Crate Training Puppies

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Puppies

The internet is filled with advice on dog training. Everything from teaching a dog many complicated tricks to crate training puppies is covered somewhere online.

When following generic advice, always ensure that it is kind to your dog. Be careful not to believe advice simply because it is written or provided by a dog trainer. Dog training is unregulated in many parts of the world and like any other profession there are good and bad trainers and behaviorists.

Crate Types

There are three main types of crate available. None more suitable than the other for crate training puppies.

  • The metal crate is quite sturdy and escape proof, this type of crate however is not overly suitable for travel as it can be cumbersome and awkward. The metal crate also resembles a cage which can be a reason that some people avoid it.
  • A canvas crate is lighter and more aesthetically pleasing. These crates come in a variety of colors and close with a zip; the canvas crate is easily portable and lightweight. A determined dog can however chew its way out of a canvas crate. In my experience during everyday use the zip will eventually give way to wear and tear.
  • Solid plastic with a metal door is also a common crate type. Darker inside due to its solid design, this crate is a great hidey hole for a dog, this type of crate is often used for transporting a dog on aircraft travel.

A friend informed me recently that he was having trouble getting his puppy used to her crate. She became distressed and panicky when he closed the door, and this was causing problems when she had to be left for short periods. When I gave advice on how to rectify this he told me that advice on crate training puppies that he had read on the internet created in him a sense of urgency. As a result of reading internet advice my friend had created a crate training problem with his puppy.

The best advice that I can give on crate training puppies is to relax. It is much better to take a couple of extra weeks than to stress your dog out when he goes into the crate. Right from the beginning your puppy should only see the crate as his safe and comfortable bed. During the crate training process there should never be confinement or a rush to shut the puppy in.

Tips on crate training puppies

  • When you bring your new puppy home already have the crate ready for him.
  • Place a comfy bed, some toys, a drink and maybe some food treats into the crate.
  • Ensure that initially the crate is somewhere that your puppy would automatically want to lie. A place that is close to your relaxing area.
  • Always leave the crate door open initially. It is better to have a relaxed dog that chooses to go into the crate before you close the door.
  • Feed your puppy in the crate with the door open. He can associate it with pleasurable experiences.
  • You can throw tasty treats through the open door for your puppy to retrieve from the crate.

When your puppy is happily getting into the crate and settling on his own you can begin to close the door. If he shows any distress by the door closing then simply close it and open it again very quickly. You can utilize a stuffed Kong or similar for this. By giving your puppy something to do in the crate that will distract him from the door you are setting him up to pay little attention to the door at all.

If, like my friend you have got into the situation where your dog is worried or anxious about the crate just simply take the pressure off. Move the crate slightly and make it a comfy as possible then forget about it. Relax and don’t worry about getting your puppy into the crate at all. If you pay a lot of attention to the crate then your dog will think that the item is vitally important. This attention will add to the worry of a dog that is already anxious about the crate.

Making the crate comfortable and a positive experience will ensure that your puppy will enjoy the crate as easily as any other cozy bed.

How-To Stop Your Dog Barking on Walks

By Sally Gutteridge | Behavior , Posts

An adult dog that pulls and barks on his leash can be frustrating and difficult to handle. Often the barking is due to social inadequacy, frustration or a mixture of both.

If socialization is not carried out properly from puppyhood a dog can develop fear based problems. The worried dog will become anxious or agitated very quickly. Either as a form of defense or simply because he doesn’t know what else to do, this can result in your dog barking.

Dogs learn a lot about the world in the first few months of their lives. If this crucial time is not utilized properly a dog can become socially awkward at best and terrified of things in the worst case. Some dogs in shelters and rescue care have missed out on this social learning and can be difficult to rehome because of it.

Dog barking can seem random and unprovoked, but it is not. The dog that has worked himself up to a barking frenzy has gone through a range of feelings before arriving at the option to bark. The behavior may be established and need lots of work, but it can be improved.

