Super Smiley, blog dog here, and as a dog, I vote “yes” on training!
Training lets us feel totally confident and comfortable in our environment. We know what’s good, what’s safe and what gets us super good attention and rewards.
We also know clearly what not to do. So all we have to do is not do that thing, and we’re good!
Often what makes us anxious and destructive is that we just don’t know what to do. If we haven’t been taught what to do, we have to figure it all out for ourselves, so we explore the garbage, dig things up, bark at people coming down the street, fence fight… Oh, if we only knew what to do…
Basic training! That will do it!
The 5 basics are “sit,” “stay,” “down,” “come,” and “heel,” with a few lifestyle cues thrown in like, “leave it,” “off,” and “enough.”
Notice “no” isn’t one of them. Works for me!
Good Job Super Smiley! Megan here now with some specifics on basic training. Smiley hit the target when he said training makes a dog calmer and more confident in his environment. More confidence doesn’t mean he will be more likely to be dominant. It is actually the opposite. The more truly confident he is, the more relaxed and chill he’ll be.
It starts with the concept of structure. We’ll get to the commands in a second. The concept of structure is simple. Establish a feeding, sleeping, relaxing, play… (everything) ritual. This is something your dog will do for you each time you engage in an activity.
For example, when you feed him, hold the food bowl in your hands and ask him to sit/stay. Place the bowl on the floor, then say, “free time!” as a cue for him to eat.
When you watch TV bring his bed or a blanket in the room and put it by your feet. Put him in a down/stay on the bed, then (if you allow him on the sofa with you) invite him up. Don’t let him up until you invite him.
Let him sleep in the room with you like the wolf pack sleeps together in the den.
All of these “rituals” may seem so insignificant to us humans, but to the dog, they are sending important messages that will let him know that you are in control of his environment. So you’re the one keeping him safe. You provide his food. It is yours that you are giving him. When you are watching TV, he will be watching you waiting for your invitation. So you are the one he looks to. He’s in the inner den sleeping with you. So he’s is an important member of your pack.
The sit, stay, down, come, heel can each be taught in a variety of ways.
For the sit, down and come, you can “capture” the action or “lure” him into it. To capture the sit for example, have a treat in your pocket, and when he starts to sit, say “sit” one time and as soon as he completes the sit, reward him with a treat. Or you can get his attention with the treat and “lure” his head back with the treat and say “sit” as his head goes back and his hind end sits.
Focus on one command at a time. Be very patient and work slowly and 100 percent consistently. After the sit has been learned, move on to “down” by luring him from a sit position to a down position with a treat. Only say the command one time, and say it as he’s moving toward the down.
Sit/stay is what I call the “magic command.” A good sit/stay is worth its weight in gold. Practice with a leash on him and only expect him to stay for one or two seconds the first few times. Put him in a sit, and as you face him, reach over his head so you are holding the leash behind his head and say “stay” in a gentle calm voice. If he stays for one second, reward him. When it clicks in his mind what you want, he will stay for three seconds, then five, then pretty soon you can put him in a strong sit/stay while you hide in the house then shout “Free time!” for a fun game of hide and seek. Make everything super fun and he’ll see “training” as a big game where he always wins.
Start teaching “come” in the house using treats. The hide and seek game is great for this. And heel is reinforced easily by putting some peanut butter on a spoon by your side as you walk him.
The secret: Make everything fun and always set him up for success. Then everybody wins!
Until Next Time,
Woof and Super Smiles from
Super Smiley and Megan Blake, The Pet Lifestyle Coach®