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Tuesday Training Byte: Enforcing a command

This week's topic is best understood if you read last week regarding precise commands. If you want your dog to be solid and reliable to do what you want, we need to train that way. Many people as they are leaving the house, tell their dog to "Stay". As soon as Mom has walked out the door, the dog moves (or even sooner)! Stay means stay! A high level obedience competition dog will be trained to sit and stay while the owner leaves the building for 3 minutes. The dog must not move or change position. My point is that when you are leaving there is no need to give your dog a command- especially one that you can't enforce. I generally pat my dog on the head and tell her something like, "See you after while". When you give a command, you need to be 100% consistent in enforcing that command. If I tell my pup to sit, but she lays down instead, then I need to correct that and get the pup in a sit. If I just ignore it because at least the pup is not jumping up, then I have just trained the dog that the command of sit is optional. Soon the pup takes that to mean that any and all commands are optional. First step is to be sure to get your dog's attention, then say the dog's name followed by the command. "Angel, sit". The pup should promptly assume the position. Do not nag the pup with a string of senseless commands. If the dog is still standing, apply pressure on the leash upwards and towards its tail until the pup plops her butt down. Then immediately release the pressure and mark the good behavior with a "Yes!" followed by a treat. Do not give a command you cannot enforce. That is why I advocate for not letting the dog off leash until it is well trained. Even turning your pup loose in a fenced back yard, you cannot enforce the command to come if you do not have a hold of the end of a long line. Calling the dog to come while free gives the dog the choice of ignoring you, it it likely will. If the dog moves when you tell it to stay, guide the dog right back to where it was supposed to stay and give the command again. Commands are not optional, but the dog will believe they are if you do not follow through immediately every single time.

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