USEFUL COMMANDS TO TEACH YOUR DOG
HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG “ENOUGH”
“Enough” is an important dog command to teach because it has so many applications. You can use “Enough” to tell a dog to stop barking, to send the dog away from you at the dinner table, or to stop him from sniffing a visitor. You can also use it to tell two dogs who are playing too rough to chill out.
Say “Enough” to your dog in a low, quiet voice. Take a shake-can (an aluminum can filled with something like marbles or coins that make noise when you shake it) and punch the air with it in the dog’s direction—one short jab straight out in front of you, toward the dog. If he doesn’t stop what he’s doing or move away after the first time you say “Enough,” then “push” the dog away by standing up in front of him and walking him backward, pressing him away with a body block. Sit down again, cross your arms and look away.
The most important part of this dog training exercise is to turn your face away. Break off all visual contact with the dog. If you keep eye contact the dog will stick around, trying to read your face. If he persists coming back to you even after you body-blocked him and looked away, then you’ll have to repeat the exercise from the beginning: “air punch” the shake-can and say “Enough” in a low voice. If you get no reaction and he continues to hover, body-block him backward again. Do not make eye contact (because the dog will be looking for it, for validation). When it finally sinks in—when the dog gets the message and backs off (or stops barking) when you say “Enough,” it’s time to reward him.
Praise him verbally the moment he changes what he’s doing. Also give him a dog treat, but don’t allow him to come back toward you. Instead go to him, or call him to you for the food treat that accompanies his compliance with “Enough.”
HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG “GO TO YOUR BED”
“Go to your bed” is one of the handiest and most underused commands. It’s great to be able to send the dog to her bed (or any place you’ve designated as her “place”) if she’s in the way or when there is a visitor at the door. The “Go to your bed” command gets the dog out from underfoot—in this case, away from the front door—and then you can release her to do as she wishes.
Use a firm tone of voice and say “Go to your bed,” as you point to her dog bed with a straight arm. Do not repeat the command—just stand there with your raised arm pointing at the bed, looking right at it. You can toss a treat onto the bed. Most dogs will catch on pretty quickly, and as soon as their paws touch the bed, heap praise all over them. In fact, you should give the dog buckets of praise, but she can’t come to you for it because that would defeat the purpose of the “Go to your bed” command. So toss treats to her or take the treats over to her bed and make a fuss over her there.
Once you’ve given the “Go to your bed” command, then release the dog fairly quickly from your control. “Go to your bed” is easy for a dog to learn because it typically requires compliance for no more than a few minutes before the release.
USING “OKAY” TO RELEASE YOUR DOG
“Okay” is an excellent release word for many dog commands. But if you choose “Okay,” be aware of other times you may use it to mistakenly release your dog—for example, when you leave the house and say “Okay” to someone else and the dog bolts because she thinks you’re speaking to her.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG “OFF”
There are three effective ways to teach your dog “Off,” or not to jump up on you and others:
Method #1: The easiest method to teach “Off” is the cold shoulder—it requires very little setup, precise timing, or physical effort from you. Just fold your arms, look away from the dog and maybe turn your body, so instead of facing him you’re ignoring him completely. Most dogs are baffled by this and will stop jumping. Then praise him immediately when he gets down—generous praise with words and food treats the instant he has all four feet on the ground. Dog training exercises are the most effective when you reinforce them at the very moment the dog executes your wishes.
WHY DOGS JUMP UP ON PEOPLE
Dogs jump up for two reasons: to get attention, and to show how happy they are to see you. To a dog, it’s a naturally happy action. It’s people who need to be disciplined about dogs jumping up: if you ignore a dog who jumps up, he will stop doing it. Never pat a dog who only has his two back feet on the ground. This goes for everyone in your household—and it must be practiced consistently. If the effort is not unanimous, you can forget about correcting the habit.
If anyone ever praises a dog for jumping up, he will be encouraged to keep on doing it. Don’t expect your dog to figure out when or with whom it’s okay to jump up. The answer has to be nowhere, on no one, ever. If you want your dog not to jump, you can NEVER pat him after he jumps, or do anything pleasurable—speak or laugh in a friendly way, give a treat, throw a toy, etc. You have to correct or ignore anything the dog does without all four of his feet on the ground—including draping himself on your lap when you’re sitting down.
Method #2: First leash your dog, but don’t place any pressure or tension on the leash. Then set up whatever situation usually makes him jump, such as your coming in the door. As soon as the dog begins to jump up, either step on the leash with your foot, or step hard into the dog with a raised knee and hope you catch him with it and knock him off you.
Method # 3: Another training method that works for some people (depending on the relative height of the person and the dog standing on her hind legs) is for you to catch the dog’s two front feet and pull them slightly apart—just enough to make him feel uncomfortable and off-balance. When he starts to struggle, just let go and ignore him completely, unless or until he sits down. Then you can make a big fuss over him for having four feet on the ground.
After a correction, be warm and pet your dog, but be unemotional: if you’re too enthusiastic he’ll get revved up and want to jump again. And make sure to show no lingering annoyance for his having jumped in the first place.
HOW TO TEACH YOUR DOG “WAIT”
This is a good command to use before you exit the house, cross a street, or get out of the car. If your door leads to an unfenced area, leash your dog before starting.
Stand with Your Back to the Door. Move in front of your dog so she’s facing you. If she crowds you, walk gently and slowly directly at her, herding her and pushing her backward with your forward motion. Move her about three feet back, away from you and the door.
She May Try to Slip Around You to Get Closer to the Door. Block her by moving quickly in front of her in every direction she tries.
Say “Wait” in a Quiet, Low Firm Voice. Then open the door a little bit. Do not repeat “Wait”—even though it’s hard not to repeat yourself, or to say something when you want to control the dog with your voice and you don’t have that control yet.
QUICK TIPS FOR SUCCESS WITH “WAIT”
Most Dogs Try to Make a Break for It. All you can do is block the dog’s forward motion with your body. Or you can close the door quickly, as long as you’re really careful not to shut it on the dog (no kidding—it happens). That’s why it’s good to open the door just a little way, so you don’t have so far to go to close it.
Note: Do not say “Stay” instead of “Wait”. Wait means “halt forward movement until released.” Stay is about “staying still in one position until released.” “Stay” is more control than we need here. All we’re asking the dog for is self-control—momentarily stopping the dash for freedom is all it’s about. Closing the door or blocking her with your body shows her that the door will shut if she doesn’t wait. Barging ahead will shut the door. Waiting patiently will open it.
Success Depends on an Immediate Reward. You have to be ready to open the door immediately if the dog hesitates even a little when you say “Wait.” If she stops her forward motion for a moment, you must positively reinforce your dog the second that she stops pressing forward. You can expect her to be more patient later.
No Leash Tugging—No Restraining. “Wait” has to be the dog making the choice for herself. The instant she hesitates in her natural forward motion after you’ve said “Wait,” you’re on your way. Then use the release word you’ve developed—such as “Okay!” or “Go!”—and allow her the freedom to run around. The release and freedom are her rewards.