Here’s What To Teach Your Dog First

Suzana wrote to ask which dog training commands to teach her dog, first:

Does The Order You Teach Your Dog
Commands Make Training Faster?

“I have read most of the documents on your site and I am looking forward to more. My dog, a 14 month-old female Brittany Spaniel, Bessi, is not perfect but we manage somehow most of the problems, thanks to your advice and tips. But this time I wish kindly to ask you to advise me how to structure an obedience program. E.g. What things to teach to teach first, what are in the second phase or in the proofing phase. Some things are just tricks and some serious obedience commands. I know that there are ‘formal’ training exercises’ as well as exercises incorporated into daily life (like the “down-stay”). But I am confused when I wish to prepare self and equipment etc. for e.g. one hour obedience training, how to structure it. What goes first, what doesn’t fit with each other… etc I hope you understand my English and sense of my question since I am not a native English speaker. At the end I wish to thank you for your site and all efforts you invest to help us all in that the most beautiful experience of having a dog.”

Yes, Teaching Your Dog Commands In This Order
Will Make Learning Easier
And Faster For Your Dog

I replied:

Look in the back of my “Secrets” book, on page 320-321:

I’ve found the following to be the best order to train behaviors. Remember, there are three phases of training:

1. Teaching your dog to understand the command.
2. Re-teaching your dog the same command in a variety of different places. (This usually takes four or five different type of locations before your dog will start to extrapolate.
3. Proofing your dog around as many different types of distractions you can find.

Most importantly: Training never ends. Reinforcement is forever.

Lesson Plan

First lesson: Teach your dog to walk on a loose leash. Use it whenever you walk your dog on leash.

Second lesson: Boundary and Perimeter training. This teaches your dog what “No!” means, and teaches him what is a motivational correction. It also helps the handler learn better timing and ability to read her dog.

Third lesson: Sit and down-stay. Use these exercises all the time! You should be incorporating these around your everyday lifestyle. Make your dog hold a down-stay while you eat dinner, and a sit-stay while you get the mail. Put him on a pillow and make him stay down, while you watch television. Make her sit while you talk on the phone.

Fourth lesson: A natural transition to the “heel” command. Walking on a loose leash, but insisting that you dog walk on the left-hand side. Starting from the sit, saying the “heel” command as you start walking forward.

Fifth and sixth lesson: Long line and off-leash training.