How to train a dog to come

Learning to come when called, or recall to you, is one of the most important skills your dog can learn. But teaching a recall can be challenging, as dogs find so much of the world so interesting. Each time we ask our dog to come to us, we’re asking them to stop what they’re doing.

That means turning away from other interesting smells, dogs, and food, to come to us. As a result, to build a reliable recall, we must teach our dogs that being near us is the most fun thing they can do, not to mention, the thing that brings them the most rewards.

What Is A Reliable Recall?

Trainers will often throw around the phrase “reliable recall,” but what does that mean? Reliable recall means when you call your dog to come, you want to be 99.99% sure they are going to enthusiastically respond. Dogs are not robots, so there is never any guarantee that they will listen to your cue. But with a lifesaving skill like recall, we are working towards them being as consistent as possible.

Having a reliable recall is especially important if you want to allow your dog to run off-leash outside of a fenced yard or dog park. Even if your dog doesn’t go off-leash, reliable recall is an important skill for any dog in the event of an emergency.

Alternatives To Off-Leash Play

There’s no shame in keeping your dog on-leash if you aren’t confident in their recall. Some dogs will never have a recall that is safe or reliable in all situations, but they can still have fun. Instead, let them play in fenced areas or consider using a long leash. These may give your dog more opportunity to explore while keeping them safely leashed.

Leash Laws

Regardless of how strong your dog’s recall is, it’s important to respect all local leash laws. This includes your front yard and anywhere else on your property that isn’t fenced. Laws are usually also in effect in local, state, and national parks. Respecting leash laws is an important part of helping your dog be a respectful member of your community.

Training Recalls

An important part of teaching recall is to make training a game for your dog. You want your dog to think that coming and being near you is the best thing imaginable, full of fantastic treats and rewards.

Start your training in a slow, low-distraction environment, like inside your house. First, show your dog a toy or a treat, praise them as they are coming to you, then reward them. After a few repetitions, whenever your dog looks at you and starts to move towards you, add in your chosen verbal cue (come, here, etc.). Make sure to only add in the cue when you are confident your dog is moving towards you.

You can slowly up the ante by asking your dog to come before showing them the treat. But, be sure to reward with a high-value treat like chicken, cheese, or beef liver, when they get to you. Also, try slowly adding distance within your low-distraction environment.

Recall Games

Catch Me: While walking your dog on-leash, get their attention, then turn around and run a few steps. As your pup moves with you, say “come!” or whichever verbal recall cue you’re using. After a few steps, stop and reward with a treat or a toy. Make sure your dog is paying attention before you run, to ensure they don’t get yanked by the leash.

Find Me: Once your dog has gotten the hang of recall, a fun game to play to build speed is to call them from another room. When your dog finds you, offer lots of praise and rewards. This hide-and-seek-like game is a lot of fun for both pups and people!

Hot Potato: Take two or more family members or friends and give them high-value treats. Next, stand apart and take turns calling your dog between you. Reward your dog each time they come to the person who called them.

A common training mistake is to recall the dog, put the leash on, and go home. Dogs will likely learn to view recall as a sign that the fun is over. Understandably, this may make them less likely to come in the future. One good method of practice is to recall, praise, and treat, then release your dog to return to whatever fun thing they were doing before.

Poisoning The Cue

“Come! COME. Come! Come! Come! Please come!”

If this sounds like your dog’s current recall, you may have a “poisoned cue.” This generally happens unintentionally and occurs when the cue either has an unclear meaning or takes on a negative association for the dog, so they ignore it. The easiest way to poison a cue is to overuse it by repeating the word over and over without your dog responding.

In this case, the best thing to do is to change your verbal cue to something new. For example, if you had previously used “come,” you could shift to something like “here” or “close.” It’s best to go back to basics and start at the beginning when introducing the new recall cue.

Recall Training Tips

    • Don’t repeat yourself. If you have to repeat your recall cue, the environment may be too distracting. Or, your dog doesn’t understand the skill well enough for the level you are trying to train.
    • Reward eye contact. When you notice your dog is looking at you or has self-selected to be close to you, verbally praise and treat. You may use a lot of treats at first, but you are reinforcing an important lesson to your dog. Being near you and paying attention to you makes good things happen.
    • Never punish your dog for coming to you. Even if you’re frustrated because your pup took their time before coming, you still should always praise a recall.
    • Reward! When training recalls, use high-value treats and toys for your dog. This is especially true when your dog is learning. Always reward the recall, because you want them to associate coming with getting something great.
    • Practice recalls daily. Slowly increase the difficulty and level of distraction. Moving too quickly is likely to confuse your dog, and may lead to less reliability.
    • If you require recall in an emergency like if a gate was left open, don’t chase your dog. That’s likely to make them continue the “game” you don’t want to play by moving away from you. Instead, try running away from your dog to inspire them to chase after you.

Need some help training your dog? While you may not be able to attend in-person training classes during COVID-19, we are here to help you virtually through AKC GoodDog! Helpline. This live telephone service connects you with a professional trainer who will offer unlimited, individualized advice on everything from behavioral issues to CGC prep to getting started in dog sports.

This basic command is relatively easy for most dogs to learn

How to train a dog to come

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How to train a dog to come

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Teaching your dog to come to you when called is an essential part of proper dog training. Often referred to as a “recall,” it is one of the most important basic dog commands. You can teach a puppy to come when called as soon as it learns its name.

Training your dog for the recall cue can help you keep it under control while allowing it some off-leash freedom. Once this cue is mastered, you can protect the dog from a potentially dangerous situation by calling it to you.

Plan Short Training Sessions

Training your dog to come when called is fairly simple, but it takes some dogs longer than others to learn. Your dog’s ability to learn the recall command largely depends on its attention span and vulnerability to distraction.

You must work on training regularly and use valuable rewards. Plan to train your dog in short training sessions of between five to 15 minutes at least three times a week but no more than twice a day.

Avoid Distractions

While your dog will have to learn to filter out some distractions, don’t try to train it in an environment where it will be overstimulated by noise or smells. Ideally, you and your dog will be the only ones in the house with everyday conditions (such as lights and ambient sounds) when you start the training.

Use Treats

In the beginning, use a favorite toy or your dog’s favorite training treats. Hold up a toy or treat, then say your dog’s name followed by “come” in a clear, excited tone. If necessary, make movements such as tapping your knees and stepping backward. As soon as your dog comes to you, reward it, then praise it lavishly—but try not to cause overexcitement.

Don’t Chase Your Dog

Never run after your dog if it bolts during these training sessions. This will confuse the dog and turns training into a game. Try turning it around by calling the dog’s name and running away from it. Your dog may then run after you in play. If so, reward it with praise when it gets to you.

Problems and Proofing the Behavior

Repeat five or six times, gradually moving to different areas of your home, including outdoors. As your dog improves, move to areas with more distractions.

Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog. You may wish to use a longer lead. Once your dog has mastered the recall while on the long leash, practice it without any leash, but only indoors or in a fenced-in area.

Slowly phase out the toy or treat rewards, but keep rewarding with much praise. Your dog must learn to come to you without food or toy rewards. In the real world, you may need it to come, but not have anything to give it except praise.

How to train a dog to come

Does your dog come when called – or leave you shouting their name over and over in front of everyone at the dog park?

Recall is the most important skill to teach any dog. It’s handy if your dog ever escapes your yard, or if you ever want to enjoy an off-leash hike in a wooded area. Start teaching recall early, and practice every single day.

Never scold your dog if they come when called… even if it takes forever.

You’re calling after your dog, and they ignore you as they roll in a fresh pile of horse manure… only to come racing back with that big doggy smile and stinky streaks all over their fur.

We all feel annoyed when our dogs don’t come immediately, but it’s imperative that you control any anger, annoyance, or irritation you feel towards your dog, and do not let your emotions affect your reaction.

When people scold their dogs upon their return, they set them up for failure.

Your dog will only return to you if you have trained them to realize that going to you is better than being away from you. If you yell at, scold, or otherwise scare or intimidate your dog, they’ll be much more likely to run off next time they’re out of reach.

Use a consistent cue – or a whistle.

The best way to call your dog by voice is to always use the same cue (a word like, come!) called out in a happy, singsong voice.

However, it’s tough to keep your voice consistent in every situation.

Your dog can hear a whistle for many yards, and will never be able to tell if you’re angry, scared or anxious through the high-pitched tone.

Use high-value treats to teach and maintain a strong recall.

Every time you whistle or call your dog, have a treat ready to give them when they come back to you.

Learn what your dog really loves, and try to have that on hand as often as possible.

Dry, crunchy biscuits are cheaper, but they are not very rewarding to most dogs. If your dog knows that you’ll offer them a boring biscuit upon their return, they won’t feel compelled to come when you call them away from a dead rabbit.

Meat, cheese and peanut butter are all high value rewards that will get your dog’s attention.

Freeze-dried liver can be found in bulk in many pet stores, and many dogs find it irresistible.

Reward your dog with a high-value treat whenever they come to you. You need to do this consistently for your dog’s entire life to build a strong recall. When you don’t have access to treats, and need to call your dog, there’s a bigger chance they’ll obey if you typically offer tasty rewards.

Make every call a party.

Avoid calling your dog just before giving them a bath or clipping their nails. This will build a negative association that can take days to reverse.

Always praise your dog for coming to you. Call your dog before a car ride, play session or mealtime. Many dogs respond even better to lots of praising and pets than to a high-value treat.

Mix it up by running away from your dog just as they approach you. Encourage your dog to chase you, but never play games that involve you chasing your dog.

If you can convince your dog that going to you is the best thing in the world, no distraction will be able to keep them from coming when called – with lightning speed!

Use a long line or a leash.

Some people mistakenly think that, when dog owners allow their dogs to roam off-leash, they must be amazingly skilled at training their dog. However, the person who has their dog off-leash outside of the dog park is more likely to be irresponsible than not. They will typically have trouble gaining control of their dog should it chase after a squirrel, bother other people or dogs, or worse – dash into the street.

No matter how well-trained your dog is, you need to follow leash laws and understand that no dog is perfect.

Your dog can be just as happy if you take them out on a leash or on a long line. A long line is a leash that can be 30 to 50 feet long – plenty of room for your dog to explore, with enough control to keep them safe.

When will it be worth it?

It can take months for your dog to develop a habit of coming to you when called, even with distractions. Hang in there, and keep working on it. With lots of high-value rewards and praise, you can prove to your dog that you are more interesting than their environment, and it’s always worthwhile to come back to you.

Here at Tether Tug, we are all about keeping dogs healthy, happy, and entertained.

Recall, or to come when called, is a crucial skill every dog needs to know. Of all things for them to learn, a solid recall might be the most important—especially if you plan to go out in public with your dog, visit parks, or let your dog off leash in any scenario. When you first bring home a bouncing puppy, recall (and potty training) should be where you focus your attention.

