This method can be transferred to anything you want to train your puppy todo from sit to play dead or empty the dishwasher. A puppy learns best through Positive reinforcement for a job well done, this increases the chances that the puppy will do that behavior again and again, and more importantly with even being asked! This is great news for us. Think of that time you will be cooking in your kitchen and your dog is trying to chew your feet….. if you reward him for going and laying down and not for nipping at your feet, its then much more likely next time he will go lay down. Pay attention to your puppy and reinforce him for behaviors you want to see more of, this is what i like to call the common sense method, if it appears to be common sense to us, reward him!
We need to go through a series of steps when teaching anything new
For the sake of explanation, let’s review teaching the puppy to sit.
A puppy naturally knows how to sit. We want to teach the pup to sit when we ask, first time every time, we would also like to know what to do if they don’t sit when we need or want them to. We will go through this one step at a time. These steps are adaptable to anything that you want to teach your dog. We will also talk about the use of food, first as a lure and then as reinforcement for doing the behavior.
At any point during the training process, if you see things begin to deteriorate, backtrack and set your puppy up to succeed by taking it straight back to these basic steps.
Step One – Get Pup Comfortable With The Position
Lure your puppy into the sit position, it is not necessary to use the word sit in the beginning, since your puppy has no idea what the word actually means. We only want to be able to smoothly get them following your hand with the treat so he plunks down into a sit. You will find this easier to do in a place of least distraction and if you move your hand slowly keeping the treat on your dogs nose. As their bum touches the floor say YES! As you release the treat (do not delay)
Step Two – Insert The Cue
Once you can easily lure your doggy into a sit insert the word “sit” before you move. (Get their attention - “sit” - lure into position - ”yes” & release reward) Feed your puppy immediately as his bum hits the ground.
After a few sessions of multiple repetitions, your puppy will associate the sound of the word sit with the position that you have been luring him into and reinforcing him for.
Step Three – Fade The Lure
It is important to fade the food lure But don’t do this to soon, This does not mean you aren’t reinforcing the puppy. The difference is the treat comes from your other hand. Once the puppy is sitting every time you lure with the food, start to lure him the same way but with no food in your hand. Your puppy will recognize the hand movement (that previously held food) and will sit. With that, reach into your treat pouch and reinforce the pup with some food treats.
Step Four – Proof Your Work
Now start to mix things up. Lure with your empty hand (no treat) and reward the pup with a treat from the pouch. Then try asking your pup to sit without the hand signal. Continue testing to see if he knows what you want when he hears the word sit. The goal is to not need the lure, You can teach him to sit with both a verbal cue and with the hand signal alone. The hand signal for sit can be the lure hand without a treat that evolve into an open hand, palm up, Finger point, what ever you choose.
Building the levels of distraction Dog training is much like learning to drive, you wouldn’t take your test without first building your knowledge of driving the car……. It is equally important that as we progress with our training that we change the environment and the level of distractions and continue to keep the tasks easy. This is where it can get fun, if you are teaching a “leave” for instance you can build your distraction by firstly moving the treat, throwing the treat, placing them closer, practicing around other dogs and finally placing items in the garden and asking for a leave from a distance or accidentally dropping that chicken on the floor in the kitchen or having a picnic in the park. By practicing first you are making it possible for your dog to learn what your asking and then relay it to all sorts of situations. If your practicing a stay you could build your distractions by playing with toys while they stay put or going out of sight or dancing around and running in the park. You get the general idea, get inventive and enjoy challenging your puppy but not too much that they don’t succeed, and when your dog manages something that is very hard for them todo, reward them!