How Do You Give Your Commands?

Training for the ‘down,’ and how do you give your commands?

Hi there!

I hope you’re having a good week.

This week, my youngest puppy is continuing her training on the ‘down’ command. She’s gotten pretty good at it with the hand signal and she will do it ok without the hand signal. I am starting to add a little distance to the command now. I want her to lie down when I ask for it, wherever she is, instead of coming up to me and then lying down. This is taking a bit of time and it will take some practice.

Working with the ‘down’ reminds me of a puppy we had years ago, who was a bit resistant to the ‘down’ command. He knew the command and what was wanted from him, but he just didn’t like to lay down on command.
When we would ask him to lay down he would just look at us…and maybe sit down, but he would never lay down on that first ‘down’ command.

So it would go;

“Down”.

“Buddy, DOWN”.

“Buddy, DOWN!”.

“DOWN BUDDY!…DOWN!”

“DOWN!”.

“DOWN!”…until finally he would lay down…seemingly with a big grin on his face.

Well, that was years ago…like I said, and neither I nor the rest of my family
knew a whole lot about dog behavior and training at the time. If I remember correctly, we had to repeat most commands over and over for that pup.

Thinking back now, I figure it wasn’t the pup so much as the way we gave the commands and the way we related to and with the puppy. There is something to be said about how we give our commands to our canine companions.

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This week’s tip on raising your puppy is all about ‘how’ we give commands
and ‘how’ we relate to our puppy. When training or working with a young puppy,
we want to use a moderate, controlled voice, but it is imperative that we ‘say it like we mean it’.

(The only exception to using ‘the moderate voice’, is if you actually ‘catch’ the puppy in the act of doing something dangerous or unacceptable. At that time you can raise your voice so as to slightly ‘startle’ the puppy into stopping the act.)

When giving a basic command or when telling your puppy to do something in particular, you’ll want to use a tone of voice that ‘means what you say’. You’ve GOT to mean it! You can’t be wishy washy or weak sounding and still get the respect you need from your puppy as his pack leader. You also only want to say it once…then make him comply.

That is not to say that you have to sound harsh or rough or loud…you just have to mean business. You are giving a command to sit…you are telling him to sit…and you have to mean what you say!

Again, you are not ‘asking’ your puppy to sit. You are in charge. For example, you DON’T want to say something like:

“Spot, can you sit for me?”

“Spot, please sit”

“Can you sit, Spot?”

Can hear the difference between those and

“Spot, sit”?

Say it like you mean it! And, say it only once.

When a puppy is young and doesn’t know his basic commands, you will want to say it once and then make sure he does it. Use treats or whatever training method you have found that is a good fit for you and your puppy…but only say the command once, when you know he can/will comply.

Later on, when the pup knows the command, you may have to say it once and then wait just a bit for him to comply. That’s OK, but you don’t want to get into the habit of repeating a command over and over again, like we did for our pup years ago.

When you say it, mean it.

You will be pleasantly surprised when you keep this one little detail in mind as you relate to your new puppy during training and while living your everyday life together. When you use your authority, through your voice, while relating to your pup, you will gain his respect and he will be happy to comply with commands and demands. He will literally follow you wherever you go and do his best in whatever task you ‘ask’.

Take care,
Sue Lee