Dog Manners

It will make your life much easier if you first train your canine to listen to basic commands before taking him/her with you while out in public places.

You can imagine that dining at the restaurant might turn into nightmare if your dog will constantly try to jump on the table and steal the food, bother you and other visitors, bark and whine for attention etc. The experience would be much more pleasant if your dog just laid or sat next to you and patiently waited for you to finish your meal. You should also teach your dog to come when called when going to a park or beach where you plan to get him/her off leash.

Training your dog will not only make your outings more relaxed – other people, seeing a well-behaved dog in action, will become more tolerant and acceptant of dogs in public places, which we all should be aiming for.

Here are some tutorials for the basic commands to teach your dog.

Each of the commands have to have a specific “word” associated to it (“sit”, “down”, “come”, “stay”) which you should repeat very often (especially at the beginning) until your dog learns it. Avoid words that are too similar, like “heel” and “kneel” as they might sound the same to your canine. Also avoid saying your dog's name too often together with the command.

Training sessions, especially at the beginning and when you are dealing with the puppy, should be short (10 - 15min) and quite frequent. Stop the training if your dog gets too excited, frustrated and confused, but end it on the positive note (e.g. if you were unsuccessfully trying to teach your dog to roll-over, end your session with the commands that s/he knows – sit, lay etc. so s/he “leaves the class” proudly).

Stop training if you get frustrated, angry or impatient. Your dog will react to your emotions and this will make the learning more difficult.

If you see that you cannot teach your dog one or other command – try to look for other ways of how to teach him/her (there is always “one most popular” way and few quite unique and original). Listen to your own guts on how to make your dog understand what you want.

This is a fairly easy command to teach any dog – just hold a treat or toy (whatever works as a best motivator for your dog) right above your dog's head and gently push your dog to a sitting position. Reward and praise your dog when s/he sits and remains in that position. Repeat training frequently (but at short intervals) and aim for your dog to at some point to sit just by a command (with no treats).

You can start teaching your dog to lay after s/he learns how to sit on command. When your dog is in a sitting position, take a treat and show it your dog. Take the treat close to his/her face and then bring it down to a floor while repeating “down” (or whatever word you have for this command). Your dog should naturally try to lay down and when s/he does – praise him/her and give a treat.

Stay position is also important to use as a tool for your dog to learn not to react to the surrounding distractions, as when you are out, there will be too much of them – starting from kids, cats and other dogs.

For “stay” command you will need two words – one, instructing the dog to “freeze” and the other one to give a command to release him/her (the “stay” command is not considered completed properly if your dog decides on his/her own when it is finished).

Have your dog on leash, instruct him/her to sit, lay or stand (whatever of these are his/her favourite), say “stay” and start moving away from him/her. If s/he manages to not move for even just one second, say “OK” (or any other “release word”) in upbeat voice and give him/her a treat (basically, force him/her to move, jump or do whatever, but not to remain in the same position). Repeat the same on frequent basis each time extending the duration – from 2, 3, 10 seconds (you can give him/her treats every few seconds for still doing the command) until you reach the point where you can have him/her “staying” while you walk out of the room, drop treats around him/her, through balls at him/her etc. and s/he remains still (yes, this will happen).

To teach this command at home is just a joke, most of the dogs will naturally come to you when you call them (let's hope they know their name). It is important that you do use a command and not his/her name and reward your dog when s/he comes to you. After this is settled, you should try teaching your dog to come with distractions (e.g. when s/he starts playing with other dogs at park etc.). You will need to have treats at the beginning until s/he learns to listen with you just by the command.

Teaching your dog to heel will be helpful when walking with him/her in the busy streets (like in Ledra, Nicosia, where most of the dog-friendly restaurants are located).

In order to teach your dog to heel you will need to have him/her on the leash, adjust him/her to walk next to you (some recommend to always ask your dog to walk on your left) and reward him/her throughout the walk when s/he walks besides you, doesn't pull and doesn't try to walk ahead or behind you.

This is one of the difficult commands to teach, also because dogs will not obey the command if you haven't established the “dominance” clearly or if they are too excited and energetic. Some people use “punishment” (kicks to the side, sticks etc.) to teach their dogs to heel, but we believe in “positive training” or just a shorter leash...

Some of the tutorials suggest you to first teach your dog to bark on command and only then teach him/her to stop barking on command. In our case this was a fatal mistake as Buddy learned to bark very quickly and enjoyed it much more than “shutting up”. If your dog doesn't have annoying barking problem, then why bother teaching him/her? Unless you want yourself a guard dog, but this is not what this topic is about.

We would suggest to teach your dog to stop barking if s/he actually tends to go frenzy. In that case the training will be very similar to the one for “stay”, just in this case, bring your dog to the state when s/he tends to bark (take him/her to veranda and garden if s/he barks at wandering cats and passengers or cars passing by, ask your friend to ring a door bell if s/he barks at that, turn on hair dryer or washing machine if s/he goes crazy when these are on) and give him/her a command “quiet”. Reward him/her with a treat even if s/he stops barking for just a second and try to prolong this time by giving the treats constantly until s/he gets a hang of the command.

You may also want to teach your dog not to touch the food until s/he is given a “release” command.

For this you will need to take a treat, show it to your dog and ask him/her to “leave it”. When s/he tries to get the treat, close your hand so that s/he can't reach the treat. After few tries your dog will stop trying to take the treat from your hand and that is when you reward him/her and give a treat (better yet, another one) together with release command, like “OK”. Repeat the same for longer intervals and when treats are exposed (until you reach the level of stacking all the treats on his/her nose like in Youtube videos – we didn't manage).