We don’t usually have our dogs leashed at home so we need to train them without their leashes. Believe me, techniques to train our dogs quickly and effectively really do exist. Reward-training is not at all difficult but enjoyable, instead, for you and your dogs, even for your kids to master. Luring your dogs with a reward is fun yet effective because this technique is very easy to be understood.
To do this training, you can use kibble as the reward. Provide your dog’s allotment of kibble on a daily basis and let the whole family try. Put the kibble in a jar and use every piece of it throughout the day.
It’s a bit different in training puppies and adult dogs. If you’ve got a puppy, try saying, “Puppy, come!” and your pup will run to you while you’re acting silly toward her. Remember to praise her when she arrives, and then give the kibble as a reward by grabbing her collar.
If your dog is an adult one, you can have a few family members to play together. You just need to say, “Doggy, come!” and then squat down to lurch her kibble. Try to include a name if you want to practice yo-yo (back and forth). For example, you can say, “Doggy, go to John!” and John should call the dog over. When John has grabbed the dog’s collar, John can pick the next person to be called. By playing this game, your dog can memorize all of your names and also master the “go to” command.
To teach your dog “sit” command, you need to make your dog follow the movement of your lure to sit down. Again, take a piece of her daily kibble and have your dog look up to the food just above her snout. If she jumps up, hold the treat a bit closer to her. But if she backs up instead, try to do this exercise in a corner. Always remember to praise her every time she does a good job. You can say, “Good girl!” or “Good boy!” if your dog is a male. Give the reward and keep trying to have her sit in front of you every time you call her.
A bit like how we teach her “sit” command, the “down” command also uses hand movement to be followed by your dog as the explanation of your command. Prepare your piece of kibble and command her, “down!” then bring the food downward fast from her snout to the middle of her two forepaws. Praise her again when she lies down and reward the food. A tip for you in the beginning, trying to give “down” command might be much easier after you’ve given “sit” command because her backside would be already down.
If you want to try giving “down” command while she is standing, prepare your kibble and hold it with your finger and thumb. Put your palm downwards and hold the treat on the floor. The food you’re holding will attract her attention and trigger her to lower her snout then lay her elbow and chest on the floor. Say, “good girl!” and slowly drag the kibble closer to her chest through the middle of her forepaws. When she tries to follow the food, her backside will move rearwards as she lies down. Time to praise her again and then go a bit further from her so you can call her to come over, sit in front of you and then lie down.
By doing these exercises, you’ve introduced hand-signals to your dog. When your upward palm is moved up, your dog will understand that you ask her to sit, while moving your downward palm down is the same as “lie down” command.
You will want to teach your dog “stand” command. This command is needed when you take her to her vet and get examined. Use your hand’s movement to lead your dog to stand up. Say, “stand!” and use a piece of kibble to lure her. Lurch the kibble and drag it to where her snout will be, based on her height when standing. Praise her, “good girl!” and hand over the food as usual.
Keep practicing these commands but not in order. Remember to always praise and reward her every time she does a good job. Your dog will learn quickly and when she’s already capable of responding well, trigger her to do even better by rewarding her only if she reacts wonderfully. It’s a great idea to have your family members to compete with each other. The goal is to shoot as many commands as possible by using one reward only.
Teaching this command isn’t the same with the previous ones. You don’t use hand movement with a reward to lure, but by delaying in giving the reward, instead. Still, praise her each time she responses correctly, but delay the time to hand over the food. Make it slower one step at a time. Count a few seconds before you give the kibble. Maybe try two seconds in the beginning, and then four seconds, six, nine, fourteen, twenty, thirty, fifty, then realize that your dog responses fast willingly and keep quiet for a few minutes.
Eliminating Food Rewards As Lures
All of the exercises above use kibble not only as a lure to attract our dogs, but also as the reward after. To eliminate this practice, change the item to be used as the lures and rewards. For example, have a tennis ball to lure the dog, but then reward her with a Kong. You can also use a kibble to lure her but give “go play” command for the reward. Keep repeating this activity by removing the lure then your hand-signals and verbal commands will be enough. After reaching this level, never use kibble as a lure anymore, but only to reward your dog.
Eliminating treats for rewards means even more fun for you and your dog. You can offer activities together as rewards or any other more meaningful rewards. Maybe have her follow your commands before you’re willing to play catch with her, or before you release her leash, or even just to share a couch. With these all passed, now you can have her sit eating her supper in a bowl because she won’t need the kibble for lures and rewards anymore. She’s now a reward-training graduated.