Regardless of whether you have a new puppy or an older dog, it is never too late to start teaching your dog basic cues. From beginner cues like 'sit' and 'touch' to more advanced cues like 'stay' and 'heel' which require more impulse control, your dog should be taught using fun, force-free methods and every cue should have a real world application behind it.
Basic cues are also great in helping prevent behavior problems from developing in the future.
- 'Sit' is a valuable cue because it can be used before the front door is opened or before crossing a road, while 'come' is a cue that allows your dog to be off leash but teaches her to return to you when you need
- Cues like 'leave it' and 'take it/drop it' can help prevent a dog from resource guarding by making the exchange of food and toys a game for your dog.
- Teaching a puppy to walk on a loose leash can help prevent leash pulling and reactivity in the future.
Dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes can learn these basic cues using positive methods.
- Find what motivates your dog! There is no such thing as a 'stubborn' or 'untrainable' dog – you just have to find the right motivation.
- Treats, toys, and praise are common motivators when teaching basic cues.
- Teaching your dog less cue words and strengthening certain key responses will make it easier for her to learn. When you begin teaching a new cue, make sure you use her favorite rewards to motivate her and teach each cue in short ten minute sessions a few times a day. When she is proficient you can begin using the cue she has learned in real life situations.
- Every dog learns at a different pace, so be patient and make learning fun. Always finish each training session on a good note and make your dog feel good with plenty of praise.
Teaching your dog or puppy basic cues is important for general safety and is a great way to increase the bond and communication skills between you. But these basic cues are also the building blocks needed later in life to allow you to modify more serious and difficult-to-solve behavior issues like aggression as well. It's never too early or too late to begin teaching your dog these cues, and you should look forward to providing the enrichment the teaching process creates for both you and your dog.
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