The 4 Basic Commands Your Dog Should Know
Have you heard of the famous border collie, Chaser, who can identify at least 1,000 nouns? She is truly #doggoals. But your pooch doesn’t have to be Einstein (or Chaser) to be a good canine citizen. We asked veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman to share the four things every dog should know for his safety and your sanity.
Pet parents' number one wish is for their pup to come when called, according to Dodman, who is the program director at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Massachusetts. And if your dog is a runner, you will need to be able to get her back using only your voice. To train her on this, tether her to you on a very long lead inside an enclosed area. Say her name, then say "Come" and praise her as soon as she heads your way. If she doesn't budge, gently reel her in, telling her what a good girl she is as you do so. Once she's with you, kick up your compliments and give her a high-value treat.
This is a great one to know and not just for impressing your friends. Dogs can't multitask, so if they're sitting when instructed, they actually can't misbehave. The simplest way to teach "Sit" is to get a treat ready, say the magic word, and wait. Eventually your pup will get bored and plunk down. When he does, be quick with the positive feedback. "Your doggo will learn that when he puts his butt on the ground, food arrives from heaven," Dodman says.
"Dogs bark—that's what they do, and not all barking is bad," says Dodman. But it can become too much, and it can come at inopportune times (like when your neighbors are trying to get their baby to sleep). When a simple "Quiet" doesn't work, ignore the dog. Barking extinguishes when it doesn't produce an effect. Be warned: It may get worse before it gets better, so give the neighbors a heads-up—and cut them some slack when their baby cries.
No one wants to be the owner of that dog who jumps on kids. So when Buddy leaps up on you, say "Off," then stand like a statue. He'll realize nothing is happening and stop. As soon as all four paws are on the floor, lavish him with love. "Eventually they get the picture: 'I will stop doing this and get praise,'" Dodman says.
BONUS: Potty Training 101
When it comes to potty training, follow this pattern: Take your dog out to a place where he's done his business before. If he goes, praise him; if he doesn't, crate him or tether him to you, then try again in 15 minutes. Repeat until you get success. "You become the elimination police," says veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman. "Do not let him make a mistake." And if you do, clean up thoroughly and remove odors. This will help prevent your dog from becoming a repeat offender.