Skip to content Skip to navigation

Two-Minute Training Tips: Sit, down, leave it

Whilst we would always recommend taking classes at your local dog training club, not only for the expert advice but also for the opportunity to train with the distraction of other dogs around, here are five easy-to-digest, useful and fun training tips that you can practice with your dog whenever you have a spare two minutes.
 
Regular training with your dog will not only teach them useful behaviours, but also help the two of you build a strong, lifelong bond.
 
Remember to teach only one exercise per session otherwise you might confuse your dog, and if your dog is easily distracted, train with the lead on, even in the house, so he doesn’t choose to just wonder off.
 
Use small pieces of soft titbits as a reward (sausage, frankfurter, cheese, chicken or any leftover meat). You will gradually discover which your dog likes best.
 
1. Teaching your dog his or her name
 
Why is this useful?
 
The dog’s name should just mean ‘look at me’ and is the best way to get the dog’s attention before asking him to do something like ‘come here’ or ‘we’re going this way’. Dogs don’t know they have a name, to them it’s just a word they hear a lot which often has no meaning to them.
 
How do you teach it?
 
Start where there are few distractions, say the dog’s name and reward with a titbit for looking at you. It’s as simple as that! The dog quickly learns that good things happen when they hear their name, and it is a great start for improving your recall. Once your dog responds 100% in an area with few distractions, practice in areas where there are more distractions, but be careful to slowly build up the distraction level – don’t go straight to a busy park!
 
2. Teaching your dog to sit
 
Why is it useful?
 
Teaching your dog to sit on command will often come in useful. From having them sit on the kerb as traffic passes, to having them sit patiently as you prepare their dinner, the ‘sit’ command is probably the most commonly used in dog training. 
 
How do you teach it?
 
Keep the titbit on the dog’s nose and move your hand up and backwards over the dog’s head so her head goes up, and her bottom will have to hit the floor. As the dog sits, put in the command ‘sit’ and reward with the titbit saying ‘good sit’.
 
Only give the titbit if the dog’s bottom stays on the floor, if she jumps up, take your hand away and repeat the exercise. Once the dog understands the position you will be able to progress to the hand signal and the command ‘sit’, then just the command.
 
3. Teaching your dog to ‘leave’ a treat
 
Why is it useful?
 
One particularly important reason for teaching ‘leave’ is to make sure you can stop your dog from taking food that isn’t theirs. It also comes in useful when you want your dog to leave something they find on the floor whilst out for a walk. 
 
How do you teach it?
 
Hold a treat tightly in your left hand close to your dog’s face. Your dog will try to get the treat but say nothing and wait until the dog backs away slightly.
 
Say ‘good leave’ and give the dog a treat from your right hand. We say feed from the right hand because when you use the ‘leave’ command in the real world you don’t want the dog thinking he can then get whatever he has been asked to leave.
 
You can gradually build up the temptation the dog is being asked to ‘leave’ by opening your left hand so the treat is visible and ultimately putting the treat on the floor. Always be ready to cover up the treat if the dog goes to eat it and then go back a stage in your training if that happens, as your dog isn’t yet ready for that ultimate temptation.
 
Once your dog is reliably leaving treats you can add the leave command before you offer him the treat in your left hand.
 
4. Teaching your dog not to jump up at visitors.
 
Why is it useful?
 
Who doesn’t love to be greeted with the level of excitement and enthusiasm that only a dog can convey? But not everyone likes dogs and not all visitors arrive at our house dressed for an enthusiastic doggy welcome. 
 
How do you teach it?
 
Dogs love attention and unwittingly we show them that jumping up gets attention because we generally react by looking at them, touching them or speaking to them! Instead, stand completely still, looking elsewhere, and if necessary, fold your arms and turn away.
 
When all four of the dog’s paws hit the floor, reward the dog with treats, saying ‘off’. Gradually the dog will learn that jumping up is unrewarding, and will begin to understand the ‘off’ command. (Note, ‘off’ is used for this rather than ‘down’ as ‘down’ means lie down). The hard part now is to train the rest of the household and your visitors to behave in the same way!
 
5. Teaching your dog to catch a treat
 
Why is it useful?
 
This is really a fun trick but it can be useful as a different way to give your dog a treat, especially if they love the game, or if you have a slobbery eater and want to keep your hands dry. 
 
How do you teach it?
 
Some dogs are natural catchers but for some it takes a while to master catching. It is best to start with the dog in a sit as her head will already be tilted up. The first few times we just feed the dog a treat so they eventually start opening their mouth as your hand comes down.
 
To do this, hold the treat above the dog’s head and bring your hand down to her nose and mouth so she reaches up for the treat. Once she starts opening her mouth as your hand and treat come down, drop the treat into her mouth. You can then gradually increase the distance that you are dropping the treat.
 
Once your dog is reliably catching the treats with your hand above her head, you can start to change the angle that you drop the treat, and eventually start throwing the treat towards the dog. Don’t rush this and do remember to go back a stage if your dog starts failing too many catches. 

Add new comment