How many of these does your dog know? Remember: you CAN teach an old dog new tricks–it’s never too late to teach a dog no matter what age they are!
- Sit. This is a good one to start with because it’s the most natural concept for most dogs and one of the easiest for them to learn.
- Down. Once your dog can sit on command, you can teach him or her to lie down. A dog that will lie down on command can be taught to go to a place like a dog bed and be calm, or be calm and well-behaved at an outside eatery.
- Stay. A dog who knows how to stay won’t run into the street if he or she gets loose, so this is one of the most important skills for a dog to learn. Be patient: Most dogs take at least a couple of days to understand Stay and it can take a few weeks to master it.
- Come. If you plan to take your dog anywhere off-leash, this is an important command. It can also keep your dog safe if he or she breaks off the leash.
- Heel. Dogs of all sizes should learn to heel, or walk calmly by your side, especially if you exercise your pup where there’s not much room on the sidewalk or path. The skill is even more important for large or strong pups so that walks are more pleasant for your dog and your arm socket!
- Off. Jumping on visitors or furniture is a common issue. There are several ways you can discourage jumping, such as turning your back when your dog jumps up, grabbing the dog’s paws and shaking a plastic bottle filled with pennies while you say “Off.” You’ll need to try a few to see which clicks with your pet.
- No. No makes a good, all-purpose command for everything you want your pup not to do. You can also teach “Leave It” instead or in addition to no.
While taking a class to learn these and other commands may be beneficial for you and your pup, you can teach your dog right at home (there are a lot of helpful resources available online). The most important thing is to keep training positive and relaxed, especially if your dog is fearful or anxious. Also keep in mind to always praise your dog once he successfully follows the command.