Typically, a dog and a 2-year old have about the same intellect. While toddlers and dogs are not exactly known for being well-behaved, there are ways to teach dogs to control themselves in public. Here are 5 essential commands so your dog won’t embarrass you at the vet’s, doggy daycare, during dog grooming, or anywhere else.
This command helps easily-distracted puppies focus. When you say the command, the dog should immediately make eye contact, creating the opportunity for further instruction. You never know what can happen away from home, but using “watch me” can keep your pet from bolting or injuring herself.
To teach: wave a treat near your pup’s face, say the command, then pull the treat towards your own face. Her gaze will naturally follow the food. Reward the dog immediately with praise and the treat, and repeat often.
If you plan on taking your dog anywhere, leash training with the “heel” command is of utmost importance. “Heel” prevents a dog from pulling on the leash by telling the dog to stand next to the handler, with her shoulder aligned with the owner’s leg.
To teach: Work in stages. Standing with your pup on the leash. When she’s in the right position, immediately say “heel” and give the treat. Work up to walking, only rewarding the dog for keeping the correct position.
Going out can also make your pet anxious; dog boarding, vet procedures and grooming for dogs are all often stressful. In public, “settle down” is a good way to tell your dog that they’re safe and need to sit still. The staff at doggy daycare or doggy grooming will also appreciate your pet’s reliably good behavior.
To teach: This command takes time to teach, but is extremely valuable. Use a mat. Point to the mat, and say “settle down.” Reward your pup each time she steps onto the mat. Eventually, she’ll put a paw on the mat as soon as you give the cue. Then, wait for her two paws on the mat before giving the treat. Work up to only giving the treat when she lays her entire body on the mat. Once she will lay on the mat for minutes at a time, start pointing to other locations and using the same command. Reward her for settling down no matter where or when you give the command.