If you have an adult dog barking on the end of a leash you must first work out the stimulus. What is the trigger to your dog barking? If it seems to be everything do not despair the behavior can be modified it will just take consistency.

There are steps that you can take to teach your dog that barking is not the best option.

Find the trigger

Take your dog into a very quiet area with little stimulus and simply watch him. He should hopefully appear quite relaxed. Observe his behavior and reward the relaxation with treats and gently praise his quietness. Then simply wait, and watch your dog whilst he looks around until something appears that may start your dog barking.

It is vitally important here, that you start to recognize when your dog begins to become aroused by the stimulus. His head will lift slightly and he will focus directly on the stimulus, he will then stop responding to your voice. A low growl may follow as a prelude to your dog barking.

By this point it is too late to intervene in the behavior. You cannot train a dog that is so aroused by a trigger that he has lost complete awareness of you. So don’t try, just take him away from the situation. The point of this exercise is for you to learn where to begin the training session and to recognize your dog’s point of arousal.

Start small

There is absolutely no point to taking your dog into a situation where he feels that he needs to bark and then asking him to stop. By flooding the dog with stimulus you will be teaching him to ignore your voice and attempts to calm him.

Begin by rewarding relaxation in your dog. Watch his body language; if he is relaxed reward it.

Take him back to a quiet area and this time your task is to avoid your dog barking. So observe him carefully and continue to treat relaxed behavior. If something comes into the area that may cause a bark reaction then it is up to you to keep him relaxed with your treats and calm words. The trick here is to reinforce the behavior that you would like to establish in place of your dog barking. Do this by reward and if your dog is showing even the smallest focus on the trigger simply put more distance between you and it. Walk your dog away far enough from the trigger that he can relax.

By doing this you are teaching relaxation and with this method carried out consistently you will be able to get closer to stimulus as you progress. Vary your training treats to keep the dogs interest and always reward him for looking towards you whilst you are out. When he sees a trigger and looks directly towards you he is reassuring himself and looking for a treat. Reward with a treat and he will repeat the behavior.

Remember that dog training doesn’t always run smoothly and there will be times that you don’t catch your dog quickly enough to prevent your dog barking. If this does happen just create a distance, take a deep breath, wait for your dog to relax and start again.

Stranger Danger: Advice on How to Train Your Dog

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

Many parks and recreation grounds have their particular group. The same group of people that wander around daily together whilst their lucky dogs run and socialize together, the dogs and people become friends and everyone wins.

Unfortunately in many parks there is also often the dangerous stranger. The regular walker who fancies himself (or herself) as the next charismatic well marketed celebrity dog trainer. Usually this individual is seen as somewhat of a nuisance; particularly to people that know the fundamentals of positive dog training. Unsolicited dog training advice is inconvenient, often incorrect and sometimes dangerous.

As new and naive dog owners, we are often pleased to receive any advice given with the aim of improving our dogs behavior. There are risks however involved with accepting and acting upon random advice. After all we wouldn’t accept advice on bringing up our children from strangers so why how to train your dog.

There are many dog training methods floating around in the average dog walking area. These range from hitting your dog with a rolled up newspaper to flicking your heel behind you to kick a poor unsuspecting dog. The kicking is a theory I have recently heard on how to train your dog to walk at heel. How the poor creature is supposed to make that connection is beyond me.

It is usual to hear the term “dominant” and “submissive” whilst out walking too. These terms are overused and often offered as an inaccurate description of whatever some poor dog has decided to do at the time of observation. Often these terms are also accompanied by a statement that an owner has to “be the boss” or “show the dog who is in charge”.

Show him whose boss!

Dominance is an unproven theory on how to train your dog, often and unfortunately this theory can also be quite unkind to dogs. Unsurprising for it is dog training based on a belief that the dog is always looking out for a way to take over the household.

Based on studies on behavior within wolf packs, the dominance theory advocates that every unhelpful dog behavior means that he is trying to occupy the position of leader within the “pack”. So when your dog pulls on the leash he is trying to physically lead, when he stares at your food he is not respecting your leadership, and when he jumps up he is trying to get close to your face to establish dominance.

