It’s a new year and a new decade, and January starts the year off on the right paw as National Train Your Dog Month. Maybe there was a new puppy under your tree this year, eager to learn, or maybe you have an older dog and know that you really can teach an old dog new tricks with enough patience and diligence. Whatever your pooch’s age, breed, temperament, or place within your pack, there are three tricks that every dog should know, and it’s not just about being able to impress your friends.
Perhaps the ‘oldest trick in the book’ and the absolute most useful to your dog is the time-honored command ‘Sit.’ Teaching a dog to sit is about much more than asking him to stay in one place (which is important) but it’s about teaching your dog to recognize his place in ranking. Many dog breeds are stubborn or headstrong, and bringing your dog to a seated position reminds him that not only does he need to do what you ask of him, but he needs to stay in that position until you give him further instruction. He should know his place in the routine, and sometimes that means parking it exactly where he is. Sitting allows him to properly greet people or other animals in an unintimidating way, but what’s more, it can even save his life. Live in a big city? A simple ‘sit’ command given at a busy intersection can save your best friend’s life. Luckily, ‘sit’ is one of the simplest tricks to teach, especially if you’ve got a pocketful of yummy treats to help guide the process.
In a threatening or unfamiliar situation, many dogs resort to instinct, which can be threatening or aggressive. This instinct can also tell them to tuck their tails between their legs and bolt. Teaching your dog to ‘stay’ is critical to his safety and to the safety of others. New family with little children visiting the house? This can be stressful to a dog, but giving the ‘stay’ command alerts your dog that all is well, that you’ve ‘got their back,’ and that they are at their most secure if they just stay exactly where they are. Busy roads, strange dogs, even a freshly baked pie cooling on the countertop in anticipation of arriving guests; whatever your reason for needing your dog to stay should be met with agreement and compliance. Not only should your dog learn this command to stay in the immediate, but he should understand that the command is in full effect until you say otherwise. This understanding alone truly can save your buddy’s life.
As soon as your dog knows his name, there are no sweeter words than when you call out to him, especially upon arriving home or across a crowded dog park. Adding the ‘come’ command to his vocabulary is helpful and necessary when presenting your dog with unfamiliar surroundings, new people, or new situations, particularly those that come with a fair share of distractions. Being able to bring your dog back to your side in any environment is critical to his safety, the safety of others, and the peace you want to keep in your home, neighborhood, or wherever you take your four-legged companion. ‘Come’ can be a simple trick to master if you offer your dog a treat immediately upon his arrival. In fact, many dogs will return with that simple anticipation, so make sure you reward your dog for coming to you quickly with a quickly presented treat.
Sure, there’s a whole playbook of tricks you can train your buddy to perform. ‘Lie down,’ ‘give paw/shake,’ and ‘roll over’ can easily be added to your wheelhouse as well. But for the safety of your pet and others, it’s important that he learns the basic ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ and ‘come,’ to ensure your buddy is respectful and respected. At Wellness Pet Food, we have all the treats and delicious snacks that dogs crave, the kind of treats that make them really want to master those tricks. And who knows? You may even be able to save his life with one of these simple one-word commands.