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Training your puppy can be an intimidating task for many first-time dog owners. I know when I picked up the boisterous little, 10-week-old, Anzac, I was terrified that I would fail at teaching him the basic commands needed for a safe and happy dog.

Today I want to chat with you about the top 3 commands I found most useful when training my dog. 

Command 1: Sit and Stay

While there are two separate commands here, sit and stay are critical commands, required to help keep your dog safe and alert at all times. The first task is to find a reward that your dog responds to. For my dog Anzac, this has always been food. It’s important to know that every dog is different. With many dogs not motivated by food, it’s important to find what works well for your dog using positive reinforcement. If your dog responds well to food treats, ensure this is included in your dog’s daily calorie count so they don’t put on any extra unwanted weight.

Next, you want to start helping them understand how to complete the sit action, followed by associating that action with a word. For many, the sit action can be achieved by raising your reward above their nose or eye line, encouraging the head back, and for them to sit instinctively, followed by a reward. Once they achieve this action, you can begin to include a command word, for example, sit, repeating the word sit as they complete the action, followed by a reward and the word yes or good boy/girl.

At these early stages, it is always best to say the command word once they complete the action, to ensure the word becomes associated with the action instead of just a word.

Once your dog has a strong understanding of the sit command you can begin testing their abilities with stay. This is best achieved by first putting them in the sit position and taking one step back and using the word stay. Put your hand out in the stop position to help give a visual to the command. Wait a few seconds and then reward them, with an affirming yes or good boy/girl.

As they grow to understand this command, you can continue to push it further and further, by taking more steps back and asking them to stay longer.

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Command 2: Come

Now that your puppy has mastered the sit and stay command, it’s time to push their understanding, with the come command. A solid reaction to this command is critical for keeping your dog safe and others around you comfortable. For example, when you are at an off-lead dog park, it’s important to have confidence in your dog’s ability to recall in the case of a passing car, close proximity to the road, unfriendly dogs or even other people who may not be comfortable around dogs.

To begin teaching this command, you first want to ask your dog to sit and stay, as outlined earlier. Following that, place the reward under your dog’s nose and take two or three steps backwards, enticing your dog towards you, as you say the word come, you can then reward your dog and give an affirming yes or good boy/girl. Once your dog begins to understand the command, you can begin to take a few steps back before asking your dog to come, now that they have an understanding of what that command means.

The further you progress with this, the further you can push them, increasing the distance between you and your dog, and finally implementing the command while outside surrounded by distractions.

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Command 3: Heel Around

The final command I want to cover today is heal around. Heel around is a wonderful command when you are letting your dog run in off lead areas, and you want to bring them in to be put back on lead.

This command can first be implemented by asking your dog to sit in front of you.

With a reward in your right hand, you then want to place the reward near your dog’s nose and lead them around your right-hand side, to your left-hand side and command then to sit, ending right up against your left leg.

Now give them their reward, followed by a yes or good boy/girl.

Once your dog begins to understand heel around you can combine this command with come, allowing you to recall your dog and have them heel around, ready to be put back on lead.

The key thing to remember with any of these commands, is consistency! Consistency is the most important step when training any dog and will help speed up your results significantly. 

I hope you have found some value in this month’s feature article and please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, by commenting below or visiting the @eukanuba Instagram or Facebook page.

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Guest Contributor Zoe Strapp Accompanied by my photography assistant, Anzac (my brown and white Border collie), I’m a professional freelance photographer, specialising in lifestyle, surf, travel, and fashion photography. With a Bachelor of Environmental Science & Conservation and a postgraduate in Marketing and Communication, I capture our world’s most beautiful, unforgettable, and inspiring people, places, and experiences.