You can train your pup to be a star pupil by using consistent commands and rewards for good behaviour, known as positive reinforcement. Punishment or reprimands may be required in some situations, but are best avoided by good training by the owner. Early socialisation, puppy pre-school, then ongoing obedience lessons will give you a wonderful, well-trained companion, who doesnâ€™t set a foot wrong, and therefore never tests the pet/family bond.
The drop command
Drop may be a better command than â€˜downâ€™ as you may use this word when commanding your dog to get off furniture or to stop jumping up on someone. Start in the sit position then lower the treat towards the floor and say â€˜dropâ€™. If your puppy doesnâ€™t lie down, try this: sit on the floor with your legs in front of you with knees slightly bent. Put your hand with the treat in it under your knee so that as your puppy follows the food, he is forced to lie down. Teach your puppy to drop from the sitting and standing positions. It is an invaluable command to stop your dog chasing something, or running inadvertently into traffic.
The stay command
Once the puppy is sitting, give the â€˜stayâ€™ command with the hand up as a stop signal, and back away a step. Then return and give the reward and praise. The command involves you coming back to the puppy, and not the puppy following you. Increase the time and distance slowly over several weeks. After months, you will be able to extend the time to 15 â€“ 20 minutes. During these stay periods, make sure the dog is in its resting or sleeping area. Ask the puppy to sit and stay while you prepare his meal and put it down, then give the â€˜releaseâ€™ or â€˜OKâ€™ command.
The come command
The two most important rules about teaching your puppy to â€˜comeâ€™ to you is to set the dog up for success (so that you never fail) and that each training session is simple, fun and pleasurable. Never call your dog to you to punish him.Ask your puppy to sit then back away a short distance. Then show him a food treat or favourite toy, say his name and â€˜comeâ€™. When he comes to you, give him the food treat or toy and praise him. Positive reinforcement is the key to dog and puppy training.
Gradually increase the distance
Over time you can perform the command from greater distances and in environments with a greater number of distractions. If there is a chance that the puppy might escape or disobey, put a long leash on him so that you can prevent him from escaping, and to get his attention so you can repeat the command. This is what is meant by setting the puppy up for success. Having all members of the family give these commands consistently with rewarding of desirable behaviour ensures the dog learns exactly what is expected of it in the most effective, safe and gentle way. The long-term benefits are a happy family and a happy dog!