Theories that aim to show you how to train your dog by dominance range from pretending to eat from the dogs bowl to lying in the dog bed.

Many spin off dog training techniques have appeared loosely based on the theory of dominance. Leadership and being the boss are two of them. Unfortunately for the poor dog’s any advice on establishing dominance often involves physical and/or psychological harm. The alpha roll being one of them, the owner is encouraged to roll a dog on its back to establish dominance. So a confused dog, confronted and rolled over by a misinformed owner is the result.

The truth

The truth behind this theory is that dogs do not want to rule. They do not look for weakness in their human being in order to attempt world domination. Training by trying to keep a dominant role is ridiculous. The dog will not understand what you are doing. You would be speaking to your dog in a language even further removed that the species distance between you and him already. If anyone offers you advice on how to train your dog involving any kind of dominance theory or showing him his place, please for your own and your dog’s sake walk away.

The only way to understand your dog is to accept that he learns by reinforcement from you, the people around you and his environment. If you reward helpful behavior then you are teaching him to repeat it. Similarly if you reward unhelpful behavior he will also repeat it, because he has learned that it is beneficial to him. Put some time into learning how to train your dog with kindness and positive reinforcement. Work out which behavior you may be keeping active by an inadvertent reward such as attention. Work with your dog, not against him with understanding and a mutual respect.

What is a Dog Whisperer?

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

It is a term often used, dog whisperer. Giving the impression that communication with a canine is something of a rare achievement. A basic internet search will provide one with plentiful dog expert’s that offer advice and label themselves a dog whisperer.

Let’s face it; you know your dog best. You spend every day with him; therefore you are best placed to work out why he behaves a certain way.

Admittedly the humble dog is another species. Despite being genetically different to us human beings, parallels can be drawn with our behavior which may surprise you. Before you take the word of any dog whisperer, consider the similarities between us.


We both need motivation to perform at our best level.

People that are paid well and appreciated by their employers will be keen and interested to perform well. Children that are offered reward for good school results are inclined to study harder.

Dogs that are offered a reward which makes them happy, whether in the form of food or a toy are motivated to learn. It has been proven repeatedly that dogs learn the best when they have prior knowledge of a desired reward.

Positive experience

We both thrive in positivity.

The human being will want to repeat a positive experience. It is within our natures to seek out activities that make us happy. We enjoy social contact with other human beings and enjoy contact with other species. We also feel proud when appreciated by the people that we love and respect which makes us want to repeat the behavior that earned such respect.

Your family dog loves positive interaction with you and the rest of his human family. He will find enjoyment when you are pleased with him and will want to please you further by repeating the behavior that prompted your pleasure. By nature your dog will also want to be around other dogs.

The only exception to the happily social canine is the dog that has not been properly socialized. A dog that has not had contact with other dogs may show fear behaviors including aggression. If you have a dog like this and need help, research a local dog behaviorist. A good and well educated animal behaviorist will often avoid an egotistical term such as the dog whisperer.

Stress reaction and confidence

We can both suffer from stress overload

Our performance falters under stressful conditions. The human being can cope with a certain amount of stress and even thrive under it. If a manageable stress level is stretched further and we cannot cope then our performance will nosedive. Too much pressure, taking us beyond our personal capability will cause overload and leave us unable to perform, or learn anything at all.

As people we often learn better when our confidence is high. Feeling confident can lead us to believe that we are able to take on the world and win.

Inexperienced dog trainers can often place unmanageable demands on a dog. By asking too much of the canine during training sessions and not consolidating previous learning any trainer can cause their dog stress. A stressed dog will not learn. He will simply be unhappy and attempt to leave the situation. This unhappiness and sometimes fear, can be interpreted by a vexed and poorly educated trainer as unwillingness, or even worse dominant behavior. A self-titled dog whisperer that has received little formal education can easily use this theory to encourage others to misunderstand their own dogs in the name of dog training.

