Training Your Puppy-Sit, Stay, FocusDawn Greer
Training Your Puppy
Training your puppy is a fantastic bonding experience for both you and him. Your puppy will learn to trust you and you will learn to understand him better, making the training all that bit easier. Puppies start learning from birth and despite their relatively short attention spans, you can expect them to begin to learn some basic obedience commands such as “sit,” and “stay,” as young as 7 to 8 weeks of age.
With some patience, plenty of treats and attention, you will have him trained to do basic commands in no time.
Dawn Greer, Agility Trainer
Dawn has been competing in agility for 15 years. She has competed with 8 dogs of different heights and breeds and has competed at Grade 7 Green star/Championship level at both IKC and KC.
She has represented Ireland in agility at Crufts, World Agility Championships and the European Open.
Dawn is an avid dog lover, living with 9 four legged companions, 5 of which are retired, 3 competing and her new puppy, Wow. She loves training dogs and giving the best advice on taking care of a new pup.
Methods of Training
There are three basic methods of training puppies-luring, shaping and capturing.
This method is where you use a treat or a toy to show your puppy the position you want them to be in. For example, if I want my puppy, Wow, to walk between my legs, I would simply use a treat to lure her there.
With shaping, you don’t teach them what you want them to do but rather break it down into smaller steps that build it up over time. So, if I wanted to teach Wow to roll over for example, I would lure her all the way over, or I would shape it by starting with her already lying on the ground.
This method is where you teach your dog to perform a natural behaviour on cue. So if I wanted Wow to sit, I would wait for her to sit down naturally without any giving her any prompting ot guidance. Once she has sat down, I say ‘sit,’ and then reward her immediately afterwards
Teaching Puppy to ‘Sit’
- Stand in front of your puppy holding some of his favourite food or treats.
- Wait for him to sit and reward him with a treat.
- Then step backwards or to the side, encouraging him to stand, and wait for him to sit again.
- Reward him another treat as soon as they sit.
- Repeat these steps, and after a few times you can begin saying “sit” right as he begins to sit.
Benefits of Sitting:
Sitting has many uses; it can eradicate bad behaviour as well as keeping your dog politely at your side. Training your dog to sit helps to maintain a calm, controlled behaviour many pet parents want.
Teaching Puppy to ‘Stay’
A puppy who understands the “stay” prompt will continue sitting in position until you instruct him to get up by giving a different prompt, called the “release word.”
- First, teach your puppy the release word, such as ‘come’ or ‘okay.’
- Stand with your puppy, throw a treat on the floor, say your release word as he goes forward to retrieve the treat.
- Repeat these steps a few times until you can say the release word first, and then throw the treat AFTER he begins to move. This teaches your pup that the release word signifies he must move his feet.
- When your puppy understands the release word and how to sit on demand, place him in staying position and give him a treat.
- Pause, give him another treat for staying in position, and then release him.
- Slowly raise the amount of time you wait between treats.
- If your puppy gets up or tries to walk away before you can give the release word, don’t give out to him. He might not be ready to stay for that long, so continue training in shorter intervals.
- Once your puppy is able to stay in position for several seconds, you can begin adding distance.
- Place him in position, say “stay,” take one step back, then step forward to give a treat, and say your release word.
- You can then continue to increase the amount of steps. We recommend practising this while you are facing him as well as when your back in turned.
Teaching Puppy to ‘Focus’
Your dog needs to know to focus on you when outside. You don’t want your puppy to be pulling you on his lead or essentially end up walking you (rather than you walking him!)
- With your puppy on his leash in a quiet area, use a treat or a toy to capture his attention.
- Everytime they look at you, make sure to reward them. This will encourage them to focus on you when out for his walks and not to pull on his leash.
- Begin using a cue word. My cue word is ‘touch’ so everytime I want Wow to shift focus on me again, I say ‘touch’ for her to touch my hand.
- Build this method up over time and eventually you won’t need to lure him in with a treat any longer.