This page on Command Training is part of the Advanced Course of the
D.S. Dog Training Workshop, and an element of the Dog Science Network

Comprehensive Behavioral Conditioning for Dogs
Section Two of the Advanced Course

Command Training
Page Three of an eleven-page section

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Step Two: Teaching Your Dog How to Do What it is that You Want Him to Do

Now that you know how to tell your dog what it is that you want him to do, the next task becomes to teach him how to go about doing it.

Teaching Your Dog to Sit on Command

Teaching your dog to sit on command is really very simple, it takes time and no small ration of patience, but the process is by no means complex.

To teach your dog to sit, wait until he is standing up. Then, put one hand on the front part of his chest and place your other hand on his back, way down by his tail.

Next, give the command in the proper manner, Fido - sit!. Wait until after you have said the words, then, pause for just a second before exerting a slight upward pressure on the front of your dogs chest at the exact same instant that you push down on his haunches. That will move your dog into a sitting position.

It is essential that you do not move your dog into position before you give the command. Also, do not give the command as you move your dog into position. Rather, you should first get your hands in place so that you are positioned to move your dog. Then, give the command. Then, wait just an instant after you give the command before you start to move your dog into the proper posture.

The idea of pausing for an instant after issuing the command is to give your dog just enough time to respond by sitting down on his own. Of course, when you first start working with your dog, there is no possibility that he will just spontaneously sit on his own, simply because he hears you say those words.

Nonetheless, even at the outset of his training, you still need to give your dog a split second to respond on his own before you move him into position. If you do that, you will find that after a certain number of repetitions, your dog will respond to the command on his own, by sitting before you make the move for him.

The first time your dog responds to a command on his own is sure to be a big thrill. For a dog lover, it is the equivalent of having a child who speaks his first words or takes his first steps. But it can only happen if you remember to pause for just an instant after giving the command, in order to give your dog a chance to do it for himself.

After you have given your dog the command to sit and moved him into a sitting posture, hold him there in that position for two or three seconds while you enthusiastically pronounce him a good dog!, as though you could not be more pleased by the brilliant manner in which he is executing your command. After a few seconds have passed in which you continue to hold him in position, you should enthusiastically give your dog the release command, as you suddenly remove your hands from his body.

The idea is to release your dog from the command with such a sense of sudden excitement that he will just automatically jump up from his sitting position, which is what you want your dog to do when he gets the okay to break from a command to sit. In the unlikely event that your dog should remain seated after you give him the okay, then, you have to find a way to make your release so overwhelmingly exciting that it will prompt him to move.

Notice that through the process just described, your dog will begin to learn the meaning of the release command even as he is coming to grips with its affirmative counterparts.

Taking a Minute to Bask in the Glow of Perfection

Please note that as I described it in the last section, your dog executed the sit command perfectly. You gave the command and a split second later, he sat down. What's more, he continued to sit there until you gave him the release command, and when he got that, he released. Therefore, his performance was dead-on, letter perfect.

Clearly, your dog's first command performance was a stunning success.

Taking Note of All that is Right

Let's take a moment to examine the essential elements that your dog nailed down in his first, flawless go 'round. You gave the command just once, which is how commands are supposed to be given, and a heartbeat later your dog reacted, which is the correct timing for the execution of such an order.

That is how it always should be. You give the command just once and, an instant later, your dog makes his move. You should never have to give the same command a second time and you should never have to wait for more than an instant for a swift response. No indeed, it should always be done perfectly, just the way that your dog did it on his very first trial.

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This page on Command Training is part of the Advanced Course of the
D.S. Dog Training Workshop, and an element of the Dog Science Network