In professional and properly educated dog training situations care is taken to keep the dog happy and the training undemanding. By asking too much of any dog, the trainer knows that he will simply over faze it. A good and effective dog trainer will know the dog’s personal limits. The excellent trainer will teach a dog something in careful stages keeping canine confidence high and setting the dog up for success throughout.

Golden Retriever Puppy Training

By Sally Gutteridge | Breeds , Posts , Puppies

The golden retriever is a nice dog to raise and train. Resembling a bear cub as a puppy the retriever will grow into a loyal and humorous companion with stunning looks. This breed of dog is rarely complicated and usually responds well to praise and food reward. Originally bred to retrieve game birds and waterfowl the retriever is often seen proudly, yet gently, carrying a toy or shoe.

If you have decided to introduce a golden retriever puppy into your home then you are in for a treat. Watching this breed of dog grow into a mature adult canine is fantastic. The retriever is honest and faithful. He is a dog of little complication and you will enjoy him.

To help your new puppy grow into a well-rounded adult you will need to provide him with everything a puppy needs. Golden retriever puppy training is just the tip of the iceberg.


Socialization is important for any puppy. The golden retriever is generally nice in nature and friendly to people and other animals. To ensure that your puppy stays this way, you should introduce regular contact with as many new experiences as possible. Any dog if not socialized from a young age can develop fear based issues such as spook barking or being scared of other dogs.  Some of the things to include in your golden retriever puppy training when socializing your dog are listed below;

  • Other dogs
  • Other animals
  • Children of all ages
  • Vehicle travel
  • Loud noises (to prepare for fireworks)
  • Household appliances

Dog training establishments often organize puppy socialization classes. Frequently these classes are catered to all breeds of puppy and not simply golden retriever puppy training. You could take your dog along and allow him to spend some time with other puppies of his own age, all shapes and sizes of dog. By attending these organized groups your dog will learn how to interact with other dogs and this is crucial to his development.

Leash walking

The main thing to remember with golden retriever puppy training is that your small and light puppy will grow into a big strong dog. You may be able to lift him at the moment and jumping up can seem cute. A large untrained retriever can be weighty and quick to use it to his advantage. Sitting on you or jumping for food with no malice can still become a nuisance. So it is a good idea to work on the behaviors that are most likely to become a problem as he grows.

The retriever really is a lovely breed of dog. He has a huge smile which he is not afraid to use and is an easy going pet even from a young age.

Leash walking is an important part of golden retriever puppy training. It is amazing how many adult dogs that have always pulled on the leash are expected just to “heel” on command. When he was a puppy the retriever pulled, as he grew the pulling became stronger but still not much of a problem. Suddenly a dog of 40kg dragging his owner along seems to come as a surprise.

Introducing the collar

Introducing your puppy to a collar can be a little traumatic, but he will soon get used to it. By using positive dog training you can associate food reward, to improve your dog’s acceptance.

The following steps are a guide, to golden retriever puppy training, when introducing the collar for the first time;

  • Have a handful of small dog treats available and your puppy’s new collar
  • Place the collar on the ground and give your dog chance to look at it, reward him when he does.
  • Now pick the collar up and show it to him and reward him
  • Place the collar very loosely around your dog’s neck and give praise and treats continuously to prevent distress over the collar.
  • When the collar is on simply ignore it and any scratching or attention that the dog pays to it.
  • Play a game with your dog and give him lots of praise and reward then take the collar off
  • Repeat this over a number of sessions until eventually you can leave his collar on for longer periods without him paying any attention to it.

Stages based on the ones above can be used to introduce your puppy to many new things. Remember to keep things positive, reward based and fun. Positivity is the only technique to use within golden retriever puppy training.

How to train a puppy to come

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Puppies

The owner of a new puppy has an almost blank canvas. A dog learns from the moment it is born and all of a puppy’s experiences determine how it will be as an older dog.

