Sit: Sit is the most used command. If there’s ever a question of what your dog should do, the answer is SIT. Use the SIT hand signal. It should be given in front of their face with a commanding tone. Say commands once. Maintain eye contact, and your dog’s more likely to get it right.
Heel: Heel is a walking command. It requires our dogs to walk on our left side within an area of 2-3 square feet. Heel means that dogs adjust to our walking speed. Practice walking on a sidewalk or driveway where you can watch your dog, and make lots of turns in the opposite direction. The more turns, the better your dog will respond. Use turns to discover whether they’re paying attention to you. If they’re paying attention, dogs follow us through a turn. If your dog isn’t focused on you, they keep going straight and we guide them with our lead. Pack members must follow their leader.
Come: This is the most important command. A reliable come command gives us confidence to have more fun with our companions, and they get more opportunity to enjoy life. Communicating with dogs should be with a clear tone, not a shouting tone. Start with short come repetitions on a lead. A lead guarantees the dog is successful. Face your dog and have them sit. Then, take a step back and tell them ‘come’ at the same time you start walking, use the come command. When your dog walks toward you, stop walking and command them to ‘sit’. Now they’ve been successful at come and sit. Try doing 10-20 repetitions…SIT-COME-SIT-COME. Show approval for a job well done. Remember: any time your dog comes to you, they’ve done a good job. It doesn’t matter what they were doing, they made the right decision. Practice this command with distractions as they get better.
Stay: Stay teaches your dog to focus, and extends their ability to focus on you. By nature, dogs are action-oriented so requiring them to stay is a great mental exercise. Using this command in every day life (as you’re opening doors, before feedings, while putting on collar and leash) will give you the attentive dog you want. Work on ‘stay’ at very short distances. Increase the amount of time for ‘stay’, before working on the amount of distance. Increasing distance too soon can cause dogs to get confused. They’ll oftentimes follow you, and won’t know what’s required. Once your dog can stay for 20-30 seconds when you’re next to them, try to walk around them, and taking a few steps away. Increase the difficulty in steps. You’ll have a reliable dog that you trust!
Down: This command teaches your pet to lie down until released. Make sure to use a command tone and good hand signal. This can be a tough command for a dog that’s unsure of its position in your pack. Be patient and practice it everyday.
Place: Dogs are territorial. All the members of your pack need to know the rules. Give your dog a PLACE to go. Look at your home through the eyes of a dog. For them, the couch is our place. If we have a place, then where is their place? When we establish an area that’s for them, they feel included.