Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, must not have owned a dog. If dogs are anything, they are extremely intelligent and can learn many new things given the chance to show you. When training your dog, keep in mind that yelling, hitting, cursing or punishment is uncalled for, as dogs will retreat backwards the more they are yelled at. Besides, you wouldn’t treat a child like that and dogs are essentially just little children with tails and four legs!
The first thing to learn when training your dog to do anything new is to never change your verbal expression, tone or volume. If you say, “come here, boy” then do not change to “Fido, come here”. By doing this, your dog will become confused and it will cause unneeded frustration for both of you.
A couple of tips to take into consideration when training your dog is to reward him with treats for good behavior, however be sure to also give a lot of praise and patting to ensure he does not rely totally on the treats when being good. You may also think about enrolling your dog in an obedience class. Even if training is going good at home, this will give him extra practice with interaction between other animals and people.
When training your dog don’t cram everything into one day and expect him to remember it. Dogs have short attention spans and will quickly become bored, so try to keep training time down to short sessions throughout the day. Here are a few of the easier and more popular commands to teach Fido.
• Come- Use a toy or treat to encourage him to come towards you. Say “Fido, come.” As he makes his way towards you, praise him. Once he is in front of you, hold onto his collar for 30 seconds and then let go.
• Sit- Press gently down on his backside and say “sit.” You can also hold a treat above his head. When a dog is forced to look upward, he will automatically sit on his hind legs. Just as he bends to a sitting position, say “Fido, sit.” Remember to praise and reward.
• Down- Get your dog into a sitting position. Slowly guide his legs straight down in front of him until he is flat. As you are doing this, repeat “Fido, down.” Keep him in this position for 30 seconds and then praise and treat.
• Stay- Have Fido sit. As you slowly take a couple steps backward, say “Fido, stay.” Hold your hand out as you do this, palm facing him. If he moves from position, tell him “no” and return him to the starting point. If he stays, praise and treat. Don’t forget to find a ‘release command’ like “ok”, or done.” This will tell him it is okay to move.
By using persistence, consistency and patience when training your dog, you will almost effortlessly be able to teach new commands and tricks. The ‘trick’ for you is to always praise and treat. Start with these easy commands and before long you will have him doing somersaults!