It takes time, and consistency, to build a recall cue and ensure your dog can respond to it in all sorts of situations and locations (known as “generalizing” the cue). One of the most important factors in teaching this cue is making sure it’s always a stress-free and fun experience. Sometimes owners accidentally teach their dog that the cue is a bad thing (known as “poisoning the cue”). This occurs most often when you use your dog’s name or the cue for coming when called when you feel angry or are scolding your dog. Of course, you should never scold your dog—and especially don’t do it when you need them to come back to you and fast. Make it fun, make it positive, make it something you and your dog enjoy practicing together.

Use this quick and easy guide to help you create a wonderfully helpful, and effective, recall.

Before You Get Started

Select Your Pup’s Favorite Treat

A great reinforcer is something your dog loves, is small, and easy to provide. For dogs of any size or breed this is some kind of food or treat. Cut-up hot dogs, small pieces of cheese or lunch meat, store-bought training treats, or even veggies like carrots or green beans (for the veggie loving pup) are all good options. Make sure you pick what your dog loves best and don’t be afraid to switch it up as your training progresses.

Use a Marker

A marker (also a conditioned reinforcer) is a signal that literally marks the exact moment your dog did something that earned them that reinforcer. A clicker is a great example of an effective marker. If you don’t have a clicker you can use word like “yes” but pick one word and stick to it. In this guide, we will use a clicker and wherever we say “click” you will use your marker. Click (or mark) the behavior the second it happens. See the behavior, mark the behavior, give a treat.

An Easy-Peasy Guide To Teach Your Dog Recall

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1. Click for Attention

It might not seem obvious, but reinforcing your dog for moments of offered attention (your dog gives you attention without you saying or doing anything) is a critical first step in teaching your dog “come.” Doing this helps your pup learn that when they offer up their attention, they will get access to some of their favorite things. Over time, your dog will be much more likely to pay attention, like when you need them to come, when doing so has a strong reinforcement history.

Sit or stand in front of your dog but don’t say ask them to do anything. Click and treat when they look at you. Start to reinforce your dog for moments of attention throughout the day, when you are on walks, or at the beginning of any teaching session. The more you reinforce their offering of attention, the more they will give it.

Pro Trainer’s Tip: When you’re clicking for attention and building a solid recall, try not to overuse your dog’s name. A dog’s name, especially when you’re teaching it, should be reserved for times when you really need them to pay attention—and fast. If you overuse it, or only use it when your dog is already paying attention to you (or when you are mad), it becomes white noise quickly or takes on a new, unpleasant meaning.

2. Toss a Treat and Click for Returning

With your dog standing or sitting in front of you, toss a treat away from you (make sure they see it). Let them eat it and the second they turn back toward you, click and give them another treat. Repeat this many times, varying the distance you throw the treat and whether your dog is off or on leash (and always in the safety of your home or a fenced-in area).

Pro Trainer’s Tip: Start this game in your house and then gradually move to more distracting environments like your backyard.

3. Add the Verbal Cue “Come”

Building off step two, toss one of your dog’s favorite treats a few feet away from you. Let your dog eat the treat and then when they turn around to face you and take a step toward you, say the verbal cue “come” and click and treat. Repeat this several times, always clicking when they start their approach and giving them a treat the second they reach you.

Pro Trainer’s Tip: After several repetitions you can wait and click until they have completely returned to you instead of when they are beginning their approach.

4. Make a Game Out of It

You can easily make learning to come when called a fun game, especially for puppies. Ask a friend or family member to help you with this step. Both people should have some of your dog’s favorite treats in their hand and a clicker. Stand 10 feet apart and begin by tossing a treat in the general direction of the other person. Once your dog eats the treat, the person closest to the dog should say “come.” They may need to also make kiss noises, pat their leg, or pat the floor initially to get the dog’s attention, encouraging them to come.

The moment the dog moves towards the person, that person clicks, and gives the treat when the dog arrives. Now the other person should say “come” and click the moment the dog comes towards them, then treat. Repeat this back and forth game several times until the dog immediately comes when you say the cue. Gradually add distance between the two people and always make sure to reinforce the dog.

Pro Trainer’s Tip: Don’t be stingy with treats! You should give your dog a yummy treat every time they come when they are first learning, even if the approach is slow.

Things To Consider When Teaching the “Come” Cue

Abide By Leash Laws

Always remember to observe leash laws and practice this cue with your dog on-leash whenever you are outside of your home or not in a fenced area. Recall is a necessary skill for your dog to understand, especially if they accidentally get away from you or find themselves not on leash or even lost. But leash laws come first and you should never allow your dog to be roaming freely, even for the purposes of training, while in public for the safety of your dog and others.

Don’t Only Practice With a “Stay” Cue

Don’t only practice teaching your dog to come when called in conjunction with a “stay” cue otherwise your dog will learn that “come” only occurs after they have stayed in a position for a certain period of time. It is alright to sometimes ask your dog to perform a stay cue and then walk away and ask them to come to you, but make sure this is not the only time you practice recall. It’s important your dog learns that coming when called can occur in any scenario, with or without having to stay put first.

Your dog already loves to be nearby you but with time, patience, and lots of lots of positive reinforcement your dog will learn that coming when you call is an easy-peasy thing they love to do.

How to train a dog to come

Teaching your dog to come back to you when off-lead and called is essential in keeping your dog under your control. Not only is this a legal necessity, it also ensures you keep your dog safe and out of trouble, prevents your dog being a nuisance to others and helps to make your walks less stressful, more frequent and more of a pleasure. Happier walks are going to strengthen the bond between you and your dog, plus they’re also good for both physical and mental health.

Coming back when called can be a tricky behaviour to teach, depending on your dog’s breed/breed type and what that breed was originally bred to do, as well as your dog’s individual temperament. It basically boils down to the relationship your dog has with you in the presence of potentially more exciting distractions, like football, joggers, other dogs, squirrels, the list is endless.

If treats are used, please remember to take them out of your dog’s daily food rations, and grade them according to your dog’s stage of learning, and/or the environment.

Teaching your dog to come back to you

  • As with all new behaviours, start teaching in quiet places that your dog knows well, so that they can concentrate more easily, e.g. your house, followed by your garden etc. It increases the chances that they’ll get it right
  • Decide what you want the dog to do once they get to you. Unless you want them to run to you and then straight back off again, avoid grabbing the dog’s collar when they are close to you (except in an emergency), as this can easily lead to a game of ‘chase me’. Teaching your dog to accept being held and moved by their collar is an important behaviour to teach, but this should be taught with care and away from ‘recall’ training
  • You may decide you want your dog to sit when they get to you. This adds some control, so that you can re-clip their lead – however, adding in too much control can slow down the speed at which they choose to come to you
  • First, repeat the stages of How do I get my dog to respond to their name? However, now follow the name with the word ‘come’
  • When you start to move into different environments, particularly those that are more distracting, go back to the beginning in terms of training, and reteach. You are likely to be able to progress more quickly than you did when first teaching in your lounge at home, but you may not – it depends on the dog
  • Always consider using the dog’s lead or a long training line in new environments, so that you always set the dog up to get it right. As training progresses, these can be allowed to drag behind the dog as a safety net)
  • If you are going to let go of your dog’s lead, or take it off-lead altogether, check that the environment is safe for you to do so. That means being being in an enclosed area away from moving vehicles, far from things that you don’t want your dog to get involved in – people’s picnics, children’s ball games, other animals etc. Be confident that you have progressed far enough in your dog’s training to be successful
  • Never have your dog off-lead in the street or where there are livestock – and don’t have them on an extending lead either. This also applies to places where it stipulates that your dog must be on lead

Please note: there are many different ways to train your dog. This is just one method of teaching. If you are ever in doubt, please seek professional advice.

For more information and advice, you can find training classes with The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Training scheme , browse our full list of The Kennel Club Accredited Instructors or find a dog training club near you.

Do you find yourself calling your dog’s name, only to have her look at you and take off in the other direction? You are not alone. But with some work and patience, you can get your dog to come to you the first time, every time!

Common mistakes

Humans often inadvertently train their dogs to run away when they are called. People typically call their dogs by yelling phrases like these:

Fido, come here. Look at this shoe, you bad boy!

Come here, Princess. Let’s go to the vet.

Buddy, come. Stop playing with the other dogs, we need to go home.

Come on, Shadow. No more sniffing in the yard. I have to go to work.

For dogs, “come” often means “stop having fun” or “you are in trouble.” It’s no wonder they don’t want to come when called!

Key behavior points

  • If you have used the word “come” when you’ve been mad, your dog may have learned to dislike that word. Try a new word such as “here” so you and your dog can start fresh.
  • Never punish a dog for coming to you, even if it takes him forever to do it. For example, don’t be annoyed with your dog because you’re late for work and it took him 20 minutes to come. If you’re short or angry, it may take 45 minutes next time. Instead, praise your dog and perhaps he will come sooner next time.
  • Don’t set up your dog to fail. If you have never taught your dog to come, don’t let him loose in a field and expect him to do it naturally. That’s just not fair. Set up small, controlled situations that become increasingly more challenging as you progress with your training. Also, if your dog runs away every morning, do not let him off leash until he is trained.
  • Don’t overuse the word. By repeating “Come! Come here! Come on! Come, come, come, come,” you teach your dog that “come” is just part of a bunch of gibberish.
  • Instead of making “come” mean “end of fun,” make it mean the opposite! Every time your dog comes to you, you must make it a pleasant experience. Pet or praise your dog or give him a treat every single time he comes. Set up scenarios where your dog plays, you call, he comes, you reward, and he goes back to playing. Repeat the scenarios many times.

Steps to teaching your dog to come

Take the following steps — remain on each step until you have a great deal of success. Only then should you move on to the next step. Be sure to always have your dog’s favorite toy or some tasty treats on hand for the reward. Find a special treat that your dog only gets when he comes to you.

  1. Begin in the house, in the same room, just a few feet away as your dog. Call him to you (“Rufus, come”). When he comes, praise, pet and give him a treat. Then walk away as if nothing happened. When the dog stops following you around, repeat the process until he comes easily, every time he’s called. Then move to step 2.
  2. Repeat. This time call your dog from the other side of the same room.
  3. Repeat. This time go to another room, just out of sight from the dog, and call.
  4. Repeat. This time go to a spot several rooms away, or onto another floor, and call.
  5. Repeat. This time move to another room, close the door but leave it slightly ajar.
  6. Move outside to a securely fenced area or use a long tether to keep your dog safe. Walk around while the dog does his own thing. At random times call the dog to you. When he comes, reward him. Then walk away as if nothing happened. When the dog stops following you, repeat.
  7. Gradually give the dog more freedom and more space. Ultimately, incorporate distractions to test the dog.

How to train a dog to come

Are you looking for the best commands to teach your dog? Although having a trained dog isn’t the same as having a balanced dog, teaching your dog basic dog training commands can be helpful when tackling behavior problems despite whether they are existing ones or those that may develop in the future.

So where exactly do you start with teaching your dog commands? While taking a class may be beneficial for you and your pup, there are many dog training commands you can teach your dog right at home. Below, we’ve listed the best list of dog commands you and your pup are guaranteed to enjoy.


