How to Teach a Puppy to Stay

When she is sitting hold you hand up palm open and facing towards her.  Say ‘stay’ firmly.  Take a step backwards.  If she gets up to follow you move back and put her in the sit position again (exactly where she was originally).  Move back a step, then forwards and reward her.  Take it slowly, but repeat and gradually increase the distance you are moving away from her. 

Once you have taught the ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ commands incorporate them into your daily life whenever the opportunity arises. 

How to Teach a Puppy the ‘Down’.

When you’re puppy is consistent with the sit command, place her in a sit and hold another treat in front of her and lower your hand to the floor.  The puppy’s backside will probably come up, and her head will go down for the treat.  Close your hand around the treat and firmly push her backside back down to the floor.  This may be slightly harder than getting the sit in the first place, but eventually she will cotton on.

For the first few tries ask for the down from the sit, and then when she understands what’s required just ask for the down.  Bess has a rather energetic way of performing this.  She rear up on her back legs and throw herself flat on her tummy - entertaining to watch, but at least she does it!

Once the commands been picked up, alternate requests for the down with the sit.

Once she is in the down position you can now introduce the stay in the down position.

Picking up Commands

I was bringing my pup in from the garden when I decided to teach her to ‘sit’.  What I didn’t realise at the time was although she learned what to do and would thereafter ‘sit’ on command wherever she was, she associated it with coming in from the garden and getting a treat.  Ever since she has come in, sat by the back door and waited expectantly.  The side effect is that it improved her coming to her name when called, and she no longer lingered in the garden, so I decided to continue. 

A puppy is always learning by association.  They are intelligent animals, and you have to consider that what you are actually teaching them, may not be exactly what you intended. 

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Puppy Training - First Steps

Irish Setter Puppy Sit/Stay
Irish Setter Puppy Down/Stay

Puppies can have ‘mad moments’ - when all common sense seems to fly out of the window.  By teaching a few simple commands which they know they will get rewarded for can bring at least a temporary halt to the mad behaviour.  Commands useful for this are the ‘sit’,  the ‘down’ and the ‘stay’.

To begin with reward with treats - eventually you’ll be able to progress to the reward being a stroke or a pat, or simple a ‘good girl’ comment.  As you will be giving a lot of rewards remember that treats will add into her daily food intake so remember to give good quality or low calorie treats.  I’ve found some treats which Bess loves but each is less than 1 calorie. 
At 14 weeks:

Top Right:   a 'sit/stay'
Bottom Right:   a 'down stay'

How to Teach a Puppy to Sit

The ‘sit’ command is great for starting to teach good manners.  Once your puppy can sit on command you can ask for this to prevent her jumping up - before opening a door, before giving her food, and when meeting strangers. 

Stand in front of your puppy, take a treat in your hand and say ‘Sit’.  Move your hand slowly above and over her head whilst pushing down on her rump at the same time.   Her head will move back and up so her eyes follow the treat.  As your other hand is preventing her moving back she’ll naturally place her backside on the floor.  Now give her the treat.  Do this a few times and she should soon sit on command. 
Puppy’s Attention Span

She will have a very short attention span, so only train for very short periods but several times a day.  Lots of mini sessions of 3 to 7 minutes a day will be more effective than a couple of longer sessions when she will get bored. 
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As soon as you get your puppy home and begin house training you will have started on your journey to train your puppy.  The early weeks and months are the best time to reinforce the behaviour that you want as at this stage her mind is like a sponge, ready to soak up everything that you put into it.  Some dogs are very quick learners - what you need to remember is that they learn behaviours they shouldn’t just as quickly as those they should!

There are two types of training - the first is about is all about encouraging and rewarding the behaviours you want, and discouraging/not rewarding behaviours you do not want.  Consistency is the key - puppies do not understand they can sit on the sofa when you want them to, but not at other times.  This sort of training will go on day in and day out and whoever the puppy is with.  Make sure that you, and all the family or anyone who’ll come into contact with your puppy apply the house rules in exactly the same way.

What is Puppy Training?
‘No’ is probably the word a pup hears most - but they don’t necessarily understand what it means.   The words ‘off’ and ‘down’ can be interchangeable by humans, but we know what they mean.  For a dog this is confusing.  If you want to be able to train your dog to ‘lie down’ on command; using ‘down’ to mean ‘don’t jump up’ or ‘get off the furniture’ or even ‘downstairs’ then you will have difficulty making the dog understands he is to lie flat on his belly.  So choosing your key words and making sure all the family know what they are and using them. 

By the time my pup was 11 weeks she understood the ‘sit - stay’ command, albeit I was only walking three or four steps away, and only leaving it a few seconds before calling her.  Her face was a picture though - she’d learned what I wanted her to do, but looked like she really couldn’t fathom out why!  Oh well, human beings are silly things!
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The second type is teaching your dog to do things on command and is the start of Obedience Training.  This training teaches a dog to obey you, and can greatly help in turning an unruly pup into a lovely dog who’s manners everyone will envy.