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Tuesday Training Byte: Precise commands

Dogs obviously do not speak English. They do however understand body language quite well. This is why I combine body language or hand signals with a command when training. Beyond that, I pick commands that mean a precise thing. If I tell a dog to "stay" for example, it means the dog must remain exactly in that spot in that particular position until I come back and release the dog to move. If I want the dog to remain for a moment and then come, I use a different command, "wait". Wait can be used in various situations such as when I place the food bowl down for the dog. This prevents the dog from potentially knocking it out of my hand and spilling it. Wait can be used as you open the door to go and you don't want your pup to rush out ahead until you grab your umbrella. Stay is like "freeze" right where you are. I use a different command so that the dog doesn't anticipate and jump the gun or come, etc. Another example of precise commands is the leave it command versus wait. Leave it means that the dog cannot have that item. Period! If you put a biscuit on the dog's nose and say "leave it" only to release the dog to take it, at some point the dog will get the idea that in a moment it can have that item you said no to. Leave it in this case should be replaced with wait. If you want your dog to reliably stay or leave it, then you need to use the precise commands only for those exact behaviors. I have indoor dogs that know the snacks on the end tables are taboo (I pointed to the items and said leave it. Then I reward a dog from the treat jar. I never give the dog any snacks from the table. Now I can go to work and the dog reliably leaves the snacks alone. Precise commands help the dog clearly understand what it is or is not supposed to do. Happy training!

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