One of the signs of a nice dog is that she’s willing to be petted or handled by many different people. This is important because it makes grooming, veterinary care, and participation in dog sports much easier. Willingness to be handled is a by-product of socialization. The dog who meets a lot of people learns to expect petting in a variety of situations. She learns that touch is pleasant, not frightening.
Here are a few dog obedience training tips.
Start accustoming Duchess to being handled for grooming and veterinary care when she’s a puppy. Take her in your lap and gently brush her. Speak softly to her, saying things such as “That feels good, doesn’t it, Duchess?” Lift up her ears and look inside them. Run your fingers around the inside of her lips. Stroke her paws and then pick them up and hold them. Although most dogs hate having their feet handled, they can learn to tolerate it if you start early enough and are persistent. A good time for these handling sessions is while you’re watching TV.
At first, handle your dog for only a minute or two at a time, then gradually extend the length of time you spend grooming her. When she’s used to having your fingers in her mouth, introduce her to a soft dog toothbrush. You’ll be thankful for all of your prep work when her coat grows out and needs frequent combing or when she needs a bath.
The sit command is one of the easiest to teach and one of the most useful. Pups can learn it at an early age, so it’s a great way to accustom them to the training process. Requiring your dog to sit is also a great way to reinforce your status as the leader.
The first thing Duchess should learn is that she gets attention when she sits. Not when she jumps up. Not when she runs away. When she sits. Because sit is often the first command dogs learn, it seems to stick more firmly in their brain, and they often respond to it more readily than to any other command. That’s why it has so many great uses.
To teach the sit command, start by getting Duchess’s attention. Show her a treat and slowly move it upward so she has to raise her head to see it. Most dogs naturally move into a sitting position when they do this. If Duchess isn’t quite there, gently push down on her rump while moving your hand back over her head to give her the idea. When she’s in position tell her to sit and give her the treat. Practice for only a couple of minutes (puppies have a short attention span) and repeat several times throughout the day. Soon Duchess will recognize that your uplifted hand signals the sit command even if you’re not holding a treat.
Practice using the sit command in different situations once Duchess associates it with the action of sitting. Teach her to sit and wait before you pet her, before you feed her, and before you put her leash on. If you’re out in the yard and she wanders away from you tell her to sit so she learns to respond even when you’re at a distance. This won’t be helpful if she’s at risk of being hit by a car, but it can be useful in a more controlled situation when you simply want her to wait for you. (A leash, of course, is the best way to keep a dog under control and should always be used in unfamiliar or unfenced areas.)
To teach the wait or stay command, place your dog in a sit. Hold up your hand, with the flat of your palm toward the dog’s face, and tell her to wait or stay (whichever you prefer); then back up a few steps. If your dog remains where she is, praise her. Gradually increase the amount of time she must wait before receiving praise or a reward. If she moves out of place, don’t punish her, simply put her back in position and start over.
Jumping is one of the most common complaints people have about their dogs. It may be cute when a puppy does it, but a couple of months later, when her size has doubled, it can become a problem. You don’t want Duchess knocking down Aunt Mary or Baby Sue with her exuberant greeting. Replace jumping behavior as soon as possible with the sit command.
Teaching a dog not to jump up doesn’t require any harsh tactics. Ignore anyone who tells you to knee the dog in the chest or push her away. Instead, simply pivot so she misses you. Then give the sit command. When she complies, give her a lot of praise or a treat. Repeat this every time she tries to jump up and insist that other people do so as well.
Often, especially with toy breeds, people say that they don’t mind, and refuse to participate in the training process. If you have a large dog, that’s not really an option because you don’t want to run the risk of someone being injured, even inadvertently. It’s not so bad with a toy breed, but remember that even small dogs can snag your stockings or scratch your legs when they jump up. It’s better if you teach them the same good manners you would teach a larger dog.
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