Training a Shelter Dog
Expert advice on teaching a rescue dog your rules.
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Sit: Raise a treat slightly above your dog's head. As it reaches up for it, it will sit. Click and treat. (If you raise the treat too quickly or too high, your dog may jump instead of sitting. Try luring lower and more slowly.) Use this trick whenever your dog wants something — first have it sit, then give it what it asked for.
- Start with the dog sitting. Slowly lower a treat, allowing your dog to nibble on it on the way down. If your dog lies down, click and treat.
- If it follows only partway or stands, try again, but lower the treat slowly and click and treat at the lowest point dog will go.
- Each time lure farther down before clicking and treating.
- When your dog lies down all the way, click and throw a party by giving several treats.
- Concealing a treat between your thumb and forefinger, straighten your other fingers so your hand is as open as possible. Lower the hand with the concealed treat.
- When your dog follows, click and treat.
- Eliminate the lure. Signal with an open palm and bring out the treat as a reward only after your dog lies down.
Come or Here: Pick a time when your dog is already coming toward you and say come or here. Playfully back away several steps. Click as your dog begins to approach and treat when it reaches you. Do this 10 times a day at random moments.
Stay: Have your dog either sit or lie down while you feed it 10 treats as fast as it will eat them. Then feed 10 more, but delay a second between treats. Gradually increase the delay. When your dog will wait five seconds between treats, introduce the following voice and hand cues for stay.
Hold your open palm toward the dog in a traffic stop gesture. Show your hand for only a second, then take it away. As you signal, also say "stay" in a calm voice.
Pause, then treat. Gradually wait longer between delivering the cue and the reward. When the delay between treats reaches 10 seconds, gradually add distance and distractions.
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