Dog Training Tips

With the holidays close at hand, many people may be looking to adopt pets. While pets are amazing and bring joy to our lives, dogs in particular may need a little more training to navigate the complexities of the human world they live in.

In this week’s column, we’ll discuss some helpful tips for teaching a dog to sit, and also to not jump up on people. The sit command is often the first command that a dog learns, and it’s one that we aim to teach our dogs at the shelter. Even dogs that know the command can benefit from a refresher!

The Sit and Stay Commands

  1. Begin by placing a treat in your hand and approaching the dog, placing the treat at the dog’s eye level.

  2. Move your hand with the treat above and a little behind the dog’s head.

  3. Say “sit, and hold your other hand outstretched above the dog, which will be the visual part of your command.

  4. When the dog sits down to more easily investigate what’s in your hand, provide lots of praise, along with the treat.

Once the dog has learned sit, then it’s easy to begin teaching the stay command.

  1. First, say “stay” and have the dog maintain the sit position with you standing right there.

  2. Then, practice backing away slightly, and increase the distance when telling the dog to stay until you can be across the room with them maintaining the “stay.”

Training Dogs Not to Jump on People

The “sit” and “stay” commands are a great starting point to teach dogs a variety of commands and tricks. For example, “sit” is very helpful when teaching a dog not to jump up on people. It’s a natural behavior for dogs to want to jump up to greet their friends, but especially in medium-to-large dogs, jumping on people can potentially knock down a person and cause injury, especially in physically frail individuals and children. Jumping can also lead to scratches, and on muddy days, unwanted stains on clothing.

For those with dogs who have an inclination to jump on people, the Humane Society of the United States recommends both management to prevent jumping from occurring and training to teach the dog not to try to jump in the first place. Management can take the form of having the dog on leash when visitors arrive. You may step on the dog’s leash to keep it short enough to prevent jumping.

When training a dog not to jump on people, keep in mind that dogs engage in behaviors, such as jumping, to get some form of reward, so figuring out the dog’s motivation and removing the motivation is key to stopping an unwanted behavior. In the case of jumping, dogs are often seeking attention or interaction, so ignoring the dog when engaging in that behavior can be helpful. Also, you can give the “sit” command when visitors come up to interact with the dog, and instruct them to only pet or talk to the dog when all four paws are on the floor. It’s even possible to enlist visitors who your dog likes to assist in this training. The Humane Society of The United States gives the following tips:

  1. “ Give your dog the "sit" command. (This exercise assumes your dog already knows how to "sit.")

  2. The greeter approaches you and your dog. If your dog stands up, the greeter immediately turns and walks away.

  3. Ask your dog to "sit," and have the greeter approach again.

  4. Keep repeating until your dog remains seated as the greeter approaches.

  5. If your dog does remain seated, the greeter can give your dog a treat as a reward.”

The most important aspect of training dogs is that everyone that the dog interacts with should ideally stick to the same rules and responses for behaviors. Dogs are typically unable to understand that jumping