Rescue Dog Training Sit, Stay and Come

Published: 06th June 2009
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If we were training a puppy we'd have a much easier job ahead since a new pup hasn't had the chance to develop any bad habits. But, we're dealing with a dog with a history. An unknown history most likely. Perhaps he knows the meaning of "No". Or, maybe he's disobedient and was a runaway. Or, perhaps you'll be pleasantly surprised and find your new family member already trained or at least very trainable. Regardless, your next step will be the same.

You need to begin basic obedience training immediately. And your first order of business is to teach your dog his name (if it's a new name) followed by the "come" command. This will also be an important step in the process of you assuming the role of "Alpha dog" in the family unit (see my article Rescue Dog Training - How to Become the Alpha Dog of Your Home on this Web site).

Keep in mind; older dogs are slower to respond than puppies, so you'll require a great deal of patience and persistence. But trust me; it'll pay off years to come.

Teaching your dog his name is really quite simple and can be done almost anytime you and your dog are spending quality time together. Simply say his name with a pleasant tone until he looks at you. At that moment, praise him or give him a treat. Do this at every opportunity throughout the day and he will eventually associate his name with something good and even exciting - getting praise and possibly even a treat!

This is a good time to mention something very important - NEVER say your dog's name when you scold him. This may take some restraint on your part. But, you don't want your dog to associate his name with anything negative or bad. As your dog becomes familiar with his name, begin the obedience training. The logical sequence is to train your dog to SIT, then STAY and finally COME, while you incorporate the use of your dog's name before each command. For purposes of this article I'll use the name Max.

I learned this method from the dog training resource I reference below. Actually, I was skeptical of its effectiveness when I first read it, but darned if it didn't work and it worked quickly in my case.

As you and your dog are facing each other, place one of his favorite treats in your hand and hold it in front of your dog's nose in clear view to see and smell. Then, raise your hand, with the treat, slightly above your dog's head and move it back slowly over his head toward his rear. If all goes as planned, your dog will stare at your hand with the treat and will be forced to sit just to keep his balance.

At the moment he sits, hand him the treat and praise him using his name. But do NOT use the SIT command just yet. Repeat this exercise often in various locations and with varying levels of distraction until you are confident he will sit every time you use this method. Next step, perform the exact same exercise but introduce the "Max, sit" command.

When your dog obeys consistently, begin the same training with his leash attached, since you will often want him to sit when you are on walks and its best to get him acclimated to the leash now rather than later.

You may find the "stay" command a little more difficult since it will test not just your patience but your dog's patience as well. Start with you and your dog in the same positions as you were when you were training him to sit. Give the "Max, sit" command. Next, place your hand, with palm exposed, in the front of his face as you give the "Max, stay" command. Back up a few steps. Stand still for several seconds and, if he remained sitting, hand him a treat with praise.

Wait a couple more seconds and release him with an "ok boy" and allow him to rise up. Do not give him a treat after you release him. The treat is for staying.

Perform this exercise repeatedly while adding several more seconds each time and backing up a few more steps each time. The goal is to have your dog associate "staying" with a treat. Should your dog disobey, in a very even, unemotional tone, say "no". Then start over with the "Max, sit" command, then "Max, stay" and reward each time he performs. If need be, go back to shorter intervals. He'll eventually catch on. Be patient, be persistent.

As soon as he consistently stays for 10 second intervals, add a new twist. After you give the "Max, stay" command, begin walking slowly around and behind your dog. No doubt he will follow you with his eyes and may even succumb to temptation and attempt to rise up to follow. Say "no", then "Max, stay", praise and give a treat when he obeys. Repeat until he is able to stay sitting as you walk completely around him. Praise and treat as often as you feel appropriate as he remains in sitting position. Release him after increasingly longer time intervals. But do NOT give praise or a treat when you release him with an "ok", because the treat is for staying.

As with the sit command, practice this exercise in different locations, with varying levels of distractions.

Since your dog is now accustomed to staying with a leash on, we'll take advantage of that training. Start by standing on the right side of your dog, both of you facing the same direction. Give the "Max, sit" command. Praise and treat. Then place the palm of your hand in front of your dog's nose and give the "Max, stay" command. With leash in hand, walk in front of your dog at leash length, turn and face him.

Keep him in the sitting position for a few seconds. Then give the "Max, come" command and encourage him to come by tugging on the leash gently. When he comes to you, lavish with praise and treats. Unlike releasing him from the stay position (which doesn't warrant praise), the come command requires your dog to perform a specific action. Praise is appropriate.

Repeat this exercise until your dog requires no tug on the leash to obey. Next, remove the leash and begin repeating the exercise as you slowly extend your distance from your dog before you give him the "Max, come" command.

Here's another good tip I learned from the manual I reference and link to below. When you use the "come" command, be sure it ends in a pleasant experience. Lavish with praise, treats or both. If your dog ever should associate "come" with a bad experience, he'll learn that it's best to disregard the command. In conclusion, make sure you are a knowledgeable dog owner who has at his disposal excellent instruction that will help you correct any negative behavior your dog may exhibit during his long, happy life. Visit my site referenced below to review the two resources I found to be most useful.

Having adopted several rescue dogs, Bob often references a few resources that provide training techniques to correct any negative behavior a dog with an unknown history could exhibit - from timidity and anxiety to aggression. One such resource is the Do-It-Yourself Dog Training Manual.

To obtain immediate access to this comprehensive compendium of dog training techniques, visit Bob's Rescue Dog Blog - DogsRpeople2 at

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