach "Sit" simply hold a small treat right in front of your puppys nose, in a closed fist. Once your puppy starts sniffing at your hand, slowly raise your hand up and back, so that the puppys nose follows the treat. At the same time, repeat the word "Sit". Most puppies will naturally sit in order to keep their noses close to the scent of the treat; when yours does, immediately say "good Sit!" and give him the treat.
If need be, use your free hand to gently push the puppy's rump down as it sniffs at the treat. Repeat the procedure two or three more times, then quit. Be sure to stop when the puppy is still excited to perform. If instead of sitting he jumps up, simply pull your hand away and say "No". Then start again, with your hand held just below his nose. The entire procedure shouldn't take more than 2-3 minutes.
For “Down,” use the same treat technique, only this time slowly lower it down from your puppy’s nose, towards the middle of his front feet. This one takes a bit of practice; you’ll have to manipulate the treat position a bit to get him to lay down for it.
Again, while lowering the treat, repeat “Down” several times. If necessary, you might even need to gently press the puppy down with your free hand. Once he is down, say “good Down!” and reward with the treat.
Work on this for only a few minutes at a time; you needn't have success the first time around. You can repeat the procedure 2-3 more times during the day. Working this training just before mealtime (when the puppy is most treat conscious) works best.
For "Stay", you'll first need to have the "Down" command mastered.
First, with his leash and collar attached, command the puppy into a "Down" position. Then, while kneeling in front of him, say "Stay" in an authoritative voice, while also holding an open hand right in front of his face. Then move away a foot or so (while still on your knees), the leash in your hand. If the puppy stays for even five seconds, praise and reward with a treat.
If he gets up immediately (as he probably will), say "No", give the leash a quick little pop, then place him back into the "Down" position and start again. Don't worry; this one will take at least a week or two to master. Just be sure not to overdue the initial training for this behavior ; 2-3 minutes is fine, provided you work it every day. Once your puppy does learn to stay down, though, you can lengthen the duration of the "Stay" until he can hold it indefinitely.
For "Come," get a friend to help. Have him or her hold the puppy about ten feet away from you, in a quiet room; then get down on your hands and knees and call the puppy over, enthusiastically saying "Bobo, Come!";. As soon as he starts coming over, start saying "Good!" When he gets to you, praise and reward with a treat. Then reverse it; hold the puppy, and have your friend call him over. Do this back and forth for 2 minutes, then stop.
Over a few weeks, gradually lengthen the distance. Then, take the puppy out into the yard and repeat the process. Finally, take him to a park, and with a 20-foot piece of clothes line attached, repeat the procedure. At this stage the puppy may become easily distracted; if he doesn't come when called, be sure to say "No," then literally reel him in if need be. He must be taught that there can be no alternative to this vital command. Work this only for a few minutes, then repeat the next day. Remember, there can be no option in his mind; if he can get away with not coming to you half the time, the training won't work. Once your dog knows the basic commands, be sure to maintain them by working each for 2-3 minutes each day.
Even older dogs will benefit from short, regular training sessions. Work the "Stay" in different areas of the home or yard, or even at a park or ball field. The "Stay" should sometimes be maintained for ten-twenty minutes, to teach the dog patience and calmness, no matter the situation. These periods should not be included in the fifteen minutes per day, as the dog is merely "resting" in one spot.
If you work the basics for fifteen minutes each and every day, your dog will be calmer, easier to live with, and less prone to getting into trouble. Remember; it's not the length, but the quality of the training session that counts!
For more information on this subject, contact your veterinarian.
Article reprinted with permission of:
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"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man." - Mark Twain
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