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Simple training techniques to improve your dog's obedience

Basic training is a must for all dogs as it not only helps to improve behaviour, it can also strengthen the bond between you and your best four-legged friend. We believe there are five essential commands all dogs need to learn for obedience and also their own safety.

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Sit

Sit is one of the first commands that all dogs should learn. Ideally puppies should be taught this command as soon as they are ready to learn, and if you have adopted an older dog it's best to try and start teaching them the sit command straight away, in case they haven't already learnt it. Sitting is a dog's way of showing politeness - it shows their submission and willingness to wait. When your dog learns the sit command they will know it's time to calm down and concentrate.

To teach your dog to sit, stand up straight in front of them with a treat and hold it in front of their nose. Slowly arc the treat over your dog's head - this should cause your dog to follow the treat with their nose - and they should naturally move their bottom to a sitting position. As your dog moves closer to the sitting position, say their name followed by the command 'sit'. Once they are completely down, verbally praise them and reward them with the treat. Complete this practice regularly and eventually your dog won't even need a treat!

Stay

Once you have the sit command perfected it's time to move onto stay. The stay command is vital for your dog's safety and could potentially save their life, as it can prevent them from running out onto a busy road or getting lost.

When your dog is sitting, stand to the side of them and tell them to 'stay' and then walk away. If they follow, which is highly likely in the early stages of learning this command, take them to the original place and repeat. It may take them a while to understand, but once they do stay, return to them after 10 seconds, verbally praise your dog and give them a treat. Eventually they will learn this command without having to sit first and your dog will be safer when going out for a walk.

Lie Down

Lie down is a command that's useful for letting your dog know when it's time to calm down, especially if they are over excited or are in a situation which can cause them to feel nervous.

To teach your dog the command put them in the sit position, then whilst holding a treat lower your hand to the floor. Like the sit command, your dog should follow the treat and lie down. Once down, praise and reward your dog as before. If they don't get it the first time don't worry, just keep trying. Always start from fresh and lower your hand, don't just keep saying ‘down’ constantly.

Follow

Your dog needs to learn this trick for when they are out, as it ensures that they will always return to you when they are off their lead. When your dog is sitting, walk away from them and place a treat near your feet and say 'follow'. Reward and praise your dog each time they walk up to you. Eventually, they should associate this action with the word ‘follow’. Again, it may take some practice, especially as the treats start to filter out. The key is to keep at it - and there's no harm in giving a treat every now and again once they have learnt the trick!

Fetch

Fetch is an extension of the follow command. The difference here is that your dog will be returning an item to you. This exercise is about establishing trust between you and your dog, which is excellent for strengthening obedience. Start by throwing a ball a moderate distance away from you. Most dogs will naturally chase after objects which are thrown, so don’t worry about teaching a behaviour here. Once your dog picks up the ball, shout ‘follow’ for them to return with the ball. At your feet, tell your dog to ‘give’ with your hands out in front of you. Successful fetches should be rewarded with praise and a treat. This will become second nature to your dog with a little practice, and they’ll have loads of fun doing it too.

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