Teaching your dog to sit is one of the most basic dog commands to teach your pup, thus making it a great one to start with. A dog who knows the “Sit” command will be much calmer and easier to control than dogs who aren’t taught this simple command. Additionally, the “Sit” command prepares your dog for harder commands such as “Stay” and “Come.”

Here’s how to teach your dog the “Sit” command:

  • Hold a treat close to your dog’s nose.
  • Move your hand up, allowing his head to follow the treat and causing his bottom to lower.
  • Once he’s in sitting position, say “Sit,” give him the treat, and share affection.

Repeat this sequence a few times every day until your dog has it mastered. Then ask your dog to sit before mealtime, when leaving for walks and during other situations when you’d like him calm and seated.


Another important command for your dog to learn is the word “come.” This command is extremely helpful for those times you lose grip on the leash or accidentally leave the front door open. Once again, this command is easy to teach and will help keep your dog out of trouble.

  • Put a leash and collar on your dog.
  • Go down to his level and say, “Come,” while gently pulling on the leash.
  • When he gets to you, reward him with affection and a treat.

Once he’s mastered it with the leash, remove it and continue to practice the command in a safe, enclosed area.


This next command is one of the more difficult dog training commands to teach. The reason it may be hard for your dog to master this command is that it requires him to be in a submissive posture. You can help out your dog by keeping 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.

  • Find a particularly good smelling treat , and hold it in your closed fist.
  • Hold your hand up to your dog’s snout. When he sniffs it, move your hand to the floor, so he follows.
  • Then slide your hand along the ground in front of him to encourage his body to follow his head.
  • Once he’s in the down position, say “Down,” give him the treat , and share affection.

Repeat this training every day. If your dog tries to sit up or lunge toward your hand, say “No” and take your hand away. Don’t push him into a down position, and encourage every step your dog takes toward the right position. After all, he’s working hard to figure it out!


Similar to the “Sit” command, the “Stay” cue will help make your dog easier to control. This command can be helpful in a number of situations such as those times you want your dog out of the way as you tend to household chores or when you don’t want your pup overwhelming guests.

Before attempting to teach your dog this command, make sure your dog is an expert at the “Sit” cue. If he hasn’t quite mastered the “Sit” command, take the time to practice it with him before moving on to the “Stay” cue.

  • First, ask your dog to “Sit.”
  • Then open the palm of your hand in front of you, and say “Stay.”
  • Take a few steps back. Reward him with a treat and affection if he stays.
  • Gradually increase the number of steps you take before giving the treat .
  • Always reward your pup for staying put — even if it’s just for a few seconds.

This is an exercise in self-control for your dog, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to master, particularly for puppies and high-energy dogs. After all, most dogs prefer to be on the move rather than just sitting and waiting.

Leave it

This last command can help keep your dog safe when his curiosity gets the better of him such as those times when he smells something intriguing but possibly dangerous on the ground. The goal is to teach your pup that he gets something even better for ignoring the other item.

  • Place a treat in both hands.
  • Show him one enclosed fist with the treat inside and say “Leave it.”
  • Ignore the behaviors as he licks, sniffs, mouths, paws and barks to get the treat.
  • Once he stops trying, give him the treat from the other hand.
  • Repeat until your dog moves away from that first fist when you say “Leave it.”
  • Next, give your dog the treat only when he looks up at you as he moves away from the first fist.

Once your dog consistently moves away from the first treat and gives you eye contact when you say the command, you’re ready to take it up a notch. For this next training method, use two different treats: one that’s good but not super-appealing and one that’s particularly good-smelling and tasty for your pup.

  • Say “Leave it,” place the less-attractive treat on the floor and cover it with your hand.
  • Wait until your dog ignores that treat and looks at you. Then remove that treat from the floor, give him the better treat and share affection immediately.
  • Once he’s got it, place the less-tasty treat on the floor but don’t completely cover it with your hand. Instead, hold your hand a little bit above the treat . Over time, gradually move your hand farther and farther away until your hand is about 6 inches above.
  • Now he’s ready to practice with you standing up! Follow the same steps, but if he tries to snatch the less-tasty treat, cover it with your foot.

Don’t rush the process of teaching your pup any one of these dog training commands. Remember, you’re asking a lot of your dog. If you take it up a notch and he’s really struggling, go back to the previous stage.

This list of dog commands can help protect your dog from dangerous situations as well as improve your communication with him. Taking the time to teach your pup these common dog commands is well worth the investment of your time and effort. Remember, the training process takes time, so start a dog-obedience training session only if you’re in the right mindset to practice calm-assertive energy and patience.

In this Article

  • How Should You Train Your Dog?
  • Understand How Your Dog Learns
  • Obedience Training Rewards
  • Control Consequences Effectively
  • Training New Skills
  • Basic Obedience Dog Training
  • Finding Help and More Information

Most people love their furry companions. However, not every moment is enjoyable when your dog isn’t trained to behave in specific ways or avoid unwanted behaviors.В

There are many techniques passed on from unknown sources that tell you the best ways to get your dog not to do something. But what is the best method, and how do you use these techniques?

Learn the most common methods for how to train your dog, as well as what techniques not to use.

How Should You Train Your Dog?

There are two common methods of training a dog.В

The first is the aversive-based method. The second is the reward-based method. Aversive-based (discipline) training is when you use positive punishment and negative reinforcement techniques with your dog. Reward-based methods use rewards only for the behaviors that you want your dog to follow.

Aversive-based training uses techniques like loud, unpleasant noises, physical corrections, and harsh scoldings to get your dog to act the way you want. On the other hand, reward-based training uses rewards whenever your dog does something you want it to do. Treats, belly rubs, or other dog-pleasing actions are used to reinforce that a behavior was good.В

Different experts prefer one method over the other. The one that you use is completely up to you.В

Some people believe that a rewards-based method sets up an “event sequence” for your dog where they associate you with happy feelings when they do what they’re told. Aversive-based methods do just the opposite, where they fear you. That fear means that your dog does what they are told to avoid unpleasant feelings.

Understand How Your Dog Learns

Dogs learn a lot like little kids. They are close in intelligence to human two-year-olds. Immediate consequences are all that they care about. As they grow, they begin to understand our words. Some intelligent breeds will respond to as many as 250! Yet every dog responds to the tone of our voice more than the actual words.В

There are three types of dog intelligence recognized by scientists:

  • Instinctive
  • Adaptive
  • Working and obedience

Instinctive learning is when your dog learns the behaviors they were bred. Adaptive learning is how well your dog learns from their surroundings and the environment around them to solve problems. Working and obedience are how well they learn the tasks and commands that you teach them.

To get your dog to be obedient, you should focus on training that uses obedience techniques and the specific behaviors you want from them. Both aversive- and reward-based training have been proven to work. However, if you’re training your dog to be a loving pet, you should consider reward-based obedience training. This method doesn’t develop fear-based responses in your dog. It actually reinforces your loving relationship with them.В

Obedience Training Rewards

Dogs are smart enough to learn the behaviors that you want them to have. They are also smart enough to learn what they can get away with.В

If you’re wondering how to train a dog with a specific behavior, one of the most effective methods is to give them treats, praise, or affection. Most importantly, the best reward to give them is the one that they want the most. If they are food motivated, treats might work better than praise. If they crave attention from you, then affection might be the best reward.

The main point to focus on is to consistently give your dog rewards for the behavior that you want. Do not reward the behavior you don’t want. When your dog performs the behavior, they should get their reward. If you ask them to lie down and don’t give them a treat until they stand back up, they become confused. They won’t know which behavior the reward was for.

Control Consequences Effectively

When you are using reward-based training, your dog needs to understand that there are consequences for behaving in a way you don’t like. Here the consequences are to withhold their reward when they do something bad.В

For instance, a dog that likes to jump up to greet their humans when they come in the house can be dangerous for an older adult. To train them not to jump up at you, do not greet them or give them attention if they jump up. You should turn around, walk back out the door, and continue doing this until the dog doesn’t jump up. Keep a treat in your hand while you do this.

When the dog doesn’t jump, give them the treat, and repeat the task until your dog doesn’t jump up when you come in. You should try this with all of the people that your dog gets excited to see when they come in your house. This ensures that they give your dog the treat for the correct behavior.

Training New Skills

When you’re teaching your dog something new, remember that they have the attention span and intelligence of a two-year-old. Your training sessions should be short and to the point. Limit them to 15 minutes. Focus on one task or behavior so that they do not become confused.

Make sure that you’re using the same commands for the behaviors that you want. If you use the same word but insert it into sentences differently every time you say it, your dog may not understand. For instance, if you want to train your dog to lie down, you will confuse them if you say “Lie down” one session and then say “Fido, lie down or no treat” later in the day. They might not know what to do.В

Basic Obedience Dog Training

The American Kennel Club recognizes five basic commands that every dog should know. They are:

  • Come
  • Heel
  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Down

Finding Help and More Information

If you’re looking for help training your dog, you could try taking a class at your local American Kennel Club (AKC). Local pet associations can also help you with behavioral problems or with fundamentals. The AKC has over 5,000 clubs around the country.

Show Sources

AKC: “Clubs & Delegates,” “4 Tips for Training Your Dog With Rewards,” “”The Five Commands Every Dog Should Know.”

AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION: Smarter Than You Think: Renowned Canine Researcher Puts Dogs’ Intelligence on Par with 2-Year-old Human.”

Humane Society of the United States: “Stop your dog from jumping up.”

Journal of Veterinary Behavior: “The effects of using aversive training methods in dogs—A review.”

PloS One: “Does training method matter? Evidence for the negative impact of aversive-based methods on companion dog welfare.”

Psychology Today: “Canine Intelligence—Breed Does Matter,” “Reward Training vs. Discipline-Based Dog Training.”

Teaching your dog good recall skills is essential. Knowing she’ll come back when called means you can give her more freedom to roam and sniff on walks without putting her in undue danger. In fact, recall is a skill that may even save her life one day. But when it comes to training your dog in recall skills, where should you start? Read on for tips and strategies.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Training Recall

Step 1: Introducing recall

Start in a quiet, familiar environment, like your home. Standing close to your dog, and making sure she’s focused on you, show her you have a reward in your hand. Then call “Come!” as enthusiastically as you can.

When she comes, give her the treat, along with lots of praise and pets. The goal is to teach your dog that coming to you is the best, most fun thing imaginable, and good things happen when she comes back.

Step 2: Increase distance

Keep repeating the exercise over the next few days and weeks, gradually increasing the distance she must cross to get to you.

If at any stage your dog doesn’t respond correctly, reduce the distance between you until she’s successful, then increase again slowly. Also, try to practice at random times, when your dog doesn’t expect it, to get her accustomed to coming when called at all times.

Step 3: Add distractions

When your dog is successfully coming every time you call, you can move your practice sessions outside and begin adding distractions, like other people and other dogs that your dog has to pass on her way back to you. Note: Make sure this is done in a safe, enclosed area, like a fenced yard!