For this reason, dogs that are raised in puppy mills, or farms, and sold in pet shops can arrive at their new homes with fear or socialization issues. Often a new owner cannot understand why his puppy appears frightened or nervous. This insecure reaction from a puppy will affect everything new that it experiences. The puppy mill dog may not have seen outside of a kennel or passed a concrete wall at any point in its short life.

So when researching the best place to get a puppy from, it is advisable to find a reputable breeder or good rescue center. Both will have worked hard to ensure the puppy and its litter-mates are as socialized as possible. They will also be able to give you valuable information such as how to train a puppy to come and suitable feeding schedules.

A puppy with few fear issues is generally much easier to train on recall than an untrained adult dog. When learning how to train a puppy to come, you are not dealing with the unhelpful behaviors already learned by an older dog. To train a puppy to come when you call it is imperative to use positive reinforcement and reward.

If you offer tiny slivers of meat to a young puppy he will follow you. Firstly, you are his security and secondly you taste nice. By learning how to train a puppy to come when your dog is very young you will avoid the awkward unleashing of an older dog.

I have heard owners in the past say that their puppy is too young to go off the leash. I don’t actually believe that a puppy is ever too young to be off leash. By keeping their dog restrained until adolescence any owner can easily set himself up for a failed recall. This is because they are adding the new excitement of free running to the dogs already challenging teenage behavior stage. The sooner the better is my opinion when practicing how to train a puppy to come back when called.

Here are some tips based in positive learning for letting your puppy off the leash for the first time.

  • Take treats, small and delicious food reward will motivate your puppy to stay near you.
  • Walk quickly away from the puppy yet still offer plenty of reward, this will keep you interesting.
  • Change direction regularly, this will encourage your puppy to focus on you.
  • Use a toy if your puppy likes them, something squeaky that you can use to keep his attention.
  • Utilize your voice, a higher pitched voice than usual will keep the attention of your puppy.
  • Have a helper hold your puppy and go a few steps away then call him, give him a treat when he gets to you.
  • Call your puppy between two people both rewarding his return with a treat and plenty of praise.

Walking in new and unfamiliar areas will increase your puppy’s need to feel secure and as you are his security he will stick close to you. This need will assist greatly in learning how to train your puppy to come.

Keep in mind that it is important to speak to your veterinarian about vaccinations and associated risks before introducing your dog to the outside world. Areas of high canine population and high disease risk the vet may encourage full vaccination before outdoor walking. In this case it is important to do what you can in the house and garden.

When researching how to train a puppy to come when called it is important to be very careful. There is a lot of uneducated dog training advice on both the internet and in some actual dog training establishments. Look for advice that only promotes positive dog training and reward based reinforcement techniques. Be careful of any advice mentioning dominance, punishment or aversion. None of these methods are fair to dogs or proven to work long term. Remember if it makes you uncomfortable and your puppy unhappy do not do it. Puppy and all dog training should be positive, fun, reward based and progressive.

Play with your dog … It’s important!

By Sally Gutteridge | Behavior , Posts , Training , Tricks

Playing with your dog will build the relationship between you. It will use his mind in order to enable him to settle when you need him to, and an enthusiastic game will certainly be fun for both of you. The home that hosts multi dogs automatically provides stimulation for the animals by allowing interaction with each other. Single dogs benefit greatly from the interaction and stimulation they get when you play with your dog.

Play is beneficial to you as an owner too. Tug of war with a delighted and enthusiastic Staffordshire bull terrier on the other end of a tatty rope toy really is a great way to let off some steam after a hard day. The enthusiasm of an excited dog is infectious. They are in their element whilst being given individual attention and their happiness spreads. Any owner that walks through the door after a bad day to be met by a loyal and overjoyed canine companion cannot fail to appreciate the shift in mood that their dog provides.

Play is a great way to instill general control and training into your dog. Dog training games involving commands such as wait, sit and leave can all be taught when playing with a toy. Your dog is likely to learn well when the lesson is based in play. Happiness and positivity encourage thorough learning. This happy and eager state of mind is what clicker training and other positive reinforcement techniques are based upon.

