Having a well-mannered pet is the dream of every dog lover. However, dogs don’t come with instructions and they aren’t born knowing how to behave in every setting. Teaching your puppy or adult dog the basics of sitting, staying, and laying down not only keeps her safe if she’s outside in your yard, it also makes her a better companion when she’s at home in your house.

Basic training for your dog starts with you, and your willingness to work with your pet regularly.

Basic Training, Part 1
Teaching Your Dog to Sit

Place a leash or halter on your dog or puppy and make her stand on the ground in front of you. Step on the lead so that your hands are free and she is not able to run off. Make sure all of your pet’s attention is focused on you by talking to her, calling her name, or holding one of her favorite toys in your hand.

When she is closely watching what you are doing, hold a doggy treat just out of reach of her nose so that she is tilting her head slightly back to look at the treat.

As your dog looks at the treat, say “Sit” in a firm, but kind, tone and move the treat toward her forehead so that she is forced to sit back on her haunches.

If she sits, immediately give your dog the treat and praise her, petting her for good behavior. If she chooses to grab for the treat, move the hand holding the treat behind your back and use your other hand to make her stand quietly in front of you again.

You may need to gently push down on her haunches to show her what to do several times before she understands. 

Repeat placing the treat in front of her nose and saying “Sit” until she accomplishes the task several times in a row. Reward your dog and praise her immediately every time she sits on command.

As you train her to sit, gradually start removing the treat during sessions, using just your hand and voice commands. Eventually, you won’t need the treat at all to make your dog obey.

Don’t make your teaching sessions longer than 20 minutes at a time. Canine behavior experts for the ASPCA state that to train dogs for longer than 20 minutes causes them to lose their attention span and they won’t retain as much information as they do during shorter time periods.

Remember that training your dog or puppy is just like training a human baby. Your pet is going to make mistakes and there are going to be setbacks. Practicing patience, consistency, and kindness while working with your furry companion gives you the best chance for success. 

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