Instructing your dog to sit should be fairly easy. Stand him on your left side, holding the leash, also known as lead, fairly short, and command him to “sit”. As you give the verbal command, pull up slightly with the lead and push his hindquarters down. Do not let him lie down or stand up. If he does lie down, snap up on the lead until he rises to a sitting position again. If he is slow to respond, tug more sharply until he has done what you want him to. Keep him in a sitting position for a moment, then release the pressure on the lead and praise him. Constantly repeat the command as you hold him in a sitting position, thus fitting the word to the action in his mind. If he moves at all, immediately repeat the command and press him into a sitting position. After a time he will begin to get the idea and will sit without having to push his hindquarters down. When he reaches that stage, insist that he sit on command. Praise him often, always rewarding a correct action with your praise and affection.
You can also train your dog to lie down either on the verbal command “down” or when you give the hand signal, your hand raised in front of you, palm down. However, until the dog is really sure of the meaning of the command, and will do it by himself with no forcible action from you, the hand signal should only be used to accompany the verbal command. This command may be more difficult at first because it places the dog in a defenseless position, which may cause him to bolt away. Be lavish with your praise and affection when he has assumed the correct position and he will soon learn that nothing bad happens to him, and on the contrary will associate the “down” position with pleasing his master or mistress.
Don’t start instructing to lie down until the dog is almost perfect in sitting on command. Place the dog in a sit, and kneel before him. With both hands, reach forward to his legs and take one front leg in each hand, thumbs up, holding just above the elbows. Lift his legs slightly off the ground and pull them somewhat out in front of him. Simultaneously, give the command “down” and lower his front legs to the ground.
Hold the dog down and stroke him to let him understand that staying down is what you want him to do. This method is far better than forcing a young dog down. Using force can cause him to become very frightened and he will begin to dislike any training. Always talk to your dog and let him know that you are very pleased with him, and soon you will find that you have a happy working dog.
After he begins to get the idea, slide the lead under your left foot and give the command “down”. At the same time, pull the lead. This will help get the dog down. Meanwhile, raise your hand in the down signal. Don’t expect to accomplish all this in one session. Be patient and work with dog. He’ll cooperate if you show him just what you expect him to do.
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