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24 Aug 2000

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Basic Commands For Your Dog

Once you've purchases a choke collar and leash for your puppy, you can start walking him and teaching him a few commands.

Heel is the very first command you need to teach your puppy. The heel command is used to keep a dog beside its owner. When your puppy learns how to heel properly, it won't pull on the leash.

To begin heeling, keep your puppy at your left side and start to walk. Then, call the puppy's name and say, 'Daisy, heel.' Give the command as you take the first step and then snap the lead so the dog moves.

Each time the puppy moves away from your left side, say 'Daisy, heel' and snap the lead. Be patient and keep your first few training sessions short--about 15 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day is enough. In time, you can increase the length of your training sessions. Use the choke only when you have to with as little force as possible. Try to use quick jerks rather than strong pressure. Remember to praise your puppy shamelessly when it stays by your side.

Eventually, practice walking in large circles (like a ring at a dog show), keeping your puppy by your left side. Wait until heel is learned before you move onto the next command, sit.

A dog that has been taught how to sit correctly sits at its owner's left side facing straight ahead. Eventually, your puppy will learn to heel by your side and then sit automatically when you stop walking.

To teach the Sit command, start by heeling the puppy at your left side. When you stop walking, give the Sit command. Place your left hand on the puppy's rear and guide it into a sitting position. Use your right hand to hold the lead so the puppy's head stays up. Let the puppy remain sitting for a moment then give the heel command and start walking again. Keep practicing and keep praising.

In time you can teach your puppy to obey the Sit command from any position.

Eventually, you can teach your puppy to remain in a seated position until you release it. To teach the stay command, place your puppy in the sitting position and tell it to stay. (Make sure your puppy is on the leash when you do this.) After you give the command, place the palm of your left hand in front of the puppy's muzzle and move a step or two away. Repeat the stay command--'Daisy, stay'--in firm voice.

Don't make your puppy stay very long at first, 10 or 15 seconds is good. Slowly increase the time of the stay and the distance you step away. Very well trained dogs only have to be told to stay once and will stay until their owners release them.

Like the sit command, the stand-stay is taught from the heel. To teach the stand-stay, slow your puppy down to a heel and give the command, 'Daisy, stand.' Then, "Daisy, stay.' Now block the puppy's sit by placing your left hand in front of the top of your puppy's right hind leg. (Remember you taught your puppy to sit automatically whenever you stop walking.) Gently block your puppy's sit. Then start walking again using the heel command and stop again using the stand-stay commands.

In time, your puppy will realize that when you stop walking, it should sit unless you tell it otherwise. Remember to praise, praise, praise.

Come is an important command for your puppy to learn. However, come works best if your puppy learns the other commands first. When your puppy is heeling at your side, step back and say, 'Daisy, come.' As you give the command, snap the lead and make the puppy turn around to its right while walking, so it's standing toward you. Then get the puppy to come toward you by gently tugging its lead. Give the puppy lots of praise.

In time, you and your puppy will be able to do this without a leash-you'll just step backward and issue the command and your puppy will turn and come.

To teach your puppy to lie down, sit it by your side. Kneel beside it and reach over its back with your left arm, taking hold of its upper left front leg. Then take its right front leg in your right hand. Tell the puppy, 'Daisy, down,' and guide it into the down position by easing its body down. Release your grasp when the puppy is down while saying, 'Daisy, down, stay!'

Try to get the puppy to stay for a few seconds before you release it. Get the dog to sit again and try once more. Once the puppy learns the command, you should be able to issue it and the puppy will lie at your side. Eventually, get the puppy to lie down and tell it to stay and walk away from it.

Obedience Class
Remember that training a puppy is time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, so try to be patient. Also, some dogs are much easier to train than others.

If you're really having a tough time getting your puppy to listen to you, consider enrolling it a dog obedience class. A professional trainer will know how to handle your particular dog. Ask a local breeder or your veterinarian to refer someone to you.



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