Basic Dog Training for Your Inquisitive Canine
Hey there inquisitive dog lover! Welcome to session 2 of our Back to School for Dogs Too basic dog training series. If you’re just joining us, check out session 1 for tips and lessons on getting started. If you’re continuing on, we say “Yay!” click-treat, and thank you for participating.
For this specific installment of basic dog training techniques, we will be focusing on “Sit” and “Down.” As a certified trainer, I have come to lump these, along with eye-contact, as the main trifecta of dog behaviors. If your inquisitive canine can master these, then you will not only set yourselves up for success, but will also create a solid foundation for many other behaviors and situations.
Here are basic dog training techniques you can learn from home. Here we go!
- Wait for your dog to sit. As soon as his or her rump hits the floor/ground, “click and treat” (C/T) or use your marker word, as explained and outlined in Session 1 of our Back-to-School program.
- If your dog doesn’t sit automatically, hold a treat at the tip of his or her nose and move it up and over his or her head, back towards his or her rear end. Your dog‘s head should look up while shifting his or her weight back, ending up in a “sit.”
- Once your dog starts sitting reliably every time, you can add in the cue word “sit.” Practice doing this 5-10 times: saying the word “sit,” pause to see if he or she does, if not use the food lure then C/T.
- Repeat this until you no longer need the food lure.
- Begin with a treat in one hand, placing it on the tip of your dog‘s nose, slowly move it downward towards the ground, guiding him or her into a “down” position. As soon as your dog lies down C/T.
- Repeat this “lure and reward” technique until your dog does the motion reliably, without pausing. When he or she does the motion reliably, you can begin to add the cue word “down,” before luring.
- Say the word “down,” pause to see if your dog lies down, if he or she does then C/T, if not, then use the lure-reward technique to move him or her into the position, then C/T.
Repeat the following sequence for both Sit & Down:
- Say it: “Sit” or “Down”
- Show it: Lure
- Pay it: Click-Treat
As your dog begins offering the behavior reliably, you can begin to fade out the food lure, using only your hand signal as a prompt. Still C/T after your dog lies down, and reward!
Tips & Troubleshooting:
- Repeat this sequence until your dog is following reliably, then begin to fade out the food lure, using only your hand signal.
- Practice “Sit” & “Down” in a variety of locations. Even 2-3 times a day for 2-3 minutes can be very helpful.If your dog jumps up to get the treat, lure him or her back into the down position before giving it to him. (You don’t need to “click” again.)
- If your dog is having trouble lying down, try starting him or her from the sitting position. An alternative is to C/T for smaller, baby-steps towards the final down position – head focused downward, elbows bent, chest on ground, etc.
- Remember to use the cue only once!
- Wanna advance your skills? Use only the verbal or visual cue in different locations with different distractions. To “test” if your dog understands, ask a stranger to give the cue!
For a fun way to practice both “Sit” & “Down” at the same time, try”Puppy Push-Ups”!
Remember to check back for upcoming Back to School and basic dog training posts (or subscribe to our blog), to keep up with behavior momentum and fluency!
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Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page.
Great insights on homeschooling!
How do these methods work for adult dogs?
Hey there, Alex. Great question. These techniques and training steps work great for dogs of all ages. Give it a try and let us know how things go! Cheers and woofs to you and your inquisitive canine.
How do you work with an elderly dog that has recently lost his hearing and never been clicker trained?
Hi, Kathleen – great question! And bravo for wanting to think about enriching your senior dog’s life. For hard of hearing animals, you can use a different type of bridging stimulus such as a penlight. (Just refrain from something too bright shining in his eyes). This is referred to as, “flash and treat.” Hand signals will also help, as do vibration collars (not shock collars). The Deaf Dogs organization has some great information. Let us know how things go! http://www.deafdogs.org/training/clicker.php