When it comes to keeping your dog’s brain sharp, nothing works quite as well as teaching him a few new tricks. Not only can obedience training strengthen the bond you share with your pet, but it can also help tackle behavioral problems now and in the future. Here are a few top tricks to teach your pet:
Sit: Because sitting is a simple command to master, it’s a great way to start training your pet and build confidence. Begin by holding a treat near your dog’s nose—but not close enough for him to grab it from your hand. Slowly move your hand up, causing your dog’s head to tilt up to follow the treat and his rear to lower to the ground. If you have trouble, try gently pushing his chest backwards, which should encourage your dog to sit. Once Fido is in the sitting position, reward him with the treat. Repeat this sequence before meals, walks and other activities until he’s mastered the command, which can be used to keep him calm and collected in a variety of situations.
Come: The “come” command can keep your dog out of trouble by bringing him back to you when he gets loose. To teach your dog this command, put on his leash and collar. Walk to the end of the leash and, stooping to your dog’s level, say “come” while giving gentle tugs. When your dog comes, reward him with a treat. Once he’s mastered this command with a leash, remove it and continue practicing with only the verbal cue.
Stay: Once Fido is an expert at “sit,” you can teach him to stay. To begin, have your dog sit and then open your palm in front of you in the “halt” gesture. Take several steps backwards while repeating the “stay” command. If your dog stays put, reward him with a treat and praise. Over time, you can increase the distance you move before rewarding your pet. Once he masters this trick, you can use “stay” to avert behavior problems and keep your dog out of trouble.
Leave it: Teaching your dog to “leave it” can be a literal lifesaver when a curious pet get into something he shouldn’t eat. To teach Fido this command, start by placing a treat in both hands. Close your hands and show him one fist while giving the “leave it” command. Your pet will probably sniff, paw or bark at the treat, but it’s important to ignore these behaviors. Once he has stopped, offer your dog the treat from the other hand. Repeat this process until your pet immediately moves away from the first fist when you said “leave it.” Cement his training by only offering the treat when he moves from the first fist and looks up at you upon hearing the “leave it” command.