Why should I teach my dog simple tricks?

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It may not seem like a big deal, but learning even the simplest tricks is important to your dog. This is because:

  • It reinforces the human/animal bond: You’ll be giving her plenty of positive reinforcement, praise and possibly treats which encourages your relationship.
  •  She’ll feel more secure, confident and happy. You’ll now be seen as the “leader of the pack.” It will know exactly what’s expected of it and there will be no confusion or ambiguity. Even the most stubborn dog will feel better with such a clear set of boundaries.
  • It alleviates boredom. All dogs, but especially those “brainiac” breeds, need intellectual stimulation!
  • It reduces anxiety, nervousness, and excitability. Because it requires such intense focus on their part, a few minutes of “work” will calm them right down.

Don’t overdo it though. A few minutes a day is enough, because dogs can get tired or frustrated easily.

So what are some simple tricks? Sit, stay, down (never say “lie down”—it only confuses them), heel. If your dog is particularly stubborn, try putting it in the sit/stay position near a busy, heavily trafficked corner; the dog will have to focus very hard to ignore all the distractions, and other easier tricks will be much easier to teach!

The basic commands are: sit, sit/stay, down, heel and come. The one you really want to know is “come”—because that could very well save his life some day.

Here are some basic guidelines for training your dog, but you should also consider a couple of training classes—it’ll be both educational and fun for you and your dog!

  • Start every vocal command by stating the dog’s name first. For instance, “Shayna, sit.” By stating her name, you are getting the dog’s attention
  • Don’t combine two words that could each be a command on its own, or it’ll confuse your dog.   For instance, say “Shayna, sit: Don’t say: “Shayna, sit down.” “Sit” and “Down” can each be considered a command, and it won’t know which one you want it to do.
  • Keep to short, simple sentences with only a few words. No narratives, explanations or descriptions!

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