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Beginning Obedience Training - Part 2  
By
Cynthia Nogar

 

Sit

  1. Have your dog standing in front of you, on or off lead.
  2. Hold a treat in your right hand in front of the dog, momentarily a few inches in front if its nose, then move the treat up and a little over your dogs head, causing her to raise her head and her rump to fall into the sit position. Give the command 'sit' as soon as she starts to lower her rump.
  3. Immediately give the pup the treat as soon as it's rump reaches the ground, stand up and return your hands to your sides.
  4. If the pup is too rambunctious or backs up instead of sitting when you raise the treat, you can start by placing her on the couch and kneel to the side, repeating the exercise with the treat in your left hand and using your right hand resting on her rump to keep her from backing up as she looks up toward the treat.

 

Heel

  1. Place your dog in the sit position and take your place next to her so her shoulder is aligned with your left hip. AKC regulations require dogs to remain in line with the handler's left hip throughout the exercise, including on turns. (See enclosed picture)
  2. Your leash should remain loose throughout the exercise. Let it hang down about 11/2 to 2 inches before the leash curves up toward your right hand. You will use the leash to tell the dog where heel position isn't by gentle corrections such as a tug--not the traditional popping jerk of the compulsion methods. You will be showing the dog where heel position is through treats and praise.
  3. Hold the treat in your left hand. You can either lean over and hold the treat in front of the pups nose as you give the command to, 'heel', or you can place the treat on the end of a 1/2 inch dowel rod and hold it in front of the pups nose. (If you use the dowel rod, accustom the pup to it prior to using it in training, and remember, it's a training aid, not a chew toy so don't allow the pup to play with it.)
  4. Walk forward, holding the treat in front of the pup with your left hand and using your right hand to tug gently on the lead to keep the pup in position. You can also use your voice to make sounds of praise when the dog is in heel position, repeating, 'Good heel.'

Stop after only a few feet when the dog is successfully in heel position, give the treat and praise.

 

Stay

  1. Eliminate distractions in the environment, especially moving objects, other dogs, and noises.
  2. Stand with the pup sitting next to you on your left side. The treat is in your right hand.
  3. Give the command, 'stay', then step out a step with your right leg, keeping your left leg in place.
  4. Before the pup starts to move, step back into your original position and give the dog the treat immediately with verbal praise.
  5. Gradually increase the distance you move away from the dog, initially immediately returning and treating the dog, then standing facing your dog and gradually lengthening the amount of time you take to return.
  6. You can introduce the hand signal after the first few lessons by leaning over a bit and slowly but purposefully move the flattened palm of your left hand in front of the dogs nose while saying 'stay'. Avoid swinging your hand into your dog's face or striking your dog's nose.
  7. I've found avoiding eye contact when standing facing the pup lessens the incidence of them getting up and coming toward you while on stay. This also seems to be an exercise many over train and end up with dogs rebelling and refusing to remain in position for any length of time. Once I'm sure the dog has learned the exercise, I've had good success practicing sit or down stay at home only once a week for half the time required in obedience trials. The pup gets a weekly practice of the required time or longer in class.

 

Recall

  1. Place the pup in a sit.
  2. Walk about four feet away and turn to face the pup.
  3. Pause a moment, make sure your dog is looking at you, then lightly and playfully say 'come' while either backing up several steps or actually turning and running a few steps to encourage the dog to begin moving toward you. As the dog approaches, reach your hand down behind and between your knees with the treat in it. (You have to bend your knees a bit to do this. Practice without the dog around so you can smoothly do the sequence in training.)
  4. The dog will come right up in close to get the treat and may or may not sit (doesn't matter). Immediately give the treat and praise playfully.
  5. After the first few sessions, when the dog is comfortable coming in close to get the treat; you can add the command to 'sit' before giving the treat.
  6. Avoid using the 'come' command or calling your dog in the house or yard when the dog can choose not to come for at least the first year of it's life.

You never want the dog to figure out it has the option of refusing to come when called. I use the command 'inside' when calling dogs into the house from the yard (training with treats as described) and reserve 'come' for the recall and emergency situations.

 

Down

  1. Place the pup in the sit position in front of you with you kneeling or sitting cross-legged style.
  2. With the treat in either hand, move it from directly in front of your dog's nose down to the ground, ending with the palm of your hand flat on the ground over the treat. The pup should follow you on down. The moment the pup starts to lay down, give the command 'down'. Reward with the treat and praise as soon as the pup is lying on the ground.
  3. If you find #2 entirely unsuccessful, you can start in the position described in #1 and come from the side and lift the pups front legs off the ground, then lower the pup into the down position while giving the command to 'down'. Treat as soon as the pup is in the down position.
  4. Many dogs actively resist and resent having to 'down' on command. Keep your tone of voice light and avoid a wrestling match. Your dog should be accustomed to you handling it by this age, and also be accustomed to the learning process by this stage in the training. I continue to treat more frequently for an immediate 'down' than any other exercise, resulting in a Cairn that drops immediately on command and actually wags her tail sometimes while in the down position, knowing she has dropped well and a treat is likely coming at the successful completion of the exercise.

 

I wish you the best of luck in your training endeavors. Obedience training doesn't have to take up a lot of your time and can be a fun way for you and your dog to spend time together. Always remember to maintain a sense of humor, you know your Cairn will!

 

RESOURCES IN PRINT

(This is intended to be a springboard for further learning and is not an exhaustive list or an endorsement of those books listed. I was surprised to find more than a few of these at my local library.)

Cecil, Barbara & Darnell, Gerianne, COMPETITIVE OBEDIENCE TRAINING FOR THE SMALL DOG

 Donaldson, Jean, THE CULTURE CLASH

 Handler, Barbara, SUCCESSFUL OBEDIENCE HANDLING, The New Best Foot Forward.

 Lewis, Janet R., SMART TRAINERS--BRILLIANT DOGS

 Pryor, Karen, DON'T SHOOT THE DOG!--The New Art of Teaching and Training, and, A DOG AND A DOLPHIN 2.0

Weston, David, DOG TRAINING--The Gentle Modern Method

  RESOURCES ON THE WEB

(Except for the AKC site, these are all sites that list several links for obedience training. Again, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list or an endorsement of those sites listed.)

 AKC Obedience Training
http://www.akc.org/train.htm

American Dog Trainers Network
http://www.inch.com/~dogs/

  Clicker Animal Obedience Training
http://idchurch.net/f/fowkes/Click.html

Dog Obedience Training Central
http://www.dogpro.com/designs/links/obedlinx.htm

  Dog Patch Dog House Obedience Page
http://www.dogpatch.org/obed.html


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This page was last March 30, 2002

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