Just like they are for people- manners are important skills for dogs to master. But manners don’t come naturally to either dogs or people. They have to be taught.
While educating early is great- it’s really never too late to learn. You can teach an old dog new tricks! Basic manners help pets adjust to family life, socialize with other dogs and teach them how to interact with strangers and in new environments.
Where to start? Sit is one of the easiest skills you can teach your dog and it’s also one of the most important. Any learning should always be based on positive reinforcement. That means giving your dog a reward to encourage the behavior you want- like giving raises to employees who meet their sales goals for the year. In your dog’s case reinforcement can be anything your dog likes. Most people find small pieces of food work great. You can buy training treats or even just use their own dog food.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests two different methods for teaching your dog to sit. The first is called capturing. Stand in front of your pup holding some of his dog food or treats. Wait for him to sit and say “yes” and give a treat. Then step backwards or sideways to encourage him to stand and wait for him to sit. Give another treat as soon as he sits. After a few repetitions you can begin saying “sit” right as he begins to sit.
The next method is called luring. Get down in front of your dog holding a treat as a lure. Put the treat in front of your pup’s nose then slowly lift the food above her head. She will probably sit as she lifts her head to nibble at the treat. Allow her to eat the treat when her bottom touches the ground. Repeat one or two times with the lure, them remove the food and use just your empty hand but continue to reward her after she sits. Once she understands the hand signal to sit, you can begin saying “sit” right before you give the hand signal. The AKC cautions to never physically put your pup into the sitting position as this can be confusing or upsetting to some dogs.
At Dogtopia of Arcadia we periodically offer training classes that you and your pup can take together. Your pup will learn things like sit, loose leash walking, polite greetings, “leave it” and more skills he needs to thrive. Check our website for more details or call us at (480) 405-9646.