Trying to control a dog that hasn't learned obedience commands is exhausting and often near impossible. Really, dogs don't speak English or any other human language, so how can we expect them to communicate with us if we haven't provided any vocabulary for them? Teaching four simple commands to your puppy or dog will make a world of difference and provide a great opportunity for bonding.
Keep in mind that puppies have short attention spans, and it is unreasonable to expect to have your puppy's full attention for a long period of time. Inside or outside, there are so many distractions, so keep your training sessions very short at first, gradually increasing the amount of time spent each day.
Sit is a very important command for a dog to learn. It will provide a quick means for you to gain control of your dog in any situation. One of the easiest commands to teach, it should be taught early on, using the following method:
Put your puppy on leash, and have him stand in front of you. With the leash in one hand and a treat in the other, show your puppy the treat by holding it slightly above his nose. As he raises his head to take the food, slowly move the treat upward and backward toward his tail, keeping the treat directly above his nose. Your puppy will automatically sit as he tries to follow the treat with his eyes and nose. As soon as his hips hit the ground, say "Sit!", and praise him and give him the treat.
Down is another useful command and also very important for a puppy to learn early on. It can be a little more challenging to teach, but don't give up! With a little patience, your dog will learn the Down command in no time. Follow these steps:
Kneel on the floor so you and your puppy are at eye level, and hold a treat in one hand. Let the puppy sniff the treat, and slowly move it down toward the floor between his feet. Your puppy should plant his front feet and automatically fold his body into the Down position. Once his elbows and belly are on the ground, give the Down command, and then praise him and give him the treat.
The goal of the Stay command is to teach your dog to hold the position of a particular command, such as Sit or Down. Avoid using the Stay command when you really just want your dog to wait, like if you're heading into the house and you want your dog to wait outside. This can cause confusion, as you probably just want him to remain in the general vicinity where you've left him, not like a statue in one position, as the Stay command implies. To teach your dog to stay, follow these steps:
Start with your puppy on a leash, sitting beside you. Tell him to Sit and to Stay, putting your open palm in front of his nose. Once he has remained still for a few seconds, praise him and give him a treat. Most dogs will only be able to hold the Stay position for 5 or 10 seconds at first, but gradually, over a number of sessions, you can begin to increase the stay time. Once your dog is able to stay for 10 seconds or more, begin to move away from him, a little farther each time.
When you use the Come command, your pup should come running to you immediately, without hesitation. In order to ensure this throughout his lifetime, it's important for the teaching of this command to include fun games and treats. Some owners make the mistake of only using this command when it's time to get in the crate or do something else that might not exactly excite the dog. If that's the case, he will quickly learn that the Come command indicates the end of his freedom, and he will probably ignore you the next time you call. So grab some tasty tidbits and a toy or two, and follow these steps:
Show your dog a treat or toy, and then toss it for him to fetch. As he runs for it, head in the opposite direction, and get out of his line of sight. Then, enthusiastically say your puppy's name. When he finds you, reward him with praises, kisses, and lots of love! Repeat this game several times every day, but not enough to bore your dog. Eventually, he will learn to automatically run to you every time you call his name.
Teaching your dog obedience commands provides a way for you to easily communicate with him, and once he's able to understand and obey, you will find that your life and his are much more enjoyable.