If you’ve been following my series about raising a Belgian Malinois puppy to be my next “demo dog”… then you’ll know she’s about 4 1/2 months old.
And four months of age is when I like to start with formal obedience training exercises. Everything until then is just done to build positive associations to command words, but without strict enforcement because of the puppy’s lack of maturity.
But once you see those adult teeth come in– usually at or around four months of age– HALLELUJAH! You’re finally ready to start teaching and using some of the dog training commands that will make your life a thousand times easier.
So, you’re probably wondering what those commands are?
Here are a list of the commands I’ve been using around the house to make life easier with the puppy. I’ll be making a video of these so you can see ’em in action, soon:
1. The Place Command: I have a small raised platform that the puppy can be on. She can choose to stand on the platform, or lie down on it… her choice. But she’s gotta stay on it. I use this when we’re eating dinner. Later I’ll probably just use the down-stay command and get rid of the platform altogether. I’m also using this for when I need to put her collar on, or to take it off: I’ll have her jump up on top of her crate, and she must stay up there until I get the collar on.
2. The Down-Stay Command: For shorter periods of time at this point, but with practice and maturity, I’ll start using it more and more. Example: I’ll put her in a down-stay while I’m changing into my walking shoes, before I take her out for a walk in the morning.
3. The Sit-Stay Command: I teach the sit-stay to mean that she not only has to sit, but she also has to keep looking up at me with 100% attention. When we go for a walk and she hears (or sees) another dog barking behind a fence, her natural tendency is to get anxious and excited. I use this as a distraction to proof her sit-stay and also her attention training, by placing her in a sit-stay, and if she moves her head to look at the dog barking behind the fence, I’ll correct her and bring her attention back to me. This ultimately teaches the dog that when other dogs bark, it’s a cue to look at me.
4. Wait: I use the wait command to teach the puppy that she has to wait at the door when it’s open and to let me walk out, first.
5. Drop it. This is a really nice one, as this puppy is very oral and likes to pick up pretty much everything on the ground. At this age, she’s finally old enough to learn what it means and is dropping things on command. For example: She liked to carry the leash in her mouth, when we’d go for a walk. Well, if that becomes a hassle, it’s very easy to tell her, “Drop it!’ and she’ll drop it, and leave it alone.
There are a number of informal commands I use too. Commands such as: “Go away,” “Go get your ball,” “Go get your bone,” and “Leave it” are pretty self explanatory and the puppy has picked them up, just by showing her once or twice.
If you’d like to teach your own puppy or older dog (Yes, even older dogs can be trained!) these commands and know that your dog will listen, even around distractions such as: Other dogs, cats, tennis balls and food… then download my book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” and start learning, today!