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How to train your dog - 2

Jerry Shep dog toy and dog play expert
Jerry Shep, competitor in obedience competitions talks about dog training

It’s time to move on with our lessons on how to train a dog.

Hi, It’s Jerry here to talk to you in this second part of our training pages, how to train a dog 2, and I think it would be a good idea to Read Little Malt’s Introduction, “How to train a dog” before you read this. I fully agree with everything she says.

Little Malt’s Summary on how to train a dog


  • The importance of building that love, security and comfort
  • Having good experiences with your puppy – always
  • Being patient and understanding
  • Not making your dog frightened or anxious
  • Teaching us to love being touched and petted

Little Malt also tells you how to train a dog in these areas: -

  • Housetraining
  • To stop dogs chewing the wrong things
  • To “sit”
  • The “come” command
  • Dogs to love the car

A list of new dog commands from Jerry

These are all very important but your dog must know more than these basics. I will take you through what I think are the other commands that all dogs should learn to obey. We will look at the way I learned to do these things as a young dog.

Of course, a very clever dog like myself can learn almost anything. I have friends who climb ladders, catch criminals and lead humans with poor eyesight through a crowded city!

How to train your dog - What training you will learn here

  • Watch me or look – getting attention first or nothing else works!
  • How to walk properly on a leash
  • The “down” command
  • How to “stay”
  • And how you can understand “NO”

Where to start with dog training

We all must start somewhere. I think if you can teach your dog to understand and obey these basic commands here, with the introduction from Little Malt, then everyone will be happy.

It is difficult to keep a young dog focussed because it is such an exciting new world so lessons should last no more than 15 minutes. Young puppies or dogs who are easily distracted may need even shorter sessions. If you run your training session too long, dogs get distracted and bored. Then there’s a good chance they’ll start making mistakes.

Where to start with dog training?

Repeat, repeat and repeat for succesful dog training

Don’t think that because a little dog learns your lesson that it is all over because just like little children, we forget. Doing it often and repeating is very important. Set a time aside each day or twice a day and do your very best to stick to a schedule – repeat, repeat and repeat.

I will use my command words but, in some cases, you might use other words but just make sure they are short and strong. My Beagle friend doesn’t understand any of my human’s commands! His human talks a language called Vietnamese and my beagle friend understands this! She is still a very good girl, but I have no idea what they say to her! I don’t understand her command words.

Watch me or Look - How to train a dog

Get your dog's attention when training

You must make sure you have your dog’s attention before teaching any command. Don’t expect to get a dog’s attention unless you are giving the dog your full attention!

Getting attention Step 1

Food treats are best for this exercise. Kneel on the ground with a few small treats hidden in your hand with your dog in front of you. Bring the treat up to your eyes and as soon as the dog looks you in the face, praise him and give him a treat. Do this a few times then stop and wait for your dog to look you in the face and reward him with a treat and praise each time. This YouTube video may help you.

Getting attention step 2

Your dog now knows to look at you in the face for a reward; now with you on the ground, put your hand in front of your dog’s face. Put your palm in front his nose but say nothing. When your dog touches your palm, you must give him praise and a treat immediately. As soon as he looks you in the eye again, show him your palm (like a “stop” sign), praise him and give him a treat. Do this a few times and your dog will soon learn to look at you. Keep repeating this for a few days and maybe also do it with a favorite toy. He will soon understands that he should look at you when your hand is held out flat.

Attention- How to train a dog

No training will work well unless you have a dog’s attention. Make sure your dog knows that paying attention to you means praise and reward. With your dog’s attention, there is every chance that he will learn quickly, and your other training exercises will be easy.  

Leash training or Lead training

Even before you start, you must make sure your puppy has a good collar that fits properly and a good leash. Let your puppy get used to wearing a collar inside before you try anything else. This may take a few days to get used to something “heavy” around the neck. Only when your puppy is used to a collar should you attach a leash. This is best done in the house or in the garden and make sure there is nothing else around to take his attention. ( Apart from a few treats you have in your pocket!)

Always get attention first! - How to train a dog

Get your dog’s attention even if it means standing still for a while until he stops circling around. As soon as the leash goes slack, praise him and give him a treat. Even if he takes a bit of time, your dog will eventually stop to look at you to try and work out what is happening. Praise and treat as soon as this happens.

Now you may start walking but stop still as soon as he pulls or is not walking the way you want. Make sure you praise and reward for doing the right thing! Nearly all dogs will walk properly very quickly but they will forget and/or get distracted. Again, stop still until you get his attention again, then praise and walk on.

dog training Teching your dog to walk on a leash

Walking by your side

Dogs will go from one side to another to begin with so they must be taught to walk on one side. We usually try and walk on the left-hand side (this leaves your right hand free for other things). Going from one side to another can be dangerous for you humans as we might trip you up and you may fall and injure your dog!   

Keep the leash short

Keep the leash short so that the dog cannot easily leave your side. Praise him (and a treat maybe) for walking exactly where you want him to. Make sure it’s not so short that you are pulling the dog. Keep him by your side by giving the occasional treat and keep praising.  

The treats and praise should keep coming as you walk. Then walk a little longer between treats until your dog gets the idea of walking at your side for praise only, without the treats. After a while, you can increase the amount of loose leash and he should stay walking by your side. This little YouTube video may help you, How to leash train a puppy 

But my Dog Keeps pulling, what do I do?

If your puppy keeps pulling, turn around and walk the other way but please don’t pull him around hard! When he turns and follows you, praise and reward again. Do not walk forward if he continues to pull but turn around again until he gets the idea.

Tried everything and my dog still pulls!

