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Taking care of a dog may seem like an easy, fun task, but many
struggle with teaching their dog basic commands. These
commands, such as sit and stay, are important for your dog's safety
and will also make your life with your new friend much more
Training should start right when the dog is brought to their new
home. Dr. Stacy Eckman, lecturer at Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said whether
teaching a young puppy or an old dog, commands should begin right
when the owner gets the animal.
"As puppies, they are quite eager to learn. It may take a
little patience, but start with the little commands," she said.
"Even if you acquire your pet when it is a little older, many are
still quite capable of learning basic commands."
The training should begin with basic commands, such as sit and
stay, which are easy for most dogs to master. Teaching these
basic commands allow the animal to learn your training
system. After successfully teaching them basic commands,
Eckman recommends teaching the dog heal, come, and not to jump on
"I think the most important commands deal with listening to your
instructions and are for their own safety such as sit, stay heal,
and come," she said. "Teaching them not to jump on people is also
To train a dog, Eckman said it is best to use simple one or two
word phrases combined with hand gestures. Reinforcing good
behavior and mastering of a skill with a reward is a great way to
train a dog, she added.
"Saying 'sit' coupled with a simple hand gesture works well and
reward them when they get it," Eckman said.
Another tip Eckman suggested is training the dog in a place the
pet will not be easily distracted. Instead of teaching the
dog a skill at the dog park, for example, teach the task at home
where there are not as many distractions.
"Have them master the skill at home or in a quiet environment
initially before adding the additional challenge," she said.
If the dog is struggling to grasp the command, consult your
veterinarian about the next step.
"I think all dogs learn differently and need different rewards,
and that is where discussing with your veterinarian what your goals
are is very important and they can help you in this area," she
said. "They can discuss with you the methods you are using and the
goals you are trying to achieve, then point you to a resource such
as training classes or books that fit your methodology."
There are multiple methodologies used to train dogs, ranging
from positive reinforcement when the command is followed to
punishment and negative rewards. Eckman said it all depends
on the owner's beliefs and goals for their pet.
Training classes are another option many pet owners
consider. These courses are often offered at local pet stores
and by obedience training facilities. For recommendations on
training courses, Eckman said to ask friends who have been to the
classes and veterinarians for their recommendations.
It is not always necessary to send a dog to a trainer because
many basic commands can be taught with patience and time.
"Dogs learn at all different levels-some just take longer than
others to learn it," Eckman said. "Be patient and reinforce the
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