There are many ways that you can play with your dog. Certain breeds enjoy games that are catered to their instinct. An example of instinct based play is a Labrador that retrieves the ball, endlessly asking for just one more throw. The springer spaniel bred for sniffing out game birds in bushy areas will really enjoy interaction based around searching for her toy.

Playing with your dog is great. Whether you are throwing a ball, pulling on a toy, teaching him to jump into your arms or simply playing chase you will both thoroughly enjoy yourselves. There is no room to be self-conscious when you play with your dog. Canine games are great for stress relief.

Play with your dog … some ideas :

Play ball. This is great for dogs that sniff around and use their noses a lot. Enhance a normal game of fetch by introducing some techniques often used when training search dogs. Hide the ball somewhere where the dog has to work by sniffing to find it. Then guide him into the area watching him follow his excellent sense of smell until he finds the toy.

You can play this inside or out. By shutting your dog outside a room you can go in with the ball and hide it. When you let him into the room he will search until he finds his toy. Vary things by placing the toy at different heights and touching a lot of the room on the way around. You will be creating disturbance for him to sniff at.

Scatter feeding is great for a hungry dog. Throw treats or his dried food around and he will become very excited wondering where the next sweetie will land. You can ask things of him when doing this, practice control like sit or down before throwing the treat.

Tug of war is another good game to play, a couple of rope toys and some treats and you can have a grand old time. Practice control by regularly offering either a treat or the other toy as a bartering tool. Your dog should easily let go when you are offering a swap. If he doesn’t just stop playing and this will let him know that he must swap or the game ends. Let him win the toy sometimes too, it will increase his confidence and keep him interested.

Activity toys are great to encourage a dog to play alone when you are busy. A ball or similar that can be stuffed with treats is a wonderful occupier for a food loving dog. An activity ball will be bashed around merrily until empty so probably best used outside or when the dog is alone.

If you are feeling stressed or just a little sad, play with your dog for a few minutes and it will put an entire new slant on the day.

Bang! How to Teach a Dog to Play Dead

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Tricks

The bang trick is great fun to watch and perform. A dog that is taught properly to respond to “Bang” as a command word will drop to the ground, when shot with a gun created from his handlers fingers, and stay perfectly still until a release cue is given.

This trick is very impressive when your dog can do it well. The skill used in how to teach a dog to play dead is mainly timing and reinforcement. It is a brilliant trick to teach with a clicker for this reason alone. We are however going to utilize a cue word rather than the clicker to teach this trick. By reinforcing with a word you will learn a lot about your own timing when giving commands to your dog.

Whilst showing you how to teach a dog to play dead we will use the cue word “good” and offer a treat as a follow up action. Your dog will quickly associate the word with his reward. The cue should be given at exactly the time your dog is carrying out the behavior that you would like to encourage.

Positive dog training

Modern, kind and motivational is a fantastic description of positive dog training.

During the process of how to teach a dog to play dead, you too can learn. There are certain personal rules that professional dog trainers follow in every training session. Whilst teaching your dog this trick, we will be following two of these rules.

The importance of timing during positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is the act of reinforcement with reward, of a behavior offered by your dog. Because a dog can offer more than one behavior at once, it can be easy to reinforce the wrong one. An example is a dog that sits and barks can easily associate a reward for either the sit or the bark. As the one teaching your dog, it is your responsibility to time the reinforcement to pinpoint exactly the behavior you want. Admittedly this timing is not as easy as it sounds.

How to use your voice to get the best results from your dog

We will be using only two words when teaching your dog this trick. These words are “good” and “bang”. One of the biggest dog training mistakes is to talk too much. If you are talking throughout the training session your voice will begin to have no effect.  It will simply sound to your dog, like a radio in the background. So challenge yourself to only say these two words whilst teaching your dog this trick.