Look at yourself first. You may be encouraging him to pull by hurrying along with him! In some bad cases, you may need a different collar or a head halter to help train him for a little while. You might also consider some lessons from a professional trainer. This video might also help How to teach your dog not to pull

The “Down” command

This is quite easy to do if you have already taught your dog the “sit” command because it is just taking that ‘sit’ training one step further. 

Get the dog to sit in front of you and show him a treat. Lower the treat to the ground and toward you while pointing to the ground. The dog will follow your movement down with his body, lowering his head and stretching toward the treat.

When your dog reaches the “Down” position, say “Down,” give him the treat, and praise him. Do this at least 5 times each time and gradually he will lie down with just the command and the point to the floor. This very short and simple video may help Teach your dog the “Down” command.

sad dog dogs don't need crates

The “Stay” command

This is one command you humans find difficult, usually because you sometimes reward us for “come” and not stay!

It is best if the dog is sitting. You can try with a long leash at first and just hold out your palm like ‘stop”. Take a step away, say “stay” wait for a few seconds and you must walk back to the dog and give him praise and a treat but only if he is still sitting!

Do this many time and after a while go a little further away; just an extra step to begin with.  

Maybe start this at home or in the garden, then do it often in different places like the park or at a friend’s house.  

Just slowly increase the time you want your dog to stay. Do this often but increase the time by a few seconds only each time. 

Keep your eye on your dog and if you think he is going to move, go back quickly and try to reward him BEFORE he moves. Once he understands the palm out and “stay” you can then start trying with your dog standing. This video might help How to teach your dog to stay.

The “No” Command- How to train a dog

Nearly every human seems to use this word, but I don’t really know many dogs who understand it! Some humans just keep saying it like a broken record. It sound to me like it’s just the human way of barking.

As young puppies we make a mess on the floor “NO!” or we bark at a neighbor “NO!” or we chew a slipper “NO!” or we dig a hole in the garden “NO!”.

You humans just seem to want to join in our fun. You can’t bark but you shout, “NO, NO, NO”.

At best, I think some smart dogs like myself understand that a loud “No” means you don’t love me! You reject us, and we get sad and hide in a corner. We really don’t understand why you are taking away your love?

Think? What does "NO" mean? - How to train a dog

Because we often don’t know what to do with the word “No”, we usually just ignore it and that doesn’t help anyone.

Ask yourself, “when do I usually shout the word “NO”? Does it mean please stop barking or does it mean please stop digging in the garden. Maybe it just means stop smelling that dog poo that’s been left in the dog park?

Don't just say "NO" - tell us what you want us to do?

I think at best the word “NO” usually means, “look at your human”, but after that what must we do? We dogs are looking for something positive after the word, something else to do like “walk on” or come and play with this toy! Think of anything else you want us to do that is good and then you can reward us with words or a treat. In other words, if you want us to stop doing something, get our attention and tell us what you want us to do.

We need special commands for one thing only

You can train us to understand “stop barking” but make up a word for that command. When I was little my human would shout in a low voice “Bah” and ask me to do something else like come and play. I still know if he says “Bah” he wants me to stop barking.

When I sit on one of his favorite chairs, he may say “No” and I look at him, then he tells me “down”. I know “down”, he wants me to lie on the floor and rewards me with kind words. If I smell some poo in the park, he might so “No”, I look at him and he tells me to “walk on”. I know “walk on” and I do it and he praises me.

Do you get the idea? We just don’t often understand the word apart from maybe, “Look at me” then you can tell us to do something good!  

confused dog - what do you mean NO -
'What do you mean? "NO"?"

You humans just use the word too often and we just don’t know what you mean? Its best if we just understand it means “look at me” if you are going to use it. If you have our attention, give us another command we do understand.

Dog trainers talk about giving a dog an “alternative behaviour”. As soon as you see us doing something you don’t want us to do ask us to do a replacement behavior. Make sure you praise and reward for us making the right choice.

Positive interruption

It’s all about interrupting the bad behaviour and if there is something quite specific you can introduce a new command word. An example would be a word like “Bah” to mean “stop barking”. Another example would be the command “off” to get us to move from your favorite chair but basically the word “NO” can mean so many different things it’s not worth using. At best maybe use it as an “interruption word” just to get our attention so youcan give us a command we understand. I like this video, Positive interruption noise which may tell you more. The lady in the video just doesn’t use the word “No” at all!

How to train a dog - Summary

  • Follow this and Little Malt’s How to train a dog” and you have a dog that is:
  • Housetrained
  • happy and not a chewer of the wrong things
  • loved and willing to please you
  • Likes being petted
  • Loves the car

We have also told you how we learned the commands:-

  • To “sit”
  • The “come” command
  • How to walk properly on a leash
  • The “down” command
  • How to “stay”
  • And how you can understand “NO”
Remember also, before any training you MUST HAVE A DOG”S ATTENTION!

Get these basics right, understand how to train a dog generally and you are going to have the best 10-15 years of your life!

Dogs lives are too short, their only fault really.
Agnes Slight Turnbull

Further reading

Dog obedience training tools by Jerry

This is really the third part of our dog training pages.

Jerry describes the only things you need to purchase for succesful dog training,

He also looks at some dog training aids that are quite unnecessary for successful dog training.

Jerry then gives his opinion on a few dog training aids and tips that we believe should NEVER be used so please don’t try!

Read more here

 Dogs Playing by Jerry Shep

Jerry Shep explains the importance of play in helping a dog grow to be a good, friendly and loved member of the family pack

He explains how dog play is not just fun for all but it is healthy and play can stop humans taking their dogs to the vet as often.

A little understanding of what dog’s think (or at least what Jerry thinks) should help you humans bond better with us dogs. Read more here