Teach your puppy to sit and lie down
My response to these people is always with a counter question – have you taught your puppy to do that?
Surprisingly many new dog owners believe that puppies can do a lot without having to be taught anything. It is of course wrong, everything you want a puppy to be able to do, you have to teach it. The puppy can't do anything without being taught. A dog will not do anything on command without being taught to do so by means of rewards and positive reinforcement.
Teach the puppy commands
That a dog can sit and lie on command is very practical in many cases. These are also the commands that a dog owner uses the most during the dog's life, I would think. In addition to teaching the puppy specific commands such as sit and lie down, you also improve communication between dog and owner during this training.
Everything you teach a dog really gives more than just what you teach it, it teaches dog and dog owner to communicate. This is one of the reasons why I always advocate that you should teach your dog as much as possible, even unnecessary things such as different types of party tricks or circus arts.
Train the puppy in short sessions
The training sessions that will teach the puppy to lie down should be short. It should be a matter of a couple of minutes per occasion, but preferably several times a day. The reason they should be short is because a puppy's learning ability and motivation quickly run out. It's fun for a minute, then something else is more fun. It is relatively easy to teach a puppy to sit or lie on command, as long as you do it right.
This is how you teach the puppy to sit
Have a treat in your hand that you draw the puppy's attention to. Make sure to have the puppy in front of you at first. Slowly but clearly pull the hand with treats up over the puppy's head. The puppy will then follow your hand with its nose and when your hand is a bit behind the puppy's head, the puppy will lower its bottom to the ground to reach your hand. Then you reward by praising the puppy while giving it the treat. Repeat the exercise and soon the puppy understands what your hand movement means and sits immediately because it gives the puppy its treat. When your puppy sits every time you do this, you also add the command - Sit!
Gradually make the exercise more difficult
Then you tone down the hand movement more and more, in the end you have a puppy that only sits on command. Don't be afraid to use the hand motion for a while for a good result. Let this take some time, you are in no rush.
Once the puppy has learned to put the bottom down quickly, you can start to delay giving the treat a little. You immediately praise with your voice but wait a few seconds before giving the treat. In this way, you also teach the puppy to sit still for a while. Praise with your voice and gradually extend the time before it gets the treat.
Remember to sometimes go back in training and make it very easy, it's just good to do that sometimes. Should your puppy suddenly not understand, you also go back to the training. Soon you will have a puppy that sits on your command.
Teach your puppy to lie down
The best way to teach a dog to lie down is after it has learned to sit. You do this in exactly the same way but with a hand movement down towards the ground between the puppy's front legs when the dog is sitting. The puppy will then follow your hand down and lie down. You reward and develop that in exactly the same way as when you teach it to sit on command.
See this training as a process that takes time to get it absolutely perfect. It can take a long time to teach a dog this, but what is important and decisive for whether you will succeed or not, is that the puppy finds this fun.
Written by Dog Trainer, Fredrik Steen.
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