How to teach a dog to play dead in easy stages

  • Prepare with small tasty treats and show your dog that you have them
  • When he sees the treats your dog may offer the behaviors that he has already learned, if one of them is to lie down then pinpoint this behavior with the word “good” and give him a treat
  •  If this behavior is not pre learned simply wait. Your dog will lie down eventually then use the word “good” and give him a treat.
  • You dog will soon associate the down position with “good” and a treat
  • Now he knows that the down position is beneficial begin to withhold the word “good” and allow him to work out what to do next. He will quickly attempt to get nearer to the floor.
  • Every time he offers a behavior that seems to lead to him lying on his side reinforce with “good” and give him a reward.
  • Keep this up and he will soon learn that lying on his side provokes the word and reward.
  • Now gradually introduce the word “bang” and the “finger gun” Use it as a prelude to “good” and his reward, you are associating the word to his lying down position.
  • Progress by withholding the two words and reward ever so slightly until your dog lies completely still on his side. Then further the progression by bringing the word “bang” and the “finger gun” forward so that you offer it as your dog begins to lie down. Keep the word “good” and reward for prolonging the position.

Depending on your individual dog this could take two to ten short sessions, every canine learns to a different timescale. If you pay attention to your timing, you will be able to see whether your dog has interpreted your reinforcement command, whilst you learn how to teach a dog to play dead, like a professional.

Dog Training Commands

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

Dog training commands are widespread and varied. The humble and loyal canine is employed within so many roles that the list of dog training commands is getting lengthier all the time.

In reality whatever we train our dogs to do can be called anything at all. We can ask a dog to sit by using the word “egg” if we want to, as long as we have shown the dog what the word means. Generally though the commands we teach to our dogs are far more sensible than “egg”

During competition training particular dog training commands are used. Dogs that carry out specific roles also have their own cue words. Here are some examples of dog training commands used within the English language on a daily basis.

Used in formal obedience and general pet obedience training;

  • Sit, probably the most used command, strangers are not adverse to walking up to any dog and asking for a sit response, and more often than not the dog will perform correctly.
  • Heel, asking the dog to walk at heel both on and off leash.
  • Down, used to ask the dog to lie down on command
  • Wait, can be a prelude to another command
  • Stay, similar to wait, sometimes used differently dependent on training establishment, the stay is often used for longer term out of sight stays, where the handler can expect the dog to wait for them for several minutes.
  • Come, recall, the command used to call a dog back to his handler and the one that many can struggle with.
  • Off, particularly useful for dogs that are disposed to jumping on people and furniture.

Flyball and agility training is often based around the dog training commands;

  • Up, jumping over things
  • Over, jumps and catwalk/a frames
  • Through, used to send the dog through the agility tunnel or tire jump
  • Steady, to slow an enthusiastic dog whist competing and agility circuit
  • Wait, used to steady a dog and prevent it missing crucial touch points on agility equipment
  • Fetch, a command used in flyball to encourage the dog to fetch the ball from the dispensing box. Very few formal command words are used in flyball either competition or training as the dog is encouraged to be fast and keen, the atmosphere and adrenaline at a flyball tournament is electrifying. During this activity, handlers often tell their dogs to “go” “fetch” and “come” or “come out”

Working dogs are often taught to respond to the generic obedience commands. Role dependent commands are also introduced; some of them are shown here;

  • Seek, a search dog command often used with military arms and explosive search dogs
  • Find, another search based command; this is used by tracking dog handlers as well as drugs detection dog handlers.
  • Find body, Search and rescue dog command. The target is referred to as the “body” often in these circles.
  • What is it, is used by hearing dog trainers to encourage the trained dog to lead to the source of sound after a positive alert
  • Forward, used by guide dog trainers when teaching the dog to lead a blind person
  • Fetch, Used by physical assistance dog trainers as a prefix to anything from phone, walking stick, coat, food item.
  • Chase or attack, Used in military dog training on release of a protection dog to detain an escaping suspect

Dog training commands vary, depending on the training establishment, the particular dog and the role employed for. Some of the commands used when teaching our dogs tricks are great fun;

