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New Puppy Guide - Basic training


TIP - Never scold your puppy for
taking too long to come to you - it will only put him off returning next time!

puppy training

Training your puppy to do what you request is really a matter of motivating him to understand our language. Not many people would go to work day after day without ever being paid - and dogs need a reason to do what we ask, too. For many dogs, particularly puppies, food is the equivalent of a salary - it can act as the ultimate reward, and is also useful to use as a lure in the initial stages of training, too. Of course, a reward is only a reward if your dog likes it. Some dogs prefer playing with toys, or attention from their owner, and not many will want to work for food which they perceive as boring or unpleasant. Treats, such as small cubes of cheese, liver, or pieces of your dog's food, are ideal. There is absolutely no need for your dog to put on weight through using food as a reward - if you are concerned about this, either cut down on your dog's food ration a little, or use a portion of his daily requirement for training purposes. good manners - basic training (sit/down/come)



There are 101 things your dog can't be doing if he's sitting - making 'sit' the most useful of all requests to teach your dog.

  • Show your dog you have a food treat between your finger and thumb. Hold it close to his nose so he can sniff it. Now lift your hand up and back, so he has to look right up to follow your fingers. The movement of him looking upwards like this causes a physical chain reaction - his rear end has to go down.

  • As soon as his bottom hits the ground, say “Good” then give him the treat. If your dog's front legs come off the ground, your hand is probably too high. Concentrate on keeping the food right on his nose, and lift your hand just an inch or two.

  • Practise this a few times. Once your dog is following your hand and sitting reliably, you can add in the word SIT, just before you lure him. In a matter of minutes you have taught your dog a verbal request to sit, plus a really effective hand signal. Now you can vary between sometimes using a food treat, and simply asking for a sit and rewarding afterwards.

  • Practise getting your dog to respond to the word sit before he gets anything in life he likes -his dinner, having his lead put on, being let out into the garden - it's his way of saying please and thank you.


The down sometimes needs a little more patience than the sit. Keep quiet and be persistent - your dog will soon understand what you are asking.

  • Start by asking your dog to sit. Hold the food treat between your finger and thumb and lower your hand, very slowly, down to the floor so that it rests just between your puppy's front paws.

  • Hang on to the treat by turning your palm down, with the food hidden inside your hand. This way, your dog will want to burrow his nose underneath, and he will turn his head sideways to nibble at it.

  • Early indications of imminent success are; the dog raising a paw to try and get the treat from your hand, the front end going down in a 'play-bow' position, and moving backwards slightly. All these things mean you just have to wait. Eventually the back end flops down to the floor, too. At this instant, say “Good' and put the treat onto the floor for the dog to eat.

  • If your dog loses interest halfway down, simply tease him a little with the food treat and then slowly lower it to the floor once more. Practise then makes perfect!

  • As soon as your puppy has got the hang of this, you can give the command “Down” just before you lure him down.

  • Once this is reliable, alternate between food and no food in your hand. Before you know it, your dog will be offering you the down position on a hand signal or voice command only! However, continue to give him rewards for his best efforts in order to maintain good behaviour.


Teaching your dog to come when called means that he will be able to have more freedom where it is safe to have off-lead exercise.

  • Standing only a couple of steps away from your dog, call him in a friendly voice. 'Sam, come!'

  • Waggle the food lure in your outstretched hand and start moving backwards. If the dog shows no response, clap your hands or make silly noises until he looks at you. Then, using the food as a lure, move backwards, just one or two paces. If the dog moves just one step towards you, say “Good' then give him the reward straight away.

  • Gradually increase the distance your puppy has to come to get the food, making sure you praise him lots and give him delicious rewards or a game with a toy for coming when you call.

  • Now practise calling your dog to you at unusual moments in and around the house, then in the garden. Build up your puppy's recall before practising in the park or woods where there are more distractions. Here you can use a long line or extending lead if you are unsure how your puppy will respond. However, bear in mind that the more distractions there are, the better your rewards and praise will have to be!


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