Puppy training can begin at 8 weeks of age. And it should commence with the most basic command, ‘sit’, which sets the foundation for the more complex ones.
Training your puppy to sit is pretty simple as sitting is a natural action. What comes in handy is positive reinforcement – usually in the form of your puppy’s favourite things like toys, treats, or love. More of than not, treats are known to do the trick.
There are two easy training methods to teach your puppy how to associate the word ‘sit’ with the action:
As the name suggests, this technique involves gently luring your puppy into learning using a high-value reward.
Bend down in front of your puppy and say the ‘sit’ command in a calm yet assertive tone. Hold his favourite treat in your hand and take it toward his nose. Once he sniffs it to be delicious, direct it over his head. He is eat, and that will automatically put him in the ‘sit’ position. As soon as his furry behind touches the floor, praise him and give him the treat. Here, timing is key – offer the treat the second he is in ‘sit’ position.
Repeat this exercise several times a day, ideally before his meals so he’s more interested in his treats. Once your puppy understands the ‘sit’ command, start using a hand signal, say a stretched out open palm, without the lure (but never without verbal praise). However, do offer intermittent rewards – once every 4-5 times he understands correctly. This way he will have more of a desire to be a good boy. The ultimate goal is for your puppy to learn the hand signal and the command, and perform the corresponding action, with or without seeing a reward.
This is a more natural and fun method of training your pup. To put it into action, you require a clicker and lots of treats (away from your pup’s sight).
Once it’s training time, get your things ready and stay close to your pup. Each time his tail touches the floor and he gets into the ‘sit’ position, you go ‘click’ and toss him a treat. At first, your pup will be confused and won’t be able to understand what prompted the treat. Repeat this act a few times. After a few repetitions, his puppy brain will run wild and he will start performing certain random actions like getting a toy, pawing you, barking, etc. to figure out your thought process. Eventually, over a period of few days and repeated ‘click-treat’ sessions, he will put two and two together. That will excite him like nothing else and he may give you a dozen sits in a row to earn him more treats.
Now, once he understands the ‘sit-click-treat’ pattern, start using the verbal command ‘sit’ along with the clicker. Try conducting his training sessions in different environments and using various kinds of distractions so no matter where you two are, he is comfortable sitting when need be.
- In case your puppy is unable to grasp the ‘sit’ command even after repeated attempts, do not resort to negative reinforcement like yelling, forcing into the ‘sit’ position, or punishment. Instead, try using better rewards like fresh meat, liverwurst, chunks of sausage, etc.
- Short, positive training sessions are always more productive than longer, tiring ones that ultimately fail to keep his interest.
- From the very start, include day-to-day activities in his training. For e.g. practice the ‘sit’ command before handing him over the food bowl or at the main entrance so he understands that he needs to sit before mealtime and to greet guests.
A lot of pet parents tend to think that teaching their pet commands is unnecessary and maybe even mean. It’s anything but; it’s absolutely necessary for your pet to be polite and respectful toward you in order for both of you to enjoy a peaceful and happy life.