Keep your dog on a long leash while practicing recall outside until you’re sure she’ll come back when you call, obeying any local laws regarding leash lengths. Never practice off-leash recall exercises anywhere there is even a remote chance that your dog could get hit by a car.

More Tips for How to Achieve Perfect Recall

Use high-value treats and toys as a reward. With lots of competing interests and distractions, you need to really motivate your dog to come to you. The usual biscuit may not cut it! Try a very small chunk of cheese or something else you know your dog loves.

Set your dog up to win. Help your dog feel successful by waiting until she’s had a quick run around and is already coming back towards you before calling her to come.

Don’t repeat yourself. Calling “Come! Come! Come!” over and over again will just teach your dog that she doesn’t have to listen the first time you call. If your dog doesn’t respond, take a step back in your training until you’re successful.

Don’t call your dog only for “negative” reasons. If you only ever recall your dog to put her leash back on and go home, she’ll quickly learn that “come” means the fun is over. To avoid creating this negative association, make sure to recall your dog a few times during each play session, reward her, and then allow her to go and play again.

Recall in an emergency

If you ever need your dog to come back urgently in an emergency, don’t chase her. She’ll likely think it’s a game and keep running away from you. Instead, try running away from her to incentivize her to chase you.

If you ever need your dog to come back urgently in an emergency, don’t chase her. Instead, try running away from her.

Alternatives to off-leash

Some dogs just aren’t great at coming back, and no matter how much training you do, you may not feel comfortable letting them off the lead. That’s okay! Trust your instincts. Dogs still enjoy on-leash walks, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re depriving them—you’re being a responsible dog parent and doing what’s best for them.

Fenced-in dog parks also offer a great opportunity for dogs to run around, play, and socialize, without any worry that they’ll get too far away.


Teaching recall can take months, so stay patient. Just remember to keep praising every success, no matter how small.

Finally, one important note to keep in mind: under no circumstances should a dog ever be allowed off the leash if she is being walked anywhere near cars. Off-leash walking is to be reserved for hiking trails, enclosed parks, and other completely safe locations. Remember that no matter how good your dog’s recall skills are, no dog can be trusted to come back when called 100% of the time. Better to play it safe than sorry!

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Top 10 Dog Training Tips

One of the most important and rewarding things you can do as a pet parent is to train your dog well, but it’s often hard to know how to get started. Since January is national Train Your Dog Month, we thought we’d share some handy tips to help you and your pup get going.

How to Stop Your Dog from Pulling on the Leash

One of the most common complaints among dog owners is leash-pulling. We all dream of the day our dog can walk perfectly by our side—no yanking, no leash wrapping around strangers’ legs, and no tug-of-war tussle on the sidewalk… As frustrating as this behavior may be, it helps to remember that walks are typically the most exciting times of the day for a dog. They’re naturally keen to explore all the new smells and people, but it can be difficult to know how to keep that enthusiasm in check. So check out our tips below to learn how to stop your dog from pulling on the leash!

How to Teach Your Dog Agility

If you’ve ever seen dog agility on TV, you’ll know it’s a fast-paced, exhilarating challenge for dogs and their owners. But as fun as it is to watch, it’s even more fun to put into practice with your dog!

Resource Guarding in Dogs

Resource guarding occurs when dogs exhibit aggressive behaviors, such as barking, biting, and lunging, over food or toys. Resource guarding can stem from fear and anxiety, frustration, and territoriality. It’s important to identify this behavior early and use proper training techniques to improve it.

A well trained dog is a happy dog. A dog that is well behaved can take part in family life and is welcome in more places.

  • A dog that greets politely rather than jumping up will not need to be shut out of the room when visitors arrive
  • A dog that walks on a loose lead is much more likely to be taken for more walks
  • A dog that is under control and comes back when called can be let off the lead and enjoys more freedom and exercise. This ensures the dog has more mental and physical exercise and will be better behaved in other situations.
  • Giving your dog food or toys to reward the behaviour you want makes it fun for both of you. You will also get to know each other better, which in turn ensures you have a strong bond.

How dogs learn

Dogs learn by association, so if your dog does something and is rewarded, the action is much more likely to be repeated. For this to be effective the reward must be linked to the action. When training, this means the dog should get the reward within one second of the action.

Things to remember when training your dog

  • Make learning fun. Your dog will respond much more quickly, and if you do make mistakes the dog will not be afraid of trying again. If the dog does make a mistake it is your fault. Try again, but this time ensure you are in a position to help your dog to get it right.
  • Keep sessions short (about two minutes) and practise about five to six times every day
  • Practise in different areas, for example in the house, out on walks and in the garden, but keep distractions to a minimum until your dog understands your requests
  • When to reward:
    – all the time for the right movements
    – then for the whole action
    – then for best attempts
  • Rewards can be:
    – food (this can be part of your dog’s dinner or small treats)
    – praise

Remember it is only a reward if your dog wants it.

Equipment needed to train your dog

A correctly fitting flat buckle collar or “Gentle Leader” headcollar, long lead, titbits, toys and a list of the commands you are going to use (to ensure consistency).

Training for life

Remember you need to repeat these exercises a few times a day, every day, until your dog is trained. Once trained, you can maintain your dog’s response by occasionally going back to basics and rewarding the behaviour you want.

How to get your dog to pay attention and respond to its name

Hold the reward between your and your dog’s eyeline, say your dog’s name and as soon as your dog looks at you, give the reward.

When your dog pays attention to its name you can teach the dog to come when called.

Come when called

  • Show your dog the toy or food
  • Run away a couple of paces
  • Call your dog’s name and say “come”in a happy voice
  • As the dog comes to you, hold the collar and either feed or play with your dog
  • Gradually increase the distance that you are from your dog, until eventually you can call your dog in and out of the garden or from room to room
  • Only call when you are going to praise your dog – do not call your dog if you are going to punish or shout at it

Recall your dog regularly when out on a walk and give a reward. Don’t call your dog just to put it back on the lead.

How to get your dog to “sit” on command

Lure your dog into position with a titbit just above its nose, then move your hand over the dog’s back.

As the dog’s head tilts up and back the dog will sit. As your dog actually sits, say the command “sit”. Don’t say it before the dog moves into position or your dog may associate it with the wrong movement.

Caution – if the reward is held too high, or moved too quickly, your dog may jump up or back off.

Practise the sit at kerbs, or when greeting people ask your dog to sit rather than jumping up – remember to reward!

How to get your dog to go “down” on command

From the “sit” position it is easy to lure your dog to the “down” position.

Place your hand just under the dog’s chin near to the chest – lower your hand to the floor.

When on the floor, slowly draw your hand forward and the dog will follow it into a down position. As your dog lies down, say “down”.

If your dog isn’t lying down, try teaching the command under your leg or chair so that the dog has to lower its body.

How to get your dog to “wait” or “stay”

When you have taught your dog to sit and lay down on command, you can extend these exercises to include the dog staying in one place. Ask your dog to “sit” or “down” then, instead of giving the titbit straight away, wait for a few seconds and say “wait” or “stay”.

How to train your dog to walk on a loose lead

Before you begin training, decide which side your dog will walk on and how far in front you are prepared to allow your dog to go. You may also consider using a Gentle Leader since used correctly, this will stop the dog pulling and will give you control of large or powerful dogs.

Pulling often starts before you even leave the house, so training your dog to walk on a loose lead starts with getting your dog to sit quietly as a lead is put on.

With your dog sitting at your side, set off and give the command “heel” (so that your dog is aware you are about to move). If the dog gets ahead, stop and encourage it back to your side with a titbit. Repeat. To begin with, stop every three to four paces to praise your dog and give a titbit. Do not use your voice unless your dog is at your side. You can also practise this off-lead in a secure area – this makes you work really hard at keeping your dog with you, rather than relying on the lead.

How to teach your dog to “leave” or understand “off”

Teaching a “leave” or “off” command helps teach your dog self control and is also useful in the following handling exercise.

Continue to give titbits, but every third or fourth time say “off” or “leave” and keep the titbit between your fingers and thumb so that your dog can’t eat it. Don’t move your hand away as that will encourage snatching, but as soon as your dog stops nibbling your fingers and moves away slightly, immediately reward by saying

“take it” and allowing the dog to eat the titbit. The dog learns to back off in order to receive the titbit.

Getting your dog used to handling, grooming and restraint

Your dog must learn to be touched all over so that you are able to go to the vets, give medication, clean teeth and feet and so on.

When your dog has learned the “off” command you can hold a titbit just in front of your dog and gently handle your dog. Start by briefly holding a paw, lifting a lip or stroking under the tummy, then allow the dog to take the titbit. You will be keeping your dog’s attention on the food and rewarding your dog for being handled in one exercise.

Go on to teach your dog more useful things

When your dog has learned the basics and learned to work for rewards, you can teach lots of fun and useful things such as: go to bed, settle, retrieve and tricks such as shutting doors, roll over, give a paw and so on.

You may also consider joining a dog training club for your dog to work towards gaining the Kennel Club Good Citizen Award, or taking part in a sport such as agility. The Kennel Club and Association of Pet Dog Trainers will have a list of training clubs.

Teach your dog these basic obedience commands for a well-behaved pup.

How to train a dog to come

How to train a dog to come

When you get a new dog, whether it’s a puppy or an adult rescue, she probably needs some obedience training. More specifically, a well-behaved pup should respond to seven directions in order to become a good canine citizen: Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Heel, Off, and No. Expert trainer Brandon McMillan, Emmy Award–winning host of Lucky Dog and author of Lucky Dog Lessons: Train Your Dog in 7 Days, calls these the “seven common commands” because they’re the ones most people will use with their pets on a routine basis. He teaches these training lessons to all of his rescue dogs, in order to help them stay safe and well-behaved, whether they spend most of their time in the backyard, at the dog park, or walking the neighborhood with their human companions. With several 10-to-15-minute practice sessions each day, most pets can master these core skills in just a week or two.

How to train a dog to come

McMillan always teaches Sit first because it’s the most natural concept for most dogs. It’s therefore also one of the easiest for them to learn, so even pets who are new to training can get the hang of it within a few sessions. And because it’s also a transition command, once a dog can sit, you can move on to other directives.

How to train a dog to come

McMillan compares his favorite dog training technique, Down, to taking the keys out of a car’s ignition. A standing dog could bolt like a running vehicle, because there’s nothing keeping her in place. A sitting dog is like a car in Park, but it’s still easy for her to boogey out of there. But when she’s lying down, you’ve cut the engine. Because the command helps you control your dog, it’s also a great transition to more complicated tricks like rolling over or playing dead.

How to train a dog to come

A dog who knows how to stay won’t run into the street if she gets loose, so this is one of the most important skills for any dog to learn. McMillan recommends teaching it when your pup is tired and hungry so she won’t get too hyper to focus. And be patient: Most dogs take at least a couple of days to understand Stay and it can take a few weeks to master it. But because it protects your dog from danger, keep a bag of treats or kibble handy and keep practicing until she’s a pro.

