Trainer Tips–Other helpful commands

6September 2013

I sometimes forget about all the other helpful commands/ cues you can teach your dog.  These are not things generally taught in most group classes, but sometimes come up in private lessons.  Regardless, they are helpful cues to teach your dog.  So I am going to share them with you.

These commands/ cues are in addition to, what I consider, the basics.
Basic Commands:
Look/ Watch Me
Come when called
Drop It
Leave It
Walking properly on a leash

Remember, as with all cues, do NOT get in the habbit of repeating yourself.  Say a cue one time, and one time only.  If the dog does not respond, WAIT 30 seconds to a minute.  Then give a No Reward Marker of “Uh-Oh,” reposition yourself (this helps “reset” the training), and try again.  Always also remember to give your dog their Reward Marker, “Good” or “Yes,” every single time the dog does as asked.  EVERY TIME!  The Reward Marker of “Good” or “Yes” given every time the dog performs as desired is vitally important to continue to improve your dog’s behavior and response to commands.
Also remember, as with any new command/ cue, you may use any word you wish for the cue, as long as you consistently use that same word.

I use this cue for a variety of things.  The most common use is tell a dog to get off of the furniture or off of a person.  To teach this cue is pretty simple.  It is helpful to also teach the cue “On” while teaching the cue “Off.”  To do this you basically food lure a dog onto a piece of furniture, as he jumps up, you say “On.”  Then food lure him off the furniture while saying “Off” as he is jumping down.  Remember to use your “Good,” then treat, each time he obeys.  As he gets better, starting pointing to the spot and saying “On,” then pointing away from the spot towards the floor, and saying “Off.”

This cue is also helpful for other things including urine marking, possessive behavior, and dominance.  For example, if you have a dog that likes to pee on every tree and bush, start using your cue of “Off” the instant the dog gives you a signal that he is going to mark.  Some distraction (a clap of the hands) may also be helpful used with the command “Off.”  Another instance is a dog who resource guards treats or toys.  You can use the command “Off” to teach him to back off of those items.

I specifically chose the words, “Go Home,” for this cue because I have witnessed people telling it to random wandering dogs.  So this can be helpful to teach your dog in case one day he gets lost and someone tells him to “Go Home.”  This cue is also pretty easy to teach.  Basically any time we come back from a walk or car ride, I will point towards the door of our place and say, “Go Home.”  Your dog may or may not be on a leash for this.  When the dog moves in the correct direction towards your door, give your “Good.”  When your dog gets to the actual door, give a very excited “Good!”

As with any cue, the more you practice, the better your dog will get.  I can now tell my dogs from several hundred feet away from our door to “Go Home,” and they will do so.  (We currently live on the second floor and they know to go upstairs and to our door.)

This cue is often helpful.  This training usually begins with food luring your dog onto his bed or into his crate and adding your cue word of “Bed” or “Kennel” as he is going to his destination.  Again remember your “Good” every time the dog does as asked.  As your dog gets better, you can move onto pointing at the bed, and saying your cue word (looking at it also helps).

Some people also use the word “Shake.”  I personally recommend using the word “Paw,” for two reasons.  Reason one, I use the word “Shake” to mean shake the water off after swimming or a bath.  Reason two, using the word “Paw” means you can also apply the command to leash mishaps.  For example, if you have a dog that has a tendency to step over his leash and get tangled, next time, say “Paw” while lifting the paw that is tangled and swinging the leash out.  Doing this over time will improve your dog to the point where you can be walking, see a leash tangle, say your command of “Paw,” have the dog automatically lift the leg that is tangled, be able to swing the leash out of the way, and continue on your way.

Teaching “Paw” as in “Shake hands” is also a great trick for your dog to learn.  Furthermore, dogs should be able to be touched on their feet (and anywhere else) without reacting negatively.  Teaching your dog this cue will not only give him a great trick to show off, but will help him remain calm during veterinarian exams.

This is one of my favorite cues.  This command can be helpful in many situations.  First off there is a difference between wait and stay.  The command “Stay” always means, stay here until I come back to you (the dog).  Wait means, stay here until I give you something else to do (followed by another command, such as come, or release).
Before teaching the command “Wait,” I very highly recommend that you teach your dog a reliable “Stay” cue first.  It is very easy for a dog to wait for a second and then run to you.  It is much harder for a dog to learn to stay in one spot until you return to them.  Once your dog has a reliable “Stay” cue (you can go out of sight and back without the dog moving), only then should you move onto teaching the “Wait.”

To teach wait, you start it front on the dog, put your stop sign hand signal up (same as Stay), and give the command “Wait.”  Back up a few feet, stop, say “Good,” wait a few seconds, then call the dog to “Come.”  Repeat.

Another way to teach this cue is with a long line (20-30 foot leash).  I often teach this to Adventure client’s dogs while out on a hike.  I let the long line drag for most of the leash and only hold the last part of the leash.  BEFORE the dog reaches the end of the line, I step on the leash on the ground and say my command of “WAIT” right before the dog gets to the end of the leash.  If done correctly, your cue word will coincide with the exact time the dog reaches the end of the line and bounces back.  (This is best done with a harness.)

This is the cue I use to tell a dog to remove themselves from a room, location, or enclosure.  To teach the “Out” command from a room, simply start with you and your dog in any room.  Point away from the current location and say “Out.”  Slowly and calmly back your dog with your legs out of the room (while still pointing out).  Once the dog crosses the line (past where you want them out of or past the doorway), say your “Good,” and reward.

This is a command to teach a dog to bark, make noise, and let someone know they mean business.  When my husband and I lived in the city, this was very helpful.  We use the command “Who is it?” with emphasis on the entire phrase.  I say it in a way that is meant to get the dogs excited, start barking, and go see who might be at the door or in the yard.

Be very careful with this command.  If your dog has ANY aggressive tendencies what-so-ever, please do not use this command.  Teaching a proper Alert response is about letting the owner know someone is there, and to potentially deter dangerous persons from your house, yard, or current location.  This cue is NOT intended to get dogs so excited that they attack and bite randomly.  If you are looking into teaching your dog protection work, this cue should not be taught until you have entered protection training.  A dog properly trained in protection will not randomly attack and can be approached and pet normally.