John Woods, Founder, All Things Dogs –
As a Dog owner we want our Dogs to experience the sights and sounds of the local community, but we also want them to be safe.
The list of what we want them to know and learn is never-ending but there are certain things that we don’t want our Dog doing as sometimes these actions can put them in danger.
So, here are five commands that you can teach your Dog that may one day save their life!
One of the most important things we need to perfect as Dog owners is recall. A Dog who responds to us is a safe one and this is especially true for working Dog breeds with plenty of energy.
Most owners train recall using the “come” command. It’s beneficial to have a helper. In a room with no distractions, ask your helper to hold on to your pooch. Allow some distance between you and Fido, a couple of feet perhaps and ask him to “come.”
With a high value treat or toy in your hand, Fido should run straight to you. Repeat several times. Once he starts to get it, you can increase the gap between you and your Dog. Each time they come, praise and reward.
If they choose to wander off and sniff the ground, ask your helper to retrieve him and try again. It’s important that he only gets the attention from you when he fullfils his command.
This command is perfect for stopping your Dog eating something they shouldn’t off the sidewalk, especially if you live in busy cities.
Start with a high value food in your hand, make sure your hand is closed with the treat in your palm. Your Dog will instinctively sniff at your hand, you will see them trying to figure out how to get to the treat.
Once your Dog ignores the food and stops sniffing, give him the treat; this may take seconds or minutes. We want them to learn self-control, that if they ignore something they want, then something they didn’t expect, which is still good, will happen.
The command you desperately need when your Dog is running towards a busy road after chasing that stray ball! To train the stop command, call your Dog towards you and ideally, it’s better if you have taught recall before you train this command.
As your Dog is running to you, throw a treat behind them. Make sure they see the treat and will stop to eat it. As they do, say STOP. Repeat this several times.
You should get to the stage that as they are coming towards you, if you stay STOP, they will automatically stop to look for those treats! Release the command, by shouting “come!” and treat them then.
Some owners choose to teach the sit-stay or the down-stay.
It’s entirely up to you but ensure you have mastered the first part of the command before moving on to stay. Asking your Dog to sit/down, hold your palm out flat in front of them.
Wait a few seconds and providing they maintained their sit/stay, reward them. You can also teach this in a down/stay if your Dog is more comfortable in this position.
As they start to master the command, increase the time between stays. Then, slowly increase the distance between you and them.
So, stand one step away and give the command, two steps away, three steps away etc. You can eventually move to asking them to sit/down-stay and then you move to another room. Release them before you provide the treat.
Last but not least…
Our final command isn’t technically a command, but positive handling could be the difference between swift assistance and additional suffering.
If your pup is used to be handled and touched on all parts of his body, he will be more likely to allow another human to do so. This includes a stranger who has found them or the veterinarian when you get there.
Start as early as possible. Touch their paws, ears, belly, neck, back, toes, everywhere. Sprinkle treats to distract them and help them associate that being handled is nothing to fear and use treats if necessary.
Ask family members or friends to help play with them using treats or chews. Use short sessions, 30 seconds to a minute is ample. Should the day arrive that you do need emergency care, it’s once less thing for them to be wary of.
It is the hope of every Dog owner that you would never need to use these commands in a life-threatening situation, but it’s always better to be prepared. Practice training the commands frequently and keep it simple.
Never use a string of commands with a Dog, especially in an emergency. You see some moldy food on the sidewalk, “Fido, leave!” He’s running towards a busy road, “Fido, Stop!”
Maybe you’ve come across a Dog who needs assistance, but you don’t want Fido to get near, “Fido, Stay!” These commands are certainly important for all Dog owners to train effectively to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your fur-kids.