How to train a dog to come

If you plan to take your dog anywhere off-leash, she must know how to come when called. It can keep her safe at the dog park if a scuffle breaks out, get her away from the street if she breaks off the leash, or ensure she stays close when hiking or just fooling around in the backyard. McMillan teaches Come after Stay, since having the Stay skill first makes the process easier.

How to train a dog to come

Dogs of all sizes should learn to heel, or walk calmly by your side, especially if you exercise your pup in busy urban areas where there’s not much room on the sidewalk. The skill is even more important for large or strong pups who naturally pull on the leash. Once a dog can heel, walks will be easier and more pleasant for your dog and your arm socket.

How to train a dog to come

Jumping on visitors or furniture is one of the most common dog issues, so if your pooch can’t keep four paws on the floor, don’t despair. Get her to stay off by turning your back when she jumps up, grabbing her paws and shaking a plastic bottle filled with pennies while you say “Off,” suggests McMillan. All of those things discourage jumping, so try a few to see which clicks with your pet.

How to train a dog to come

Some trainers teach both No and Leave It for slightly different situations, such as using No when a dog shouldn’t do something and Leave it for when you want your pup not to investigate an item or situation. McMillan sticks to No, period, to keep things simple. He says explaining the difference can confuse both people and animals, so No makes a good, all-purpose command for everything you want your pup not to do.

I am an experimental psychologist (professor at a university) with expertise in animal learning & behavior.В I am also a dog trainer.В People often ask me, “How do you train a dog?”В I prefer a scientific approach, since that is how I was trained.В In this article, I will describe six concepts that I find useful in training my own dogs as well as helping other people train theirs.

1. Criterion

The criterion of a behavior is a clear definition of it (that people can easily agree on).В It makes clear exactly what the dog is expected to do.В In scientific terms, the criterion is known as an “Operational Definition” or concept defined by how it is measured.

Let us use “the Recall” as an example.В When a person calls their dog, they want it to come to them.В But is moving towards you good enough?В Is sitting near you?В How close?В In front or at the side?В Since I believe it is good to keep it simple, my criterion for the recall is being able to touch the dog’s collar.В In other words, my dog has performed the recall when it comes to me and is close enough so that I am able to touch its collar.В It is at that point, that I praise the dog.

Another example of the criterion is using the words “Down” (elbows and butt on floor) versus “Off” (4 on floor) with a dog.В Each concept is different. В Many folks treat this as one cue/command which makes it more difficult for the dog since what it should do is not being made clear.В In summary, having clear and consistent criteria for the behaviors that we want the dog to perform makes the training process easier.

Luring is a technique for getting the dog to do what you want without physical assistance.В A worthy example is using a piece of food hidden between the fingers of your hand (kept a couple of inches in front of a dogs nose) to pull the dog like a magnet into the position you want it to assume.В The dog must be interested (hungry).В Using this technique, the dog will typically sit when the food lure is placed above and slightly back over its head.В When the dog’s butt hits the ground (the criterion for sitting), one says the word “good” and then releases the food into the dog’s mouth.В Various positions, such as “the Down”, “the Sit”, “the Stand”, and more active behaviors such as “Rolling Over” and “Heeling” can also be obtained by using the food as a magnet to guide the dog’s nose (and thus, body) into the position you want.В In still more advanced forms of luring, the lure is moved away from the handler and dog and is then called a “Target”.

From a scientific perspective, luring would be referred to as “Sign Tracking”, “Classical Conditioning”, or “Pavlovian conditioning”.В Yes, this concept has to do with Pavlov’s drooling dogs.В It is a type of learning where the animal learns what predicts what.

3. Rewarding

Rewarding is a technique where a pleasant consequence (something good) occurs when the dog performs a behavior. When the dog’s behavior is immediately followed by something pleasant, it will be more likely to perform that behavior again in the future. After spending some time luring the dog to get it to do what you want, the dog will typically begin to anticipate and perform the behavior without the lure. At this point, one should say the word “good” (or use a clicker) and then reward the dog. Over time, the lure can be faded away and the dog will begin to do what you ask without the treat magnet. It should be promptly rewarded for this. Food makes a good reward initially. Ultimately, play and praise can and should be used as well. In fact, whatever the dog enjoys makes a good reward. In other words, pleasant events should be the consequence of appropriate behavior.

The other side of pleasant events is unpleasant or aversive events. Folks speak of punishment to decrease behaviors and punishment typically employs aversive events. Punishment is thus more controversial than reward. Punishment can lead to undesirable behaviors (like hand shyness and other fear responses). I would argue that punishment is more difficult to use appropriately and effectively than reward and is less forgiving of mistakes in training.

From a scientific perspective, reward and punishment deal with “Operant Conditioning” (also called “Skinnerian Conditioning” or “Trial and Error Learning”). This type of learning is concerned with how the animal gets what it wants or avoids/escapes what it does not want.

Shaping is a technique for teaching an animal a behavior by rewarding successive approximations to it.В It involves starting with a facsimile of the behavior desired and gradually incrementing the criterion until the desired behavior is obtained.

A simple example of shaping is “the Stay”.В Initially, having the dog hold the Stay for a few seconds is good.В Over time, we gradually increase the duration of the stay required (shape the behavior) until achieving several minutes.В A more complex example of shaping is having a dog turn on a light switch.В Typically, this kind of task would be broken down into the various behaviors that make it up and each would be taught separately.В Ultimately these behaviors would be “chained” together to form the whole behavior sequence.

5. Prompting

Prompting is a technique which involves providing the minimal amount of physical assistance required to get the dog to perform the desired behavior.В The word “minimal” is important, otherwise, the prompt is likely to be aversive (in which case we are then dealing with punishment).

Prompting is similar to training wheels on a bicycle.В The goal of prompting is to help the dog perform the behavior so that it can be rewarded for it. В For example, sometimes luring a dog into a down with a piece of food placed near its nose and then slowly moving it between its front two legs toward the ground is not enough to get the behavior.В The dog will put its elbows on the ground, but not its butt.В In this case, gently placing a finger between its shoulder blades will often get the dog to drop its butt.В A more complex example would be using a wall or fence to help teach a dog to back up when at your side.В In this case, the fence serves as the prompt rather than you having to physically manipulate the dog.

Honoring is a set of skills on the part of the dog that involves self-restraint or self-control. В For example, in food honoring, the dog has to resign itself to not getting the food (at least for a brief period) in order to get it.В In the initial training of food honoring (the “Leave it”), the dog should quickly be rewarded for any behavior incompatible with grabbing at the food.В When I train this, the reward involves releasing the dog (with a word like “OK”), so that it can eat the food it wanted but restrained itself from eating.В The release word gives the dog permission.

Typically, one starts out by teaching the dog to honor food and then toys follow.В Ultimately, other dogs, people, and other distractions should be honored as well. В In more advanced training, the dog may be required to maintain eye contact with handler in order to be released.

Each of these six concepts could be discussed in a lot more detail and there are others that might be worthy of inclusion.В However, I think this brief overview provides a good foundation for a gentle-handed training philosophy.В I believe training should be fun for both the dog and handler.В In this way, training is likely to continue and lead to a strong and enjoyable bond.В In addition, the dog will become well behaved.

In our dog behaviour series, you will learn how to train your dog using positive reinforcement, guided by our expert Canine Behavioural Team.

Dogs learn by making positive associations. For instance, if your dog is always given their favourite treat when they sit, they will associate sitting with their favourite things.

Repetition is key when it comes to training your dog. In order to avoid confusion, any behaviours that you do not want your dog to repeat should be ignored. Instead, you could teach them a behaviour that you can reward. For example, a dog who jumps up for attention could learn to sit to receive attention as an alternative.

Watch our ‘Introduction to Training’ video guide, it’s a great way to start learning the basics of training.

How to reward your dog

Rewards come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s important to work out what motivates your dog. This can change throughout the day. First thing in the morning being let out to go to the toilet is rewarding, but once that is done, the biggest reward might be breakfast. Out on a walk, when they are active, playing with toys may be the best reward for coming back to you. Work out what motivates your dog at different times and training will become much easier.

What to do when you can’t ignore your dog’s behaviour

Sometimes our dogs perform a behaviour that we do not want them to repeat but it is not possible to ignore it. In this situation, you can try to distract them with another behaviour e.g. asking them to sit.

The behaviour that you ask for would depend on the undesirable behaviour that your dog is showing, so you should aim to ask for a behaviour that is incompatible with the undesirable behaviour. For example, using a down command if a dog is jumping up at you. Ideally you then want to pre-empt the undesirable behaviour and ask for the incompatible one first, so you can focus on positives.

When to reward your dog

The timing of your reward is crucial for effective communication with your dog. Bad timing can result in encouraging an unwanted behaviour. For example, if your dog barks at the front door and you throw food to distract them, you may end up encouraging the barking because it is being reinforced by the food.

Delivering the reward as soon as your dog has completed the desired behaviour will help them to understand what you want. For instance, if you are teaching your dog to sit then you would need to be quick so that you reward when your dog is still sitting rather than when they’ve just got up.

At Battersea, we often use clickers to “mark” desired behaviours because they are a very clear, short sound that can help to snapshot the desired behaviour. We can also use a specific word instead of the clicker like “yes”.

How to clicker train your dog

Clicker training is a positive, reward-based training method which relies on consistency, repetition and positive reinforcement. The way you train your dog is the same, but the clicker provides a clear signal that they’ve got it right and a reward is on the way, which can speed up your training process.

The clicker is a small box that makes a quick, clear, consistent and distinctive sound when pressed. It serves to accurately mark the behaviours that you want in your dog and provides them with clear information. Once your dog understands that the click marks the correct behaviour, you can use it to train any number of things.

Some dogs may be frightened of the click sound. There are many different clickers available on the market, some with adjustable volumes. You may wish to try putting a piece of sticky tack on the metal part of the clicker to soften the sound in extreme cases of noise fear or use a marker word rather than the clicker e.g. “yes”. With a marker word it is important that you choose a word your dog doesn’t hear a lot such as “good dog”.

Step by step guide to clicker training your dog

You will need your dog, a clicker and tasty treats.

First, you need to associate the sound of the click with a reward. You can easily do this by clicking and instantly giving a reward without asking them to perform anything. It will be clear that they understand the click when they look for the treat on hearing it. Always reward after the click to ensure they know that the click means they get a treat.

Once you have achieved this, you can progress to using the clicker to teach tricks, and also to focus and improve other behaviours.

To teach a command:

  • With your dog focused on a treat, lure them into the position you require
  • As soon as they are in the correct position, click and reward with the treat
  • Repeat this until your dog is able to do the behaviour simply by hand signal
  • You can then begin to add a word to the action

Keeping up motivation when training your dog

Once your dog is consistently performing a desired behaviour then it is not necessary to use food each time. Introducing them to different types of rewards will keep them interested in the task at hand. They should still get rewarded each time they perform the correct behaviour but sometimes this could be with verbal praise and other times with their favourite treat.

