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Just for Kids: Teaching Your Dog to Sit and Stay

By: Virginia Wells

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You should start training your dog soon after you get him. It is important that he learns good manners. Even a new puppy can learn to sit and stay. When your dog learns how to sit and stay, he will behave better all of the time.

The best way to train your dog is to give him rewards for doing what he is supposed to do. Dogs love their treats and will work very hard to get them. Treats can be little pieces of milk bone or even little pieces of his dry food. Your dog also likes to get attention from you as a reward.

You should never punish your dog for not being able to perform a command. It will make him feel confused and then he will be afraid to do anything. You have to be patient to help him to learn.

Sit

Take your dog somewhere quiet where he won't be distracted, like the backyard. Start by holding a small piece of food in front of your dog's nose so that he points his nose up to get the treat. Move the treat back a little bit and soon he will lower his backside to a sitting position. If he jumps for the food, you are probably holding it too high.

As soon as he sits, give him the treat and really praise him. Pat him and say "Good dog." Keep repeating the exercise while saying the word, "sit," so that he will soon associate the word with the act of sitting. Every time he does it, give him praise and a treat.

When he is doing it right most of the time, take him to another location where there are some distractions and try it there, like the front yard or even the family room. Make sure he can do it right there, too. As he gets really good at sitting on command, give him a treat only every fourth time he sits. Soon he will do it without any treats at all. You should still praise him.

Stay

A dog that knows how to "stay" is usually a very well-behaved dog. When you ask your dog to stay, you are asking him to stay where he is until you tell him he can go.

When you teach your dog to stay, it is important that you pay attention. Some dogs learn that when their owners turn their backs, they can get up and walk away without anyone noticing.

Start by having your dog sit. But instead of giving him a treat right away, say "stay," then wait a few seconds before giving him a treat. Then say, "Good dog." The next time, let another second or two go by before you give the treat. Try increasing the time he has to wait for a treat so he is "staying" longer and longer.

When your dog is staying when you tell him to, try walking away from him a little bit. Or you can walk from side to side. When he still stays, walk farther away. Eventually you will be able to leave the room and he will still stay.

Rules

Here are the rules for training your dog:

  • Make training time fun for you and your dog.
  • Keep training sessions short. Five or 10 minutes is good.
  • Always end training sessions with a command your dog knows so he will feel encouraged.
  • Never, never punish your dog for not understanding or doing the command. He will learn soon enough. If he doesn't do it right, he won't get a treat.
  • If food or treats is your dog's reward, be sure to train him before his dinner so he will be a little hungry.
  • Train him after he has had some exercise so he will be calmer.
  • Treats should be small – no bigger than the size of your little fingernail.
  • Make sure you give the treat immediately after doing the command. If you wait, he won't associate the reward with the action.
  • Use short commands like Sit and Stay. Do not repeat the word – just say it once.
  • Put your dog on a leash when you train him at first. This will help him to pay attention.
  • Always praise your dog when he does it right. You can even praise him after he has been trained. Dogs love to be praised.

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