1) Difficulty of the command
Always begin teaching your puppy or dog the easiest command(s) possible (ie:
"Look", "Sit", etc.). Very gradually introduce new and more difficult commands.
2) Degree of inherent genetic compatibility with a given command
Consider your dog's genetic makeup. If you have a Basset Hound and want to teach
him personal protection, you may have your work cut out for you. If instead,
you have a German Shepherd or Rottweiler from Schutzhund lines, you'll probably
have an easier time teaching him personal protection.
Using the above example, if you have a Labrador Retriever from field lines that
you are interested in teaching to fetch a ball, you're dog is likely to learn
how to retrieve relatively easily.
3) Duration of time
When initially teaching a new command, such as "Sit", if your dog sits for even
just a second or two, he should be praised, rewarded and released. Gradually,
the duration of time your dog should be taught to remain in position should be
[Note: Make sure your dog is physically comfortable throughout any training
exercises. Always release your dog from a command/session before s/he becomes
stressed. Short and sweet sessions are often best. Always end sessions on a
4) Distraction level
Start training each new command in an area free of distractions, such as your
home or yard. Once your dog is responding reliably, gradually increase the
Add distractions such as:
A) Bouncing a ball
B) Throwing a ball/toy
C) Squeak a toy
D) Doing "Jumping Jacks"
E) Singing a song
F) Running around your dog
G) Playing "Ring-Around-The-Rosie" around your dog
H) Play "Patty Cakes" with a friend in front of your dog
I) Have dogs heel around your dog
J) Throw treats around your dog
[NOTE: Never use a distraction that frightens your dog!]
5) Distance between you and your dog
Begin teaching a command with you dog right next to or in front of you.
Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog to 30 feet.
6) Distance between your dog and an object of attraction
If your dog is 3 feet from you and 37 feet from a squirrel, flock of pigeons, or
an other dog, you have a greater likelihood of getting your dog to respond to a
command than if your dog is 37 feet from you and 3 feet from a squirrel, flock
of pigeons, or an other dog! Once your dog is reliable in the face of distant
distractions, gradually, decrease the distance between your dog and any
"objects of attraction".
7) Different locations
Just because your puppy will respond to the word "Sit" in your living room, it
doesn't mean he understands that command in the context of the local dog run.
Don't expect your dog to automatically generalize the meaning of a given
command in every environment or context. Once your dog fully understands a
command at home, it is important to re-teach the command in many different
locations. Make sure to practice commands in both rural and urban locations.
8A) Different surfaces
Practice commands on a variety of surfaces including:
8B) Different object surfaces
A) On a chair
B) On a table
C) On a low wall
D) On a log
E) On a surf board in the ocean
F) On the back of a horse
9) Differing order of commands given
A "pattern trained" dog will always expect one specific command to follow
another specific command. This can work for or against you depending on the
circumstances. Usually it is advisable not to pattern train, as your dog will
have greater difficulty learning how to respond to a given command that is out
10) Different contexts
Many dogs have difficulty responding to commands that are given out of
context to normal training situations. Many dogs simply have not yet fully
generalized a given command. Trying giving known commands:
A) As you're walking down the street with your dog.
B) When you're in your local pet supply store.
C) While you're on line at the bank
D) When you're both within five to ten feet of your local dog run entrance,
while dogs come and go.
E) While inside the dog run with your dog, both with and without a leash.
F) When riding in a moving elevator (assuming your dog is already
acclimated to riding in moving elevators).
11) Different times of the day and evening
Practice commands at different times of the day and evening.
12) Different body positions while issuing command
Does your dog really fully understand a given command? Try giving the
command when you're in a different position than usual. For instance, if you
are sure your dog understands the command "Stand", try issuing the "Stand"
command (from a sit or down):
A) While you're laying down on the floor, stomach side down.
B) While you're on the sixth rung of a ladder.
C) While you're one flight above or below your dog, each of you
located at the opposite ends of a staircase.
13) Different levels of volumes and different tones of voice
Try issuing commands to your dog in several different volumes (whisper, quiet,
moderate and loud) and different tones of voice (squeaky, in a low voice,
grumbly, singing, etc.).
14) Disappearing after issuing command
Give a command your dog knows well, then go out of sight for 3 minutes. Does
your dog remain in position until you return and release him or her?
15) Disappearing before issuing command
First, try standing behind your dog, facing away from him, when giving a
command. Use a mirror when possible to watch your dog. Then Give your dog a
"Sit-Stay" command, then go out of site for 1 minute (ie: into the next room
where your dog can't see you). Then, while still out of your dog's sight (but
within hearing distance), issue a command for your dog to "Down".