If they do something exceptionally well (either very quickly, or in a more distracting situation) you can give them a bigger “jackpot” reward, like cheese or chicken as well as lots of enthusiastic praise. This technique keeps your dog motivated and excited to do well.

Download the advice on this page as a handy advice sheet and to use as a reminder:

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A step by step guide on teaching your dog to sit

How to train a dog to come

Before we get into training techniques, it is best to get one thing straight – dogs are going to bark. Unless you are going to be the proud owner of a Basenji, bred from stock that originated in central Africa, one of the only known dogs to not be able to bark, there are going to be times where your pooch barks. It is in their nature, and to expect your dog never to bark is being unreasonable.

What is not unreasonable, however, is wanting to train your dog to control or reduce its barking. Whether it is to save your ears, the neighbours’ ears, from others mistaking barking for aggression or another reason, there are techniques you can follow to keep your dogs barking controlled.

Another thing to know initially is that the longer your dog has been barking, the harder it is going to be to train it out of them. So get ready to be patient with your pet. Consistency is vital; if your dog is getting mixed messages from you, your family or extended carers, then they are going to become confused. When you are training a dog, no matter what it is, having consistency from everyone that comes into contact with your dog is best. Raising your voice and shouting over your dog to quiet them might be a short term solution, but it will not remove the reason for your dog’s barking. It is the reason that they are barking that you need to understand before you can effectively train them to stop doing it. But trying to be the most prominent voice in the room your dog is going to find any commands harder to understand and might think you are joining in. Try the following techniques and give them time to have an impact.

Remove the Motivation for Barking

If your dog is barking out of the window frequently, or when they are in the garden, try to remove their motivation for barking. For instance, close the curtains until they stop, and then praise them when they do. Similarly, if they are barking in the garden, bring them inside (this will require a level of recall that will need to be embedded prior). Once they come inside and stop barking, praise them and give them a fitting treat.

Removing their motivation and praising them when they stop barking could work well in getting your dog to understand you appreciate it.

Ignore your Dog Until They are Quiet

While this can come across as just ignoring the issue altogether, ignoring a behaviour you are not happy with is much better than getting angry or aggressive. You want to instil an understanding and trust within your dog. If they are rewarded when they cease barking, the positive reinforcement will begin to make an impact on their behaviour until you no longer need to reward them.

This tactic can be trying if your dog barks for a very long period it can be very difficult not to shout out. If you find yourself at breaking point, try removing the dog’s stimulus or make them move away from the situation that is making them bark.

Desensitise them to Barking Stimulus

If you find that certain stimuli is making your dog bark time after time, teaching them to relax when this stimulus occurs in an option. If it is people walking past your window, for instance, get a friend to do this, and reward your dog each time they ignore them. If every time people get within a certain distance, your dog barks, have your friend approach slowly and reward your dog for taking no interest at each instance. This will not be resolved in one go, and repetition and consistency are key here.

The same type of training goes for sounds that set your dog off, try recording these sounds on your phone. Play them, but increase the volume each time. Each time you play the audio, and if your dog does not bark, reward and praise them.

Teach Them an Incompatible Command

Another technique you could try is teaching your dog a command that is incompatible with barking. Barking can be a protective, dominant, attention-seeking or fearful reaction. If, for instance, your door bell goes and your dog is barking, teach them a counter-intuitive command like returning to their bed, or lying down. When your dog follows these commands reward them, but only if they stop barking.

Remaining calm while you give commands and not appearing to be in a fluster will also help your pet understand and eventually reciprocate the calm of these operations. If every time you answer the door, you are running or fumbling; your dog may learn the wild nature of an entrance to your home and act up.

Calmly request they follow another command, answer the door and reward them when they are quiet.

Do Not Turn to any Shock or Bark Collar

Do not be fooled into thinking that bark collars, or worse, shock collars, are an answer to the problem. If anything, these collars add another obstacle to the situation and are highly likely to make an anxious dog worse. When dogs bark, there is a reason. If you learn the reason and aim to tackle it, you will be doing far better than a collar which looks to distract or scare the dog out of what it will feel is a natural response.

Dog and Puppy Training When You Need it Most

If you have tried all the above techniques and none of them is working, it may be that your dog needs some help with their behaviour. It could also be that you need to learn how dogs behave and your place in helping the control that. Contact Country Boarding today, our friendly and professional staff are here to help with dog and puppy training. We can visit, or you can come to classes.

Any questions? Get in contact today to further discuss your needs. Or, directly call us from a mobile.

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Object of this exercise is to train your dog to respond to a whistle – and to stop what he is doing and return immediately to the person blowing the whistle. But this exercise is not a substitute for the verbal recall; your dog should be trained to respond to both the whistle and the command come.

After you have trained a reliable verbal recall you can begin with the whistle training. Advantages: The whistle carries further than your voice, and the dog will respond to the whistle no matter who is blowing it.


  • Take your dog to a room with no distractions. Have some special treats in your pocket and the whistle around your neck.
  • When the dog is paying no attention to you, blow the whistle – one short blast- and wait until the dog comes over to you to investigate.
  • As soon as he does, praise and give him a very special treat. Repeat the same sequence as soon as he is no longer paying any attention to you.
  • The dog will learn to come to you when he hears the whistle because he is rewarded for doing so every time. No need for talking during the exercise, but you can certainly praise him. No coaxing or begging for the dog to come.
  • Repeat this exercise until your dog makes the connection between the whistle and the reward. This will be apparent to you by the eager response to the whistle blast. Practice 5 times on the first session and 3 times per session thereafter. Only practice this exercise every second day or 3 days during the week.
  • Only reward with something of extremely high value to the dog, something he would never get otherwise. You have to make it worth his while to stop and come running no matter what he is doing. Blow the whistle to give him a bone for chewing.

Watch for:

  • If your dog is particularly sensitive to sounds, blow the whistle quietly. The sound of the whistle should be the only stimulus that attracts the dog to you. Do not give any other commands or signals to try and attract the dog to come to you as that would defeat the object of this exercise.
  • The dog must be rewarded every single time he comes after the whistle blast.
  • The next progression is for you and your dog to practice in a confined area. Blow the whistle and praise / reward your dog for coming to you.
  • Practice this only three times per session and in three different locations. It’s important to change location as dogs don’t generalize very well.

Final Progression

Continue practicing this exercise in a confined area. By now you will be able to tell whether or not your dog is reliable returning when you blow the whistle. The value of this exercise is that it gives you a means of having your dog return from a distance should you need him to return fast.

Only you can decide whether or not your dog is dependable enough to be trusted off leash under such circumstances. I only use this recall once a week to keep it in check. I reward the dog lavishly for stopping, turning and running back to me no matter what the distraction may be.

For even more training and behavior tips, visit The Pee Press!

By: Chewy Editorial Updated: January 20, 2021

How to train a dog to come

BeWell > Wellness > How to Train Your Dog Not to Jump on Guests

How to Train Your Dog Not to Jump on Guests

Contributed by Irith Bloom, faculty at Victoria Stilwell Academy and certified animal trainer with multiple certifications, including CPDT-KSA, CDBC, VSPDT, KPA CTP, and CBATI.

My dog Franklin used to have a bad habit of jumping on guests when they entered my home. I found this embarrassing, even though I was lucky that most of my visitors were dog lovers who didn’t really mind too much. Some guests, however, were not huge fans of dogs in general, and found being jumped on distasteful or even uncomfortable. I knew it was time for some dog training.

When thinking about how to train a dog not to jump, it’s important to consider the purpose of the jumping, from the dog’s point of view. For most excited dogs like Franklin, the goal of jumping on people is interaction. Jumping up lets excited dogs smell and see more of our bodies. Excited dogs often want attention, such as being petted or talked to. Unfortunately, many dogs have learned that jumping up is a great way to get attention, which was certainly the case for Franklin.

In dog training or puppy training, the key is always to focus on reinforcing behavior that we like, and avoid reinforcement of behavior we don’t like. Note that I didn’t say “punish” or “correct” behavior we don’t like. That is because in many cases, so-called punishment or correction can have the opposite effect from what we want.

Since excited dogs often jump up to get attention, saying “No” to a dog, or pushing him down as he jumps, may actually make him more likely to jump up again. After all, you just gave the dog attention, right? In fact, all these years later, while Franklin no longer jumps on 99.9% of my guests, there is still one guest he jumps on just a little. It’s the one who could not simply ignore him, but instead would say “No” and push Franklin down when he jumped. With everyone else, Franklin keeps all four paws on the ground, but with her, he still lifts up his front paws slightly for a moment before he settles.

Whether you are looking to train a dog not to jump or dealing with another behavior issue, the best way to get rid of a behavior you don’t like is to train a different behavior that is incompatible with the undesired behavior (in other words, these behaviors cannot be done at the same time). Here are three ways to train your dog to do something other than jumping when guests arrive:

1. Set up a Barrier

Place a barrier, such as an ex-pen or a baby gate like the Carlson Pet Products Extra Wide Walk-Thru Gate with Pet Door, at a reasonable distance away from the door. Because of the layout of my entryway, setting up a barrier was not going to be easy in my case, so I couldn’t do this with Franklin, but I do recommend it highly.

Once the barrier is set up, put the dog behind it when people come to the door. Help keep your dog happy back there by giving him treats, such as Blue Buffalo Blue Bits Tasty Chicken Recipe Dog Training Treats. Scatter dog treats on the floor behind the gate. Since your dog will need to look down to eat the treats, this will help him learn to keep all four paws on the ground as guests come in. After that, you can employ the “Sit to greet” training described next.

2. Teach Your Dog to Sit to Greet

This is what I decided to do, since a barrier was not a good option, and Franklin already knew how to sit on cue. Start out by using treats, such as Zuke’s Mini Naturals Chicken Recipe Dog Treats, to teach your dog to sit. Once your dog understands how to sit on cue, you can begin to teach your dog to sit when people walk up to him. To do this, have a person start approaching from far away, ideally while your dog is behind a barrier. As soon as the person steps forward, cue your dog to sit. Then feed your dog a treat for sitting. Continue feeding your dog treats while the person approaches, as long as the dog stays seated.

If at any point your dog pops out of the sit, have the person walk away, and start over. Keep practicing until your dog can stay seated until the person is in front of the dog, on the other side of the barrier. Have the person pet the dog and feed treats as long as the dog stays in a sit. If the dog jumps up, the person should walk away. Eventually, the dog will learn to sit automatically as people approach—before you even give the cue to sit—since he will realize that sitting when people come towards him earns treats and petting.

Once your dog is automatically sitting for petting and treats, repeat the procedure without the barrier, but with your dog on a leash so he can’t rush over to the guest. (If, like me, you can’t put up a barrier, you can use the leash right from the beginning.) Start at a far distance, as before, and have the guest walk away whenever the dog pops out of the sit. Once your dog is successful with a leash on, you can repeat the procedure again, starting from the same far distance, without the leash.

One more tip: If the person ignores your instructions and talks to or touches the dog when he jumps up, that is likely to undermine your training. Pick training assistants who can follow instructions while you practice, or you may wind up with one person who will always be jumped on when visiting.

