There are five elements that your dog needs to understand if it’s to become a well-trained pet. These are sit, drop, stay, come and walk at heel. Your vet or local dog-training club can help you find a puppy preschool or dog-obedience class, but teaching your pooch these commands is easier than you think. The trick is to start when your dog is as young as eight-weeks old. Be consistent and repetitive – say each command at least 10 times. Reward with food and praise, and practice for about 10 minutes each day.
1. SIT Focus your dog on a food reward. This should be something different to its usual meal. Cheese, chicken, cabanossi or liver treats are ideal. Work with the dog on a lead; that way you have control. Position your dog with its back to a wall, to stop it backing away. Hold a food reward over top of the nose and rock it backwards over the top of the head. Your dog will follow the treat and sit. The moment it does, say ‘sit’, and reward immediately.
2. DROP With your dog in the sit position, hold reward over top of the nose and extend treat forward to ground at a 45 degree angle. Your pet should drop to its belly. If it only goes halfway, still give a reward, but repeat until it does drop.3. STAY With your dog in the sit position, hold up your hand in a stop sign. Walk back one or two steps, make eye contact with your dog, say ‘stay’, wait 10 seconds, then go back and reward your pet. Gradually extend both the distance you retreat and the time you wait before returning.
4. COME This is an extension of stay. With the dog in sit position, and you at a distance from the dog, say ‘come’ and jump up and down to break stay command. Reward your pooch when it comes.
5. WALK at heel Put your dog on a lead and make it sit to your left. Hold a food reward in front of your left thigh as you walk forward. This encourages the dog to focus on this position and walk on a slack lead. Use the command ‘heel’ or ‘walk’, reward your dog after a few paces, then go again.