  • Speak, barking on command
  • Quiet, cessation of barking
  • Bang, feign shooting the dog with our fingers
  • Sleep, feign a deep sleep
  • Spin, twist the dog around in a circle
  • Through, teaching the dog to run through our legs
  • Over, teaching the dog to jump a raised leg
  • Weave, a great trick where the dog walks through our legs as we walk
  • Wave, teach a sitting dog to wave or high five with one paw
  • Look left/right, reinforcement of the dog looking in a certain direction.
  • Stand tall, stand as tall as you can with your front paws up

Trick commands are great fun and can be used when reinforcing a broad range of impressive behaviors. You can even teach your dog to respond to dog training commands uniquely in a completely different language. You dog will relate to the tone and pitch of your voice rather than the word itself.

How to Train Your Dog to Sit using Positive Reinforcement

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Training

As a new dog owner it is perfectly normal to see your recent addition to the family as a complete mystery. Particularly with so much, and often conflicting, dog training advice available.

It is true that we are a completely different species to the canine and that we don’t speak the same language. It is possible however to communicate perfectly well and develop a great relationship with your new dog.

Dog training

Even when researching the command that we all initially teach our dog, how to train your dog to sit, you will encounter many training methods and lots of different advice. This advice can range from;

  • Push the dog’s rear to the ground
  • Lure with a treat
  • Punish if the dog doesn’t sit on command – (even a tug on the dogs collar is punishment)

To be a good dog trainer and kind to your new canine ignore all of the above. Methods that involve punishment are dated and unfair to the dog, any dog training type that is based on dominance and wolf behavior is also inaccurate. The only ethical way to train your dog is with kindness and positive reinforcement. Teach your dog with a suitable reward to ensure his attention and motivation during training sessions.

Reinforce with reward

Positive reinforcement is based on rewarding a behavior with pinpoint accuracy, often with a treat or toy. It can be very difficult to give your dog either of these rewards quickly therefore difficult to pinpoint a particular behavior. So we use a cue word or other sound to show the dog that this particular behavior has provided the reward.

It is fairly easy to teach your dog to associate a stimulus or sound with reward. In the early 1900’s Scientist Ivan Pavlov learned that dogs in his laboratory would salivate at the sound of a bell. This was after a short time ringing the bell before meals because they associated the bell sound with feeding time.

In modern dog training we utilize this association to teach our dogs how we would like them to behave. Clicker training is a prime example of this, the dog is taught to associate the click with a food reward. The click sound can then be used to pinpoint a behavior with accuracy and show the dog exactly which behavior earned him the reward.

How to train your dog to sit-the importance of timing

When working out how to train your dog to sit using reward and reinforcement timing is crucial. If your dog offers three different behaviors in succession it is easy to reinforce the wrong one. Positive reinforcement is based on accurate timing for reward. So if you are training your dog to sit and within two minutes he sits, jumps up and barks it is easy to reinforce any of those with inaccurate timing.

So to train your dog to sit for a reward be careful with your timing. It is easy for your dog to associate anything he is doing at the time with reinforcement. If you say good boy and give him a treat for any behavior he will always repeat that behavior in the hope of getting a treat.

How to train your dog to sit:

  • Decide on the association sound or word that you will use as a reinforcement tool (The prelude to the treat)
  • Show your dog a reward, something that he really likes and that will motivate him.
  • When you have his attention with the reward simply wait whilst he works out how he can get the treat from you.
  • Your dog may offer behaviors that he has already learned, if he does just ignore them
  • Eventually your dog will sit to try and work out what to do next, immediately reinforce with your association sound (click) or word. Then give him his treat.
  • Repeat this and each time you will see that your dog is offering the sit sooner. Your dog has learned to sit by working it out for himself in order to gain a reward.
  • Now you can introduce the command word sit, your dog will soon learn that this particular word is a prompt for the sit response.

When your dog learns with positive reinforcement he has to really think. The thinking involved ensures that your dog learns thoroughly and effectively. Each command you teach your dog by using this method will stay in his mind forever, for it is learned with motivation and a pleasurable experience.