3. Teach Your Dog to Go to a Mat on Cue

This is a great behavior for a variety of situations, not just jumping up. For example, Franklin has a mat he stays on during meals, so he’s not underfoot and is too far away to beg. You can use treats such as Fruitables Skinny Minis Apple Bacon Flavor Dog Treats or Wellness Soft Puppy Bites Lamb & Salmon Recipe Dog Treats. Then, whenever someone enters the house, send your dog to his mat. Once he is there, you can give him a treat or two, and then release him to greet the person, assuming the person likes dogs.

Cut your training treats into pieces that are no bigger than your pinky nail. The goal is to be able to feed lots of treats as we train without causing the dog to become overweight. One treat I like since it breaks into small pieces so easily is Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose Dinner Patties. This is technically a complete food, but dogs find it really tasty, and it’s a great choice for small dogs and dogs with sensitive tummies. I also like Real Meat Company Beef Jerky Bitz, which are easy to cut. All of these treats get two paws up from Franklin, whose motto is the more treats, the merrier.

Another option is to mix treats with your dog’s regular food in a small bag. The regular food will pick up the smell of the treats, and neither you nor the dog will know in advance if he’ll get his regular food or a treat for the next repetition.

No matter which treats and techniques you choose, remember that consistency is the key to success. Practice regularly, working at a level your dog can handle, and before you know it, your guests will be complimenting you on your well-behaved dog. (Except for that one person who still says “No” and pushes the dog down, that is. *sigh*)

How to train a dog to come

House training your dog or puppy requires patience, commitment and lots of consistency. Accidents are part of the process, but if you follow these basic house training guidelines, you can get the newest member of your family on the right track.

To potty train your puppy, establish a routine

Puppies do best on a regular schedule. The schedule teaches them that there are times to eat, times to play and times to do their business. Typically, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is 2 months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Don’t go longer than this between bathroom breaks or they’re likely to have an accident.

Take your puppy outside frequently—at least every two hours—and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking.

Pick a bathroom spot outside, and always take your puppy (on a leash) to that spot. While your puppy is relieving themselves, use a specific word or phrase that you can eventually use before they go to remind them what to do. Take them out for a longer walk or some playtime only after they have eliminated.

Reward your puppy every time they eliminate outdoors. Praise or give treats—but remember to do so immediately after they’ve finished, not after they come back inside. This step is vital, because rewarding your dog for going outdoors is the only way to teach what’s expected of them. Before rewarding, be sure they’re finished. Puppies are easily distracted and if you praise too soon, they may forget to finish until they’re back in the house.

Put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. What goes into a puppy on a schedule comes out of a puppy on a schedule. Depending on their age, puppies may need to be fed two or three times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that they’ll eliminate at consistent times as well, making house training easier for both of you.

Pick up your puppy’s water dish about two and a half hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood that they’ll need to relieve themselves during the night. Most puppies can sleep for approximately seven hours without needing a bathroom break. If your puppy does wake you up in the night, don’t make a big deal of it; otherwise, they will think it is time to play and won’t want to go back to sleep. Turn on as few lights as possible, don’t talk to or play with your puppy, take them out to the spot where they relieve themselves and then return them to bed.

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By Victoria Schade

Dogs are eager students from the time that they’re very young (some breeders even begin basic training with pups as young as five weeks old), so it’s never too early to begin training.

You can start your puppy off on the right paw by teaching good manners from the moment you bring him home. Every interaction that you have with your puppy is a learning opportunity, and with gentle guidance, you can help him understand important lessons like how to greet new friends without jumping up, how to wait quietly for dinner and what to do with those puppy teeth.

Interacting with your dog in a way that seamlessly weaves manners into his everyday life sets the stage for future training. Plus it’s easier to add positive behaviors to your puppy’s repertoire than it is to “un-train” negative ones.

Common Reasons for Training

The most obvious reasons for training your dog are to instill good behaviors and prevent inappropriate ones from developing, but there are many other reasons why working with your dog is important, such as:

  • Life skills: Training your dog gives the two of you a common language and teaches your dog how to navigate our world.
  • Freedom: Training is your dog’s passport to the world. The well-trained dog can go to more places, meet more people and have more adventures because he follows the rules.
  • Ambassador skills: Dogs and humans alike enjoy being around a polite pup that knows how to hang.
  • Peace of mind: When your dog has mastered training, you don’t have to worry that he’s going to run out the door and not come home or drag you down the street until your shoulder is sore.
  • Bonding: Working through basic training exercises as a team helps to cement your relationship with your new best friend.
  • Mental exercise: Dogs need to work their bodies and their brains. Even though many basic training lessons don’t require much physical exertion, the mental aspect of figuring out the exercise can tire even the most active puppies.

When to Start Dog Training

The specifics as to when a puppy should attend formal training have shifted to take the critical periods of dog socialization into account. Traditional advice suggested waiting until a puppy receives a full series of vaccinations, but it’s now understood that the risk of under-socialization during this important developmental period far outweighs the risk of potential illness. According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, puppies can start socialization classes as early as seven to eight weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least seven days prior to the first class and a first deworming and should be kept up-to-date on vaccines.

Accepted Methods for Training

Dog training has changed a great deal in the past 25 years, and we now know much more about how dogs learn and the most effective ways to motivate them. While dog training in the past relied on being the “alpha” in the relationship and required equipment like correction collars (or choke collars), behavioral science proves that it’s much more effective to use positive reinforcement training, where training is a team activity with both parties working together to achieve goals.

Positive-reinforcement is the methodology suggested by humane organizations, veterinary associations and dog trainers alike. This type of training focuses on rewarding desired behaviors using something that the dog values (typically treats), removing the reward for undesired behaviors and not using physical punishment or fear to bring about behavioral change.

Clicker training is a wonderful way to utilize the power of positive reinforcement. The clicker, a small device that makes a precise noise, effectively marks when your dog has performed the correct action that will pay off with a food reward. Once your dog has mastered the behavior, you can wean them off of the clicker and put it away until it’s time to teach something new. Clicker training can be used for everything from teaching the basics like “sit,” “down” and “come” to more complex behavioral modification for challenges like leash aggression.

Tools Needed For Dog Training

To begin training your dog, you’ll need to following:

  • A dog collar or dog harness: choose a collar or harness that doesn’t pinch or tighten. Your dog should feel comfortable in his collar.
  • A fixed-length dog leash: opt for a leash that’s between four and six feet; anything shorter might not give your dog enough space to find the right potty spot and anything longer might be difficult to manage.
  • Dog treats: use something moist and meaty that your dog really loves.
  • A dog clicker: a training tool that makes the process seem like a game.
  • A crate: this is your dog’s second home when you can’t watch him and will be used for potty training.

Potty Training

Potty training is a behavior your dog can learn quickly, provided that you supervise your puppy, stick to a schedule and reward successes. Supervision requires that you pay close attention to your dog at all times so that you can pick up on pre-potty signals. Use a properly sized crate for those times when you can’t actively supervise your puppy, as well as for nap time and bedtime. Scheduling your puppy’s life will help make his days pleasantly predictable and will enable you to better track his potty habits. Schedule his meals, nap times, play times and, of course, his trips outside. Finally, make sure to accompany your puppy outside for every potty trip and give him a small treat immediately after he finishes his elimination. If you wait until you get back in the house, your puppy won’t make the connection between his potty and the treat. Find more tips, check out “How to Potty Train Your Dog.”

When to Call a Professional

Training should be a pleasure for both you and your dog. Granted, there are often challenges as you work towards better manners but if you find yourself becoming frequently frustrated with your dog, it’s time to get help. Frustration is only a few degrees away from anger and you probably won’t be able to make progress trying to train your dog when you’re feeling upset.

You should also consider bringing in a professional if your dog exhibits behavior that makes you nervous (like growling or biting), particularly if you have young children in your home. It’s safest to begin behavioral modification with a professional when a dog first starts exhibiting troublesome behaviors rather than waiting for them to take root. As the expression goes, dog rarely grow out of problem behaviors, they grow into them.

Finally, it’s okay to admit that you need a cheerleader to support you as your train your dog. A good trainer will help you troubleshoot setbacks, give you a gentle push if you get stuck and most importantly, help you achieve your goals. Having someone hold you accountable is a great way to ensure that you and your dog get all of the training you need!

Responsible pet parents understand living with a new puppy is like living with a toddler. So, pet parent need to spend time teaching that puppy to be a good member of the family. One way to do that is to reward good behaviors (ex. not peeing in the house) and redirecting bad behaviors ex. (offering a chew toy instead of your favorite pair of shoes).

Before you Begin Puppy Training

It can be overwhelming to decide the best things to teach your puppy. One of the best ways to interact with your dog and to get him or her to pay attention to you is to teach look or watch me command. This isn’t necessarily a trick, rather it’s a way to capture your dog’s full attention before you begin training. To do this, simply decide which words you will use and be consistent (i.e. “look” or “watch me”). Before you begin teaching your dog anything else, say “look,” and offer a treat when she responds. When you have her full attention, move onto the training.

Basic Puppy Commands

Teach your dog to Sit. This is a basic, and easy to teach, command. Starting out with something easy gives a positive boost to the training session for both the dog and for you. To teach sit, hold a treat by your dog’s nose. Lift your hand and the treat until his head follows your hand. This will naturally cause his butt to lower to the ground in a sitting position. After he’s sitting, say the word “sit,” and give him a treat and praise.

Repetition is key to mastering any command. Practice sit several times a day. Use the command to get him to sit before you put his food dish in front of him, or when you’re taking a walk and come to an intersection.

Tip: If you’re trying to teach your dog other commands he isn’t mastering, end the session before you both get frustrated, but end on a good note. If he has mastered sit, then have him do that—offer treats and praise, then playtime.

Teach your dog to Come. This command could literally be a life-saver. Teaching your dog to come when you call, first time, every time is a necessary command—especially if he slips out of his leash or out the door without his leash.

Teach your dog this command in the house by having someone hold him in one room, while you either go to the end of the room or another room entirely. Call him, with the come command. Infuse enthusiasm into your voice and reward your dog with a treat and praise when he comes on command. If, every time he comes to you, you are ecstatic to see him—petting and making a fuss over him—he will have no reason not to come when called.

Practice this command when you’re in a safe area where there are distractions. You will know he’s mastered the command when he comes to you, without hesitation, regardless of what’s going on around him.

Teach your dog to Give It or Drop It. This command is necessary in case you need your dog to drop something she’s picked up off the floor that she shouldn’t eat or if you want her to give you a toy, piece of food or your shoe that she’s chewing.

Leave it is a variation on give it. You can use the same idea (drop, give, or leave) as long as you use the same command so your dog doesn’t get confused. Know what action you’d like your dog to perform, then reward her for having done it.

For example, if you want your dog to give you a toy, give the give it or drop it command and hold out your hand. You may want to give a little tug on the toy and say the command again. Once she opens her mouth and gives it to you, reward and praise her.

You may consider the leave it command a separate one, and if that’s the case, drop an item on the floor and say the command. If your dog doesn’t pick it up, you can reward her with a treat and/or praise. Leave it is a command that therapy dogs learn, so they don’t pick up dropped medication if they are in a hospital or nursing home setting.

Teach your dog to Heel or With Me. This command is necessary when walking your dog on a leash without tugging. A dog who walks on a loose leash is a joy and makes it more fun for you to get outdoors and get exercise.

Snap on the leash and go for a walk, keeping your dog close to your side. If he starts to tug or get ahead of you, stop, ask him to sit. Then wait a second or two before you begin walking again. Repeat the command, heel or with me as you walk. Stop at all intersections or crosswalks and have him sit. When you begin walking again, make sure he’s looking at you and staying at your heel while you walk.

Offer a treat and/or praise when he walks at your side without tugging. Stop frequently when your dog gets ahead of you when you’re walking. Be prepared for leash tugging when a stranger or another dog passes, repeat the command until staying at heel is second nature. When this happens, stop, sit and wait until the distraction passes. Eventually, you will be able to walk along and your dog and will remain at heel.

Teach your dog to Lie Down or Down. This is important for your dog to learn because it can keep her from jumping on guests to getting on the counter and putting her face on the dinner table.

To train this, get your dog into a sit then you can coax him to the down position by moving your hand with a treat, toward the ground. He will follow your hand and will get into the down position.

Once he has learned this, you can move onto other things, like teaching him a trick of rolling over.

Teach your dog to Stay. When your dog has mastered the sit and down, you will want him to learn stay. Get her into a sit or down position, hold your hand up, palm forward and say “stay,” while slowly moving away from him. If he moves out of the sit or down position, come back toward him and start over.

Offer a treat and/or praise when he will remain in a stay position even if you only move two feet away from him. Once he stays, increase the length of time you keep him in stay, then use the come command. Reward with lavish praise and treats.

You will eventually be able to work up to a stay command where you can move out of eyesight of your dog and he will wait for the come command.

Praising your Puppy’s Behavior

When training your dog, it crucial to reward good behavior when it happens. If there is a lag between when the good behavior is exhibited and the treat or praise, your dog may not know what he is getting a treat for. Look for healthy treats as you will be feeding small treats frequently when in training mode.

Your dog wants to please you and also wants to have a job—training these commands will give him the opportunity to work and win your approval.

Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.

How to train a dog to come

Clicker training, which relies heavily on positive reinforcement, is an effective and fun approach for training your dog. You can use clicker training to teach your dog basic commands or complicated tricks. When your dog hears the clicker, they know they will receive a treat!

What is a dog-training clicker?

Dog-training clickers are simple, small plastic devices. The metal strip inside makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed. Clickers are inexpensive and can be purchased in pet stores, online or in person.

What is dog clicker training?

Dog clicker training is one of the simplest ways to teach your dog commands and tricks. It provides a consistent, audible response to your dog’s positive behaviour. With dog clicker training, you click the dog clicker after your dog successfully follows a given command or does a trick. After clicking the dog clicker, you then give your dog a treat. Over time, the dog learns to associate the dog clicker with rewards and following commands.

How do I use a dog-training clicker?

Dog-training clickers are very easy to use. This step-by-step guide will help you get started:

Introduce your dog to the clicker

  1. Make sure you have lots of small food treats on hand (ideally 20-30 bite-sized treats), as well as your clicker. Choose a quiet room with no distractions.
  2. Before you start the training, introduce the clicker to your dog. With a treat in one hand and the clicker in the other, click the clicker once and immediately give your dog the treat.
  3. Repeat this a few times so that your dog soon learns to associate the click with a treat. Once this association has been made, the click should start to get your dog’s attention.

Use the clicker to teach your dog a command

  1. Next, focus on the action you want your dog to perform – for example, sitting. As soon as your dog sits, click and give a treat.
  2. You can gently encourage your dog to sit – each time they do, immediately click and provide a treat. Your dog will soon make the connection between the desired action, the click and the treat.

Add vocal commands

  1. Start adding vocal commands – such as ‘sit’ – to direct your dog. Continue to click and reward each time. Repeat the process.
  2. After your dog has mastered this step, progress to only clicking and rewarding your dog when they perform the action on your vocal command. Don’t click or reward if your dog sits without the command.
  3. When your dog sits on command every time, you can start phasing out the clicker and the treats. Some trainers find that using a marker word like an enthusiastic “yes!” can help replace the function of the clicker as you transition your dog away from it.

Continue praise

  1. Once your dog is consistently following your vocal commands, stop giving them treats every time they complete the desired action. But still give an encouraging pat and plenty of praise. And, of course, you can still give a treat now and then when your dog is listening well.

Top tips for successful dog clicker training

  • Timing is everything. It is important your dog understands the behaviour that’s being rewarded. Try to click during the correct behaviour if you can, and give the treat immediately afterwards.
  • Reward every time. In the early stages of training, each click must mean a guaranteed treat. So even if you accidentally click the clicker, give your dog a treat anyway.
  • Keep the treats small. Dog clicker training requires lots of treats. Keep them small so your dog doesn’t gain weight.
  • End on a positive note. Training requires a bit of effort for both you and your dog (though it’s a lot of fun, too). Always end the training session on a positive note: a correct action, a click and a treat, and lots of praise.
  • Phase out the clicker. Remember that a dog-training clicker is only for training new behaviours. Once your dog responds to the verbal command alone, it’s time to phase out the clicker (and the treats).

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It’s really common to run into this problem when you’re first learning how to properly train with treats. While it might be a sign of a smart dog when your dog will only listen if there are treats around, it’s certainly a frustrating scenario for owners.

In today’s “Ask a Behavior Consultant,” we tackle this question:

My dog is pretty well trained (sit, lay down, come, go to bed). The issue is that she will only do these things if she believes she will be getting a treat. She wants to see it in my hand before she does the command. Am I doing something wrong?

PS – If you want to submit your own Ask a Behavior Consultant question, you can do that here. Be sure to try all of the tips in this article and check out our training videos and blogs before submitting a question – we don’t answer duplicate questions.

How to Teach Your Dog to Listen Without Treats

It’s almost always best to teach a dog a new behavior using treats ( I really like the Merrick Power Bites or Zuke’s Training Treats). They’re fast, they’re small, and most dogs love them!

But once your dog is starting to really learn the behavior, it’s important for most people to start weaning off treats.

Whether you need your dog to listen without treats for competition, for safety, or for convenience, it’s handy to have a dog that listens without treats.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Start with treats. That’s just the fastest and most efficient way to teach a behavior. Blue Bits from Blue Buffalo are great for small dogs – the heart-shaped treats break in half really easily!
  2. Fade treats ASAP. Many people start teaching their dogs using a lure. They teach a sit by pulling the treat up and back; they teach a down by curving the treat down and forward. It’s important to remove the treat from your hand within 3-5 tries using the lure. Just use your hand to lure the dog, then produce the treat from your other hand.
  3. Make the reward a surprise. Sometimes, ask your dog to sit or lie down when there’s no apparent treat in sight. Then produce a piece of chicken from a hiding spot! Or go outside and several tasty meal-toppers near your mailbox, then practice come when called and surprise your dog with a huge jackpot! Sometimes, I give my dog five treats for a behavior. Other times, he gets one (or none). Your dog will quickly learn that it’s worth it to listen to you because you usually have something good, even if she can’t see or smell it.
  4. Switch up the rewards. It’s not always possible to have treats lying around. Though I try to have dog treats handy as much as I can, I’m not perfect at this either! Instead, I use life rewards whenever I can to reward my dog. Your dog can sit in order to earn a walk, lie down to earn belly rubs, or come when called in order to play tug o war. Teach your dog that if she listens when you ask, she’ll get something good (but it might not be food).

It all comes down to motivation and trust. You need to demonstrate to your dog that it’s a good bet to listen when you ask, because you almost always deliver.

Think of a friend who asks a lot of favors. If your friend almost always pays you back with a beer or a return favor (or at least plenty of gratitude), you’re likely to keep the favors coming. But if your friend never acknowledges your favors, you probably won’t keep showing up for her.

The same goes for your dog. There’s a misconception that your dog should listen to you just because she’s a dog, you’re a human, and you are The Leader of the House.

The fact is, well-behaved dogs listen because something is in it for them.

I recommend teaching your dog that you’ll provide good stuff when she listens rather than trying to enforce her obedience by threatening “listen, or else.”

An Example of Fading Treats from a Dog’s Training

Let’s give this a concrete example, because it can be a bit hard to visualize how you fade treats and teach your dog to listen without treats.

Last week, I was teaching my dog to weave between my legs. This is a cute behavior that also helps stretch his back out – important before we go on long hikes!

Here’s how it went:

  1. I lured Barley through my legs using a treat. Each time he took a few steps in the right direction, I released the treat from my fingers and gave it to him. I did this about 5 times until he seemed to have the motion down.
  2. I lured Barley through my legs but only gave him a treat when he finished the leg weave. I did this about 10 times, weaving him through my legs with the treat but only releasing the treat when he finished the weave.
  3. I put the treat in my other hand and then lured Barley through my legs using my empty hand. When he finished weaving, I gave him the treat from my other hand. We did this about 10 times.
    • We then took a break for a few hours.
  4. I repeated Step 3, but asked him to weave two or three times before he got a treat. We did this 10 times, varying whether Barley got the treat after one, two, or three successful leg weaves.
  5. I repeated Step 3 again, but this time I made my hand movements smaller each repetition. Rather than moving my hand through my legs right with Barley, I made the movements smaller and smaller. We did this about 10 times.
  6. I started adding a verbal cue. Now I moved my leg, offered my hand on the other side of my leg, and said “weave.” If he got it right, I produced treats from my hand, treat pouch, or hidden around the house.
    • We took another break.
  7. I started asking Barley to “weave” at random times throughout the day. He “weaved” through my legs before I clipped his leash on, before I opened the front door, before I clipped his leash off at the beach, in order to earn a tug toy or a tennis ball, praise, petting, and for other real-life rewards.

That’s how I taught Barley to leg weave without treats in just a few days.

Sure, I still give him treats about 50% of the time when he does the behavior (because I want him to love doing leg weaves), but he listens when I say “weave” even if he can’t see the treats!

He trusts that I’ll pay him somehow soon. We call this a trust bank account, and it’s a hallmark of a great relationship with your dog.

So, it’s not so much a matter of not rewarding your dog: it’s teaching your dog that other rewards are possible, and that you’ll usually pull through with something good!

Kayla grew up in northern Wisconsin and studied ecology and animal behavior at Colorado College. She founded Journey Dog Training in 2013 to provide high-quality and affordable dog behavior advice. She’s an avid adventurer and has driven much of the Pan-American Highway with her border collie Barley. She now travels the US in a 2006 Sprinter with her two border collies, Barley and Niffler. Aside from running Journey Dog Training, Kayla also runs the nonprofit K9 Conservationists, where she and the dogs